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After some time to reflect on this article by Financial Times we decided clearly somebody needs to step forward to shed some light on what should be obvious fact to most players in the game. The plan by DoCoMo to feature Android apps originally came to light (see last paragraph Here) at Mobile World Congress Asia in Nov. 2009. The company was getting ready to roll Android devices and knew that a separate area with dedicated JAPANESE LANGUAGE featured contents would be required.. simple as that. The so-called “DoCoMo Market” was announced in English back in January along with their upcoming Xperia handset, stating then a separate dedicated area for Android Apps would be offered.
We will address the FT post ++ inline ++ below.
DoCoMo platform to mimic Appleâ€™s
NTT DoCoMo is to launch an Apple-style application platform for its mass market â€œi-modeâ€ mobile handsets, a move seen as a reaction by Japanâ€™s biggest mobile operator to the success of the iPhone.
++ DoCoMo created the mobile App Store model back in 1999, it was Apple that did a very good job to “mimic” the platform. The ‘success of iPhone’ has nothing to do with this move, as mentioned above; DoCoMo is shipping Androids Handsets and therefore will need to have a section featuring Android Apps… In Japanese(.)
Ryuji Yamada, DoCoMo chief executive, said the group was planning to add the platform to its closed i-mode data service.
++ Did Yamada-san really say i-mode is a “closed data service”..?!? We would strongly suggest that it is, and always has been, a very well managed and tightly integrated platform. Any at rate, it’s Far More Open than Apples App Store..!?!
Strict quality control has helped ensure i-modeâ€™s success in turning Japanese subscribers into some of the heaviest users of mobile data services. The plan marks a shift from DoCoMoâ€™s practice of strictly controlling what applications and services are offered to its 50m-plus i-mode users.
++ Strict quality control, as with all portal plays who followed the original DoCoMo lead, iPhone included, is only part of the recipe. Flat-rate data plans and fair revenue share to content providers are also rather important. Anyway, we fail to see how the move ‘marks a shift’ when in fact it continues to control the deck in order to provide best possible experience for all parties with vested interest. [Note: i-mode subs at 49M as of June 31st]
The move is the latest response by rivals to Appleâ€™s App Store. Handset makers Nokia, Research in Motion and Samsung have launched application platforms in the past two years. â€œWe feel the best advantage of the smartphone is its open application platform, so we want to incorporate that open application environment to the [mass market] i-mode handsets as well,â€ Mr Yamada told the Financial Times.
++ There it is: incorporate other app platforms into i-mode. They should know that there has been a full range of ‘apps’ on i-mode since the very beginning right? Games, Music and wide range of business-focused productivity offerings, running Java and cHTML. We honestly fail to see how the title of this article was ever approved?
Apple has succeeded where other US and European handset makers have failed by gaining 4 per cent of the Japanese mobile market, which is led by domestic groups, in two years.
++We’d loved to see where they get a 4% number because, unlike the US, Apple and SoftBank never reveal actual device sales. Aside from splitting hairs, while most here peg it at maybe 3%, Nokia was better off when they exited the Japan market and Mitsubishi shuttered their handset business with about the same market share. So basically what we are saying is that it’s Just Not the significant shaker – in Japan – that fan boys are puffing about.
The release of the iPad and iPhone 4 helped rival Softbank, Appleâ€™s sole Japanese mobile operator partner, to sign up more new subscribers than DoCoMo in the three months to June.
++ Please.. SoftBank Mobile subscriber gains are far more about PRICE PLANS than the iPhone, the most simple proof of that is easily found in their ARPU (average revenue per user), which runs about 30% lower than DoCoMo. Even in Japan some people still shop with their wallet.
DoCoMoâ€™s share has declined in recent years, and is about 50 per cent.
++ Declined.. by how much.. 5%.. even less maybe..?!? They must be doing something right to maintain 1/2 the market share for a decade.. ya think..?!?
Charles Golvin, mobile analyst at Forrester, a consultancy, said DoCoMo was following a trend towards mobile applications, which provide a better user experience than browser-based services such as i-mode. â€œThe threat is that DoCoMo customers will value that [App Store] experience so highly they churn and go to Softbank.â€
++ This Charles Golvin, based in LA and long-time CTO..?!? With all due respect, and we do mean that seriously, again, DoCoMo has featured “apps” on i-mode since 1999. Perhaps the browser-based experience Here, with real honest-to-goodness 3G plus speeds and full Flash capability, is something international observers and reporters need to take into consideration?
DoCoMo is banking on smartphones running Googleâ€™s Android operating system to compete directly with the iPhone.
++ Ahh.. Ya.. so, how is that different from any, of the many, other operators in the world who did not go with iPhone and is rolling ‘droid devices instead..?!?
Mr Yamada said he was aware of the need to â€œbrush upâ€ the services offered to the operatorâ€™s more numerous i-mode handset subscribers.
++ As always, Kaizen – continuous improvement – is religion in Japan, no news there.
DoCoMo will now allow third-party providers to independently develop handset applications and the company will help to sell them through a â€œDoCoMo marketâ€.
++ DoCoMo – indeed all Jpn operators – has Always allowed 3rd party apps. The English site shows some 95,000 i-mode websites with untold thousands of individual and corporate offerings.
DoCoMo currently charges a commission on the revenues generated by content providers from i-mode services of 9 per cent, but the commission for applications offered through its new market would be â€œsomewhat higherâ€, Mr Yamada said.
++ The famous 90/10 rev. share to content providers, interesting there was no mention about how much better that is for the 3rd parties than Apple or Android.. ’nuff said? This hit-job is a shockingly poor example of journalism, in it’s complete lack of understanding, or worse, total disregard for the clear and public facts. We would suggest this article by John Turner from Telecom Asia is far more balanced and to the point, sadly it seems the FT standards have slipped drastically in comparison.
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 have 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!