Making Money: P2P in Japan's Wireless Space
Each client interacting with the sign can choose to allow an icon representing the owner to be displayed on the screen; the icon can display a message like “looking for partner to attend jazz concert at 7:00PM.” If you wish to accept the offer, simply drag your icon down to “mate” with the other. The clients will then be notified how to contact each other and a date can be made on the spot. Unlike the Americans, the Japanese are building highly personal, device-to-device, and socially interactive communication capability into their system from the ground up.
Comments from Wireless Watch Japan Editor-in-Chief Daniel Scuka:
Looks like the first revenue on any sort of P2P, or peer-to-peer, wireless communications system will be made in two areas: fixed-wireless institutional applications and advertising-based services.
In today’s program, we bundle together a look at two very different companies, one American, and one Japanese.
San Francisco, California-based Primal Cause was in Tokyo to suss out the market and see whether their P2P content management software could be flogged in the Japanese market – as well as to learn about this country’s advanced mobile Internet services. Primal Cause’s software is a sort of content management system for wireless client devices (like PDAs) that are used in, for example, museums to allow access to data at individual displays. The data (images, text, audio, whatever…) can be beamed from the display to the visitor’s PDA via Bluetooth, WLAN (in ad hoc mode), or IR, and can be updated by the curators in real-time via a control panel interface.
There’s already a system highly similar to this in use at Odaiba’s Dinosaur FACTory; the technology is sponsored by Panasonic, and visitors receive the PDA at the door (and have to return it upon exit – why not sell ’em for 20% off list to customers at the end of their visit??). You can see a report on the Dinosaur FACTory in February’s Wired magazine – link below.
Tokyo-based Uchida Corp. is a traditional office outfitter-turned-software developer and their “Motto P2P” project is aimed at developing public sign boards that serve as electronic information points; people can receive data (local information, restaurants, entertainment, etc.) simple by pointing a compatible PDA at the sign. While the provision of the information is free, Uchida hopes that advertisers will pay to have coupons and other marketing info beamed to clients that opt to accept it.
Interestingly, each client interacting with the sign can choose to allow an icon representing the owner to be displayed on the screen (which is thus visible to all); the icon can display a message like “looking for partner to attend jazz concert at 7:00PM.” If you wish to accept the offer, so to speak, simply drag your icon down to “mate” with the other. The clients will then be notified how to contact each other and a date can be made on the spot.
I wonder how much electronic icon “mating” will lead to the real-life version… 😉
It’s also interesting to note the contrast in approach to P2P between these two companies. The Americans are a group of serious, buttoned-down, ex-consultants who are highly focused on the institutional market and making sales to organizations. They also appear to have the savvy and experience to make Primal Cause (a one-year old, credit-card-financed start-up) a success.
The Japanese, meanwhile, are focused on the individual consumer user who simply happens to be walking down the street (or who may be congregating at a high-pedestrian-traffic area like a mall or chain shop). Unlike the Americans, the Japanese are building highly personal, device-to-device, and socially interactive communication capability into their system from the ground up.
This reflects, I think, the approach of wireless carriers in the US and Japanese mobile Internet markets overall. The Americans (and, for that matter, Europeans) are focused on business apps and high-margin usage, while the Japanese focus on individual users and consumer mass-market applications.
Maybe P2P here can succeed on this basis in the same way that i-mode itself has – only this time, there won’t be a massive NTT DoCoMo to extract exorbitant fees from licensed spectrum usage.