J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
T H E J @ P A N I N C N E W S L E T T E R
Commentary on the week's business and technology news
Issue No. 125
Wednesday, March 21, 2001
- What's new
- Yen watch
- News in Japan
- International news
- Jobs roundup
- Upcoming events
- News credits
+++ WHAT'S NEW
Welcome to a slightly different JIN. Until now, this
newsletter has been written by Terrie Lloyd, the publisher
of J@pan Inc and the president of LINC Media. From this
point forward, it will be written instead by the editors
of the magazine. If you prefer Terrie's take on things,
don't worry: you're still subscribed to his newsletter,
which is now called Terrie's Take and located at
www.terrie.com. If at any point you want to unsubscribe
to either newsletter, simply visit
We thought we'd start off by re-acquainting you with
what J@pan Inc -- online and in print -- represents.
At its core, J@pan Inc is about technology innovation
in Japan. Specifically, it covers the products, companies,
and people behind such innovation; more broadly,
it touches upon related topics, such as VC funding,
cultural trends, and academia-industry cooperation.
Our mission is to cover these matters objectively,
without preference, exaggeration, or boosterism.
Japan's prolonged recession is leading to government
deregulation, a more flexible and transparent corporate
culture, and changing attitudes in society toward
entrepreneurialism. The nation's technology
innovation, already cutting-edge, is increasing thanks
to more entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and meritocracy-based
work environments in which good ideas survive and flourish.
Fresh concepts and entirely new industries are being born
The wireless Web is a perfect example: Large companies
like NEC and NTT DoCoMo are creating new handsets and
services available only in Japan, and young Japanese
startups like Cybird and Open Loop are devising unique
m-commerce and security business models that can be found
nowhere else in the world.
Japan is a test bed for the world's digital, robotic,
and wireless future. Anyone involved in technology
-- in any field, in any country -- will benefit
from following Japan's high-tech developments.
That's what J@pan Inc is for. Whichever medium you choose
to access it through, we hope you find it to be a valuable,
entertaining, and enlightening source of information.
+++ YEN WATCH (at close of market each weekday)
12Mo 13Tu 14We 15Th 16Fr
US 121.10 121.35 120.80 121.90 123.25
UK 180.37 180.24 177.65 178.79 179.72
Eur 113.36 113.35 111.02 111.70 111.29
Can 79.28 79.21 79.21 79.26 80.04
Aus 63.06 63.15 62.22 61.82 62.45
Ind 2.77 2.78 2.76 2.78 2.81
* Figures courtesy of Tokyo-Mitsubishi bank
+++ NEWS IN JAPAN
- Sony becomes No. 2 PC maker in Japan
- Performance-based salaries flop at Fujitsu
- Sony releases details on new PDA, slated for April release
- Toshiba kit supports wireless links between PC and projector
- Four firms establish on-demand publishing joint venture
- Kyushu Matsushita Electric preps portable DVD-ROM and CD-R/RW drive
-> Sony becomes No. 2 PC maker in Japan
(Nikkei BP Asia BizTech)
[EXTRACT:] Sony moved into the No. 2 spot in PC sales in
Japan in February, passing Fujitsu and moving closer to market
leader NEC. Sharp and Apple took fourth and fifth place.
In cellphones, the flip-style N502it model held the top position.
[COMMENTARY:] With all the attention being focused on Net cellphones
in Japan, it's easy to forget that PC sales continue to increase.
One study we would love someone to do: determine if there's a
correlation between increasing Net cellphone usage and
rising PC sales. How many Japanese consumers are getting their
first taste of the Net on their cellphones and then "upgrading"
to home computers?
-> Performance-based salaries flop at Fujitsu
[EXTRACT:] A pay-for-performance salary system at Fujitsu resulted
in a few hit products but overall didn't work out. Employees
created easily attainable goals, neglected things that didn't show
up in evaluations (like after-sale services), and left unexpected
problems for coworkers to handle. Fujitsu won't return to a
seniority-based system, but will find some other way to make merit
the basis for promotion.
[COMMENTARY:] Hats off to Fujitsu for trying. We've written before
about how the impression that Japanese are not creative is a false one
In fact, Japanese workers tend to be extremely bright and innovative,
but traditional seniority-based systems discourage them from
sharing their ideas effectively. Fujitsu will find the right balance
for Japanese culture eventually; the result should be some cool new
ideas. And if other Japanese titans follow its lead ...]
J@pan Inc is providing its content to "World Traveler"
Northwest Airlines' in-flight Japanese-language magazine,
which consists of a worldwide readership of 200,000 and is
available in every passenger seat pocket of 200 weekly
flights to and from Japan. For advertisement inquiries
for the May/June 2001 issue, please contact
email@example.com. Tel: +81-3-3499-2099
-> Sony releases details on new PDA, slated for April release
Translated PR, dated 3/14/2001, courtesy Digitized Information
[EXTRACT:] On April 7, Sony Marketing will bring to the market the
CLIE PEG-N700C, a Palm operating system-embedded PDA. The product
comes with a 320x320x-pixel front-lit reflection low-temperature
polysilicon TFT color LCD supporting the company's proprietary
"high-res" fonts, and a slot for a Memory Stick capable of storing
128MB of data, an equivalent of 160 minutes of music data. Likely to
retail for about 50,000 yen ($413), the PDA also comes with AudioPlayer,
music player software, TV Sccape, TV program capturing software,
gMovie, video viewer software, and NavinYouPocket, map viewer software.
The company plans to ship a Bluetooth adapter in late June.
[COMMENTARY:] Clie users in Japan can get online already, but they have
to use a cable to hook the PDA up to their cellphone, which acts as a
modem. Since people only have two arms, this is inconvenient. The Bluetooth
adapter will let users keep the cellphone in the pocket,
even when it's connecting their Clie to the Net.]
-> Toshiba kit supports wireless links between PC and projector
Translated PR, dated 3/15/2001, courtesy Digitized Information
[EXTRACT:] On March 28, the company will begin marketing the Bluetooth
data projector kit, the world's first Bluetooth-compliant application
software. The kit supports wireless links between a PC and projector
and simplifies the set-up and adjustment of equipment for meetings,
promotional events, and presentations. The kit, which will later be
released in the U.S. and European markets, supports any Toshiba
Windows 98 SE/ME PC and the TLP-X20J and TLP-X21J LCD data projectors
with a PC Card slot. The price is 65,000 yen ($542).
[COMMENTARY:] Question is, will Bluetooth devices from Toshiba
work with devices from other companies. See the International News
-> Four firms establish on-demand publishing joint venture
Translated PR, dated 3/14/2001, courtesy Digitized Information
[EXTRACT:] On March 14, Kodansha, Shogakukan, Microsoft Japan,
and Fuji Xerox established Contents Works, an on-demand
publishing company. Capitalized at 200 million yen ($1.7 mil),
the joint venture is owned 30% each by Kodansha, Shogakukan,
and Fuji Xerox and 10% by Microsoft. The new company will
gradually take over BookPack, Fuji Xerox's on-demand
publishing business, and provide users services, whereby
they will be able to publish their own books and create content
by combining data available in cyber space. The sales targets
are 900 million yen ($7.4 mil) in 2003 and 1.5 billion yen
($12.4 mil) in 2005.
[COMMENTARY:] The idea of letting users make their own
combinations of content is a powerful one. Why don't music
publishers, for example, set up a site where users can arrange
mixes of songs AND sell them? The publisher could take a percentage
of the sales. It'd be a new way to squeeze more revenue out of its
database of titles. Let the fans do the work for you, and reward them
for it, all the while making a profit that otherwise wouldn't exist.
No copyright loss, no new staff to hire other than systems support.
-> Kyushu Matsushita Electric preps portable DVD-ROM and CD-R/RW drive
Translated PR, dated 3/13/2001, courtesy Digitized Information
[EXTRACT:] The KXL-CB10AN is the industry's first portable drive
that plays both DVD-ROM and CD-R/RW. Due for release on
March 23, the device is capable of writing on CD-R 8x and
on CD-RW 4x and of reading CD-ROM 24x. The compact drive
employs a newly developed single pickup lens that supports
both DVD and CD-R/RW wavelengths of 650nm and 780nm, respectively.
The product bundles the PowerDVD VR-X DVD player software,
B's Recorder GOLD CD-R/RW authoring tool, and B's CLiP packet writing
software. The open-priced product measures 130x157x18.5mm
and weighs 340g. The Matsushita subsidiary plans to manufacture
8,000 units per month.
[COMMENTARY:] My Zip drive is giving me that worried,
+++ INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- Bluetooth gets a toothache
- Palm releases its next-gen handheld
- Wireless LANs pose a threat to 3G operators
- NTT DoCoMo making moves on South Korea
-> Bluetooth gets a toothache
(Nikkei BP Asia BizTech)
[EXTRACT:] Bluetooth devices made by different manufacturers
already can't communicate with each other because there are at
least three different standards of the "standard."
[COMMENTARY:] Bluetooth is supposed to be THE single standard
that connects all the devices in our "personal area network" (PAN)
together wirelessly, eliminating the hassle of cables and wires.
We suspect more confusion is on the way, and wouldn't be surprised if
a dark-horse wireless standard -- one that grows organically and spreads
like wildfire -- challenges Bluetooth. Still, there's no denying
that Japan's consumers electronics giants are hopping on the
Bluetooth bandwagon in a big way.
-> Palm releases its next-gen handheld
[COMMENTARY:] Palm has released its next-gen handheld (right
after this editor, of course, bought the now outdated Palm Vx).
Palm has responded to the HandSpring Visor and Sony's Clie
by adding two expansion slots, one for add-on modules like digital
cameras (imitating the Visor) and one for additional memory
(similar to Sony's Memory Stick). It should be a great product,
but one thing about all the current handhelds bothers me:
they have up and down buttons, but not sideways ones like
my Japanese cellphone. When I finish reading an Avant Go
article, I want an easy way to go back to the last screen.
My thumbs can only take so much.
PLANNING TO ENTER THE JAPANESE MARKET? Are you seeking
VC funding? Does your company need help with advertising?
Accounting? Translation? Software localization? Are you looking for
office space? If so, go to www.j-door.com, your source for
information and access to Japan's leading business experts
and investors. Check out our newsletter at:
-> Wireless LANs pose a threat to 3G operators
(The Sunday Times)
[EXTRACT:] Nomura technology analyst Keith Woolcock is says
wireless LANs could be a "disruptive technology," especially
for cellular operators who have paid heavy 3G licensing fees.
Companies such as Vodafone, Nokia and BT Cellnet
"face a bleak few years as they re-adjust to
hyper-competition" from these LANs. In the US, for example,
the 802.11b wireless LAN technology is spreading quickly.
It uses free spectrum, which is a lot cheaper than 3G licenses.
[COMMENTARY:] Of course, Japanese cellular operators like NTT
DoCoMo never had to pay 3G licenses to begin with
(government-industry cooperation can be a good thing, sometimes).
There's another angle to all this that few have thought much
about yet, but I don't want to scoop the April cover story of JI.
Read it next week and you'll find out.
-> NTT DoCoMo making moves on South Korea
[EXTRACT:] NTT DoCoMo is in the lead for buying a stake of
South Korean mobile operator SK Telecom, which is raising
money for its upcoming 3G rollout. DoCoMo may yet be beat
out by a European operator.
[COMMENTARY:] NTT DoCoMo is keeping with its strategy of
buying minority stakes in cellcos around the world. One
thing the media keeps overlooking: a major motivation for
DoCoMo in its worldwide expansion is lowering its national
infrastructure costs by getting everyone on board the W-CDMA
bandwagon. If operators around the world are on board,
component prices for W-CDMA equipment will go down.
If DoCoMo owns a little bit of a cellular
operator, it can nudge it in the W-CDMA direction
-- as opposed to a different standard, like cdma2000.
We cover this more in our upcoming April issue.
+++ JOBS ROUNDUP (Advertisement)
For more listings, visit WorkinJapan.com at
Share Services Corporation
>Network Engineer JPY 5~8m
>Senior Technical Support Engineer JPY 5~8m
>Network Consulting Sales Tokyo JPY 4~8m
PPM Japan, Limited
>Senior Fund Manager, Japanese Equities JPY 15m+
>Senior Credit Analyst JPY 12m+
>IT Manager JPY 10m+
Stoneman Corporation (Agent/Recruiter)
>SAP Project Manager/Consultants JPY 6~18m
>Systems Engineer/Technical Architect JPY 8~15m
>UNIX Systems Administrator JPY 8~15m
+++ UPCOMING EVENTS (Advertisement)
-> Asia-Pacific e-Commerce Summit 2001
May 18-20, 2001 The Orchid at Mauna Lani, Hawaii, USA
The Asia-Pacific e-Commerce Summit is an event exclusive to
senior-level Asia-Pacific e-commerce executives who are
intent on implementing strategies for the next generation
of advanced e-commerce infrastructures. Program includes
workshop sessions, case studies, and keynote presentations
from industry leaders such as Tomohiro Nishihata, Director,
e-Business Planning and Marketing, Japan Air Lines; Tim
Kasbe, Vice President e-Business Large Enterprise
Extranets, IBM; Alex Kong, Chairman and CEO,
Asiatravelmart.com. Event URL: www.AsiaPacificEcomSum.com
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Presented by marcus
evans, a world leader in business intelligence.
-> 4th Annual 3G Mobile Communications Global Summit Japan 2001
The Institute for International Research, the world's largest
conference group, is pleased to announce this event, to be
held from April 3-5 at The Westin Tokyo Hotel. The agenda
has been extensively researched to focus on the challenges
ahead and solutions for successful 3G deployment. For FULL
SUMMIT PROGRAMME and REGISTRATION FORM, please download
INTERNATIONAL DELEGATES, contact IIR-email --
email@example.com or tel +852 2219 0111 or fax your
registration form to +852 2219 0112. DELEGATES IN JAPAN,
contact ICS -- email firstname.lastname@example.org or
tel +81-3-3263-6474 or fax your registration form to
-> Events announcements are priced at JPY50,000 per week.
Contact Meshal Yoshida at 3499-2099 (email@example.com).
+++ NEWS CREDITS
We wish to thank the generosity and cooperation of the
following news sources:
1) Digitized Information (daily Japanese news)
A. Tsukioka, 03-3465-7069, firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Computergram (daily International)
A.Byrnes, 03-5232-0647, email@example.com
3) CNet (random International news) http://www.news.com
Written and edited by Steve Mollman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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