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A couple of interesting events took place in Tokyo last Friday. The American Chamber of Commerce hosted their Fourth Annual E-Business Summit, while Credit Suisse First Boston’s lead telecoms analyst Mark Berman conducted a 3G/Wireless Internet Conference. Some interesting points came out of both. Afterwards, Kobe University’s Jeff Funk commented that the predicted fall in 3G packet prices is “interesting,” while Matsumoto’s additional arguments — that the US is a car society and thus Japan’s experience isn’t relevant — was not valid since “SMS is doing well in Europe and DoCoMo claim that i-mode revenues per person are independent of the region in Japan.”
The CSFB conference generated some interesting news. Afterwards, CSFB’s Berman offered this commentary:
It appears that, as we move into the third fall of Japan’s mobile Internet era, packet cost, subscriber usage habits, roaming, WLAN, telematics, and PDAs are all lively topics — and, except for WLAN, these were all significant factors at the start of i-mode in February 1999.
Speaking at the ACCJ event, Ted Matsumoto, president of Qualcomm Japan, provided an eloquent (and funny) defense of CDMA vis ・via W-CDMA. He painted a picture of W-CDMA as an overly complex, power-hungry, highly engineered solution to 3G which is “costly, requires new infrastructure, and is unnecessarily complicated.” Matsumoto parodied W-CDMA-centric telcos, concluding such firms must believe they have “good engineers, so [they] can make W-CDMA more complicated.” The audience’s laughter was predictable.
Of course, as one of the prime movers behind the initial adoption of CDMA by a Japanese carrier, Matsumoto’s comments were mostly predictable (if nonetheless entertaining). Interestingly, he also had a slide showing that 3G packet fees will drop considerably. According to Matsumoto (who got his data from a Qualcomm study), it will cost GSM/GPRS providers $US0.415 to transmit a megabyte of data, while W-CDMA and CDMA will both come in much lower, at $US0.069 and $US0.059 per megabyte, respectively. Finally, CDMA 1X EV-DO will be champion, with a megabyte costing the provider just $US0.022.
Afterwards, Kobe University’s Jeff Funk commented that the predicted fall in 3G packet prices is “interesting,” while Matsumoto’s additional arguments — that the US is a car society and thus Japan’s experience isn’t relevant — was not valid since “SMS is doing well in Europe and DoCoMo claim that i-mode revenues per person are independent of the region in Japan.”
In other words, according to DoCoMo, i-mode is doing well throughout Japan (even in places where there are no commuters) much the same as SMS is doing well throughout Europe, and therefore mobile data usage doesn’t need a train commuter society — or any other particular society — to become successful.
We tend to side with Funk, and note further that as the cost for wired-PC Net access from home in Japan has fallen to some of the G8′s lowest levels, i-mode and mobile Net usage has not fallen off (as we might conclude if cost of access were the only factor) and has on the contrary grown considerably.
Mobile Net usage appears to be independent of cost of access via wireline PC and independent of the commuter habits of users. Given a fun, low-cost, entertaining way to use the Net via pocket rocket, people will find their own microniches of time in which to do so.
– Daniel Scuka
Some sage advise when entering new turf; Stop, Look and Listen.. it’s also good to secure a local guide. Japan is the cradle of mobile civilization – we been been dedicated to this space since 2001 – trust our archives here offer some useful material.
Domestic activities continue to set the pace, and sharp players are looking at global markets. We have hard-earned industry expertise and trusted network of contacts with access to advanced intell. and potential deal flow. Need a lift.. Ok, buckle-up!