Some sage advise when entering new turf; Stop, Look and Listen.. it’s also good to find a local guide to help smooth your path. Japan is the cradle of mobile civilization and WWJ has covered this story for over a decade – trust our archives here offer some useful material.
Domestic activities continue to set the pace, and increasingly sharp players are looking at global markets. We have hard-earned industry knowledge and built a trusted network of contacts with access to advanced intell. and potential deal flow. Need a lift.. Ok, buckle-up!
Building a Community Network in Tokyo
Right about this time ten years ago (Ya, Ten Years!) email was flying, as it does, related to plans for a large executive tour group set to visit Tokyo. Considering the agenda of meetings expected it was obvious there was No Way we would see everyone. So an evening welcome mixer to ‘gather the tribes’ was a logical solution and then out of the blue a note from Finland suggesting we host a so-called MobileMonday event. The rest, so they *say, is history.
At that time MoMo had been running for a few years, only in Helsinki, but the team was eager to take that friendly mobile mixer model global. Tokyo became the first ‘chapter’ location, our debut event was held Sept. 13th 2004, with San Francisco and Singapore following a few months later. By our 1st birthday there were a dozen cities on the map with now +150 groups, from Adelaide to Zurich, joining the family to-date. It has been a Great Adventure.
Ok, with that background out of the way, what are some key lessons? Simply put, I’ve learned plenty, and not nearly enough. We’ve built an amazing network, both here and abroad, from scratch based on a simple mission of ‘Bringing the Community Together’ for the greater good of all. While that concept is widely held and often-pursued by various groups since, there was not much in the way of other existing models for us to observe in those early days.
While I could crush 1,000 words for you to skim, then may as well do 20,000 and publish an e-book (tempting), here’s my point: essentially, if there is a single no lip-service marketing noise rule that is mission critical, it’s All About The People. From speakers and sponsors to venues and volunteers, and most importantly = attendees, making everyone happy is like magic. It takes plenty of energy, luck and patience, to deliver smiles across every channel.
All said and done: I would not trade my experience earned, for anything. So, since now we’re grown-up and ‘mature’ enough to consider carefully, it’s time to focus on the best way forward for all stake-holders. As our industry has morphed over the years, and with scale comes fragmentation, clearly we could better serve verticals within the community. That challenge needs people, platforms and programs in place for the next cycle. Interesting times ahead.
Regardless of how my future unfolds, the core DNA must continue to be open and neutral, without fear or favour. Meanwhile, we’ve announced MoMo Tokyo xTEN celebration plans for September and will hold a Towards 2020 event in late October to secure supporters for our continued evolution. My most sincere Thanks To Everyone who has participated over these years, as they also *say: “serendipity is difficult to measure”.. indeed, it’s priceless.
Filed Under: Editors Note
10th Anniversary of Mobile NFC in Japan
On June 16th 2004 DoCoMo held a press conference at the Teikoku Hotel to introduce the world first commercial launch of NFC enabled mobile phones. While the 10th anniversary is coming up next week, we have not seen anything about it (yet), suppose that’s why you love us.. as we’ve always been ‘just slightly’ ahead of the curve.
I’m a bit slammed for time, our client projects work is always my top priority, but I really do want to get a few thoughts out on this thread. We had covered the initial DCM trial debut, in December 2003, however July 2004 was an official four model roll-out (only 1 of them 3G!) to the public at large here. The domestic market was already well-established with card-type Tap & Go for payments, so predictable addition to handsets with screen display and internet connection had finally arrived, that iconic event marked a natural evolution of mobile in Japan. FeliCa Networks was incorporated in January of 2004 with current shareholding structure at 57% Sony, 38% DoCoMo and 5% by East Japan Railway with records stating 236 Million total aggregate “Mobile” FeliCa chips shipped to-date. The P506iC went on sale July 10th, 2004.
For starters perhaps a good idea to clear-up some standard misconceptions; such as usual “FeliCa is not really NFC” and that’s just another “weird Japan” thing. Looking at the global industry association NFC Forum, and Yes, Tagawa-san is still Chairman, their defined spec. is noted quite clearly. Regardless of the intricate Type A/B etc. standards, with ISO awarded or otherwise, the Sony solution is certainly NFC(.) I might also add it’s comparatively superior in both speed and security while indeed that result comes with a slight premium attached. As for the ‘cultural’ aspect, and we’ve said it countless times here over the years: it’s really the Business Model that’s unique.. not the end users. There are So Many examples of ‘people are people’ (from London to New York to Tokyo), if you provide them a valuable offering they will generally respond in the same way. Obviously there are issues in other markets surrounding regulations with respect to telecoms and banking or sales channel distribution of handsets vs. Japanese operators build to order approach. Simply put: it’s proven, at scale, for a decade.
A few more generic points we (still) see via comments from overseas:
What if I lose my phone?
- At least you can remotely lock it, what happens if you lose your wallet.. @_@
What if my battery dies?
- Transactions are powered by point of sale reader, no battery in NFC card-style.
How do I access money?
- In Japan there are four ways: Direct connect to bank account or credit card (requires pin), incremental amount top-ups from either of aforementioned accounts, carrier pre-approved limit with transactions settled via your monthly bill or add cash credit value at any location with point of sale reader that can debit (7-11 etc).
So, where are we after 10 years? A typical challenge to get good numbers, best effort figures indicate +90 Million active NFC handsets in Japan with 1.8 Million point of sale locations. One well-placed source has indicated weekly active users are hovering just above the 30% ratio, of course it would be great to know those daily and monthly numbers too. Further ‘nice to have’ dark data would be: what is the annual gross, net and the average spend of all mobile NFC clients in Japan – good luck with that, a safe bet it’s worth alot of cupcakes!
Now, 3 quick points going forward. Let’s get the gorilla in the room out of the way first: Apple. Will they pull the trigger.. of course, it’s not If but When and as usual most important – How? Lots of chatter about BLE, but many might consider that pre-Y2K tech developed by Nokia to be somewhat less than ideal for secure privacy and financial transactions. Interesting side note related, Aplix has just announced an interim solution. On the global side of getting NFC firmly established, as we’ve mentioned in the past: Boys Need Girls. While having critical mass device adoption is increasingly evident with low-cost per unit for the hardware, all those handsets need enabled POS locations at scale in order to actually engage. Finally, as we move towards a next-gen. connected world of sensors and wearables, this quick, unique and secure data exchange of 1′s and 0′s will ultimately become (cough *Camera-Phone* cough) a natural and universal part of your daily life.
Whew, 700 words and no lunch-break for me, Yoroshiku!
Filed Under: Editors Note
Mobile World Congress – The Beat Goes On
Yet another exciting visit to Barcelona for the annual ‘must-do’ Mobile World Congress event, with a record 85,000 folks in attendance this year, it was classic chaos as always with more than 1,800 exhibiting companies showcasing across 98,000 square metres of hall space and 3,800+ international media covering the action.. as per this Shatters Previous Records PR.
While you can watch the interviews at Mobile World Live** and skim the Show Daily reports, there really is nothing like being on the ground and in that mix. Of course there are tons of reviews online, and their official Event Highlights is a good starting point, a couple of quick post-show thoughts below from our perspective – likely somewhat off the usual radar.
**DoCoMo Keynote Presentation Here
Plenty of buzz headed into MWC this year with the FaceBook aquisition of WhatsApp, it will be interesting to see how their joint initiative with GSMA develops on connecting billions in developing markets. While the final price-tag seemed to have a extra zero, certain Rakuten and LINE folks were both smiling here, comment by Bill Gates in Rolling Stone was bang-on: “..Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be the next Facebook”. As luck would have it, we crashed their top-secret VIP shaker which was, as the kids say these days, Epic.
Despite a hectic daily meeting schedule, managed to spend a little time focused on what Japan brought to the party for 2014; the DoCoMo booth in Hall 1 had a decent range on display – from 5G to Hitoe Wearable – through to App Planet in Hall 8.1 where Jetro was hosting a handful of energetic startups together with the Sony FeliCa team again this year. Along the way we saw Panasonic with their latest HARDware and Kyocera had a few plastic mock-ups behind glass. Sadly the locals had no part in Connected City, which pulled pretty decent traffic, and they did not earn a single Award despite multiple examples which either pre-date or excel some of those featured offerings.
From the gut: a shame Jetro lost the front door position in App Planet from last year and smaller booth design was rather ‘closed’ to walk through traffic. Looking at their website, English and Japanese, zero mention of this important trade mission? Compared to Israel, albeit always a strong player at MWC, the difference is.. notable. That said, here’s the point generally not found in main-stream; the traditional focus with nano-attention to product, and the subtle approach on it’s delivery, is well-understood in Japan. However, the old-school players are rather more awkward when trying to play the loud splashy games found at such events. An easy example, based on above, would be: What ‘if’ Fujitsu made Really Big Noise about their haptic touch tablet with a cool demo that featured it’s ability to render Braille!
Imagine making the digital world easily available to the blind, not to mention all the media attention that little stunt would have brought? To be clear, yes, there has been chatter about this concept in the past, but apparently still no actual product on the street, as Yoda(san) famously said: Try Not – Do or Do Not. Simply.. ahead much work there is..
While the main Fira Gran Via venue had plenty candy, to us, the real story this year was actually back at the original Fira Monjuic location with WIP-Jam and Four Years From Now both Rocking daily programs! Suffice to say easily half of my 200+ business cards collected during the week came via these two gigs. Full props to all involved, Audi clearly leaned in with support for the main stage and the city of Barcelona, under Mobile World Capital, set the tone for this new additional activity to become an increasingly important part of MWC. I’m pretty bullish on the future build and combined potential – where the money meets the talent – going forward and thrilled to become increasingly involved. Up next: Mobile Asia Expo in June!
Thanks to @GSMA, another impressive effort, we all lived happily ever-after.. The End.
Filed Under: Editors Note