Importing Wireless Products from Abroad
Do you have BREW contents that you want to put into 10 million cellphone browsers? We know somebody who wants to hear from you. Spun out of trading powerhouse Nissho Iwai and backed by camera giant Olympus, ITX E-Globaledge Corp. is a small company hungry to meet U.S., Korean and European ventures to introduce your BREW content, and your cutting-edge soft- and hardware, to a company with a huge appetite: KDDI. More than just a go-between to help customize ideas for the Japanese market, ITX also creates its own content. More interestingly, it recently put $4 million into a Seattle-based venture blending XML.
There was a certain sense of deja-vu about this program. Remember when we talked to HelloNet CEO Hwan-Joon Lee at the Tokyo Game Show. At Mobidec, where we met ITX, KDDI were practically pleading developers to move into the BREW camp to boost KDDI’s content platform as it geared up for its 1X EVDO WIN launch against DoCoMo.
At the Tokyo Game show we met reluctance to make the move to BREW by Japanese companies used to milking the Java teat. This, members will recall, made Lee smile, because, basically, the less Japanese developers are bothered, the bigger the BREW pay packet for HelloNet.
And here we are again. ITX is furiously developing applications for BREW and actively hunting out partners and is even willing to throw millions to ventures with good ideas to load up the KDDI platform. Takehiko Wakimoto, director and general manager of ITX Mobile and Wireless Solutions Department, talks about the prospects for non-Japanese companies who want a slice of KDDI’s 3G action.
Specifically, so keen is KDDI to build content that Wakimoto thinks its possible to get in the carrier’s door without their help. But he also seems like a smart enough guy in a small enough, well-connected company to sooth the process from pitch… to banking the loot.
Of course KDDI, as a Qualcomm partner, is under the gun to do just about everything it can to build up the foundations and defenses against W-CDMA for what could be the wireless equivalent of the Betamax-VHS showdown/endgame at the end of the decade. But, apart from the usual message (BREW-enlightened people tell us BREW is easier, faster, simpler, **better** than Java), we do get an increasing sense of opportunity on the KDDI platform. And note that, last time we looked, KDDI took half of Japan痴 monthly net adds.
But that’s not all; as Wakimoto-san said: “US software is also advanced. For example, Java browsers key components came from the US. Most cellphones have Java or BREW [and] we think we have a huge business opportunity importing technology from overseas. ITX also imports device technologies for cellphones (including sensor- and camera-related modules, CCD and CMOS core technologies, DSPs). Japan is behind US and Europe; the cellphone market is advanced in Japan but we can pick up very many areas of technologies where Japan is behind.”