EXTRACT: Britain’s first next-generation mobile phone network, 3, launches next month. So it seems like a good time to look at the lessons from the Japanese market, where 3G has been available for 18 months, and ask when we’ll really be enjoying the benefits of 3G in the UK. CONTINUE
COMMENTARY: Among others, this story cites the following as the lessons to be learned from Japan’s 3G experience:
- KDDI has been more successful in getting users to pay than DoCoMo. KDDI 3G ARPU was 9,240 yen vs. 7,750 yen for DoCoMo. First movers don’t always win. If so, DoCoMo would be in the lead; they’re not.
- KDDI launched 3G using a technology that worked with existing 2G infrastructure. So it provided (almost) nationwide coverage from Day One. (DoCoMo eschewed backwards compatibility in favour of new W-CDMA technology that had very limited coverage at launch.)
- DoCoMo’s original marketing proposition was built on speed. Speed (i.e. bandwidth) is “an elusive benefit to all but geeky early adopters.” So, in practice, while DoCoMo’s network was technically available first, KDDI’s 3G service was “beneficially available first” and provided all the must-haves consumers wanted, including as 100% coverage.
These are all excellent points. Remember, however, that only DoCoMo has the super-deep pockets to wait out the doldrums until its new 3G technology can be expanded nationwide and new-tech handsets come down in price. The 3G race in japan is by no means over yet.