Different Approaches To Wireless

Back to Contents of Issue: January 2001

A chart demonstrating how Japan and the US/Europe have approached the mobile Net differently.

NAMA BIRU, KAORIAGE, nanawari sake from Nagano, and endless discussion on the wireless Web. That was the scene a few weeks ago as editors from J@pan Inc joined wireless gurus Jeffery Funk and Lars Christensson at the Saishoku Ginshu izakaya in Shibuya.

Funk is associate professor at the Kobe University Graduate School of Business; Christensson the wireless expert at Stockholm-based startupfactory (on a reconnaissance mission of sorts). At one point, Funk, completely unprovoked, whipped out a chart demonstrating the differences between Japanese and European approaches to the wireless Web. It became the focal point of our discussion. Above is a slightly modified version of the chart, incorporating comments and thoughts from around the table.

As presented here, the chart's main idea is that there's a tradeoff between the richness and the reach of the wireless Web, where "richness" refers to the quality of information -- text, sound, images, video -- and "reach" to how easily users can participate in the sharing of information from wherever they happen to be. Funk contends that Europe and the US are approaching the mobile Net from a point high on richness but low on reach, whereas Japan, with lower PC penetration in the home but plenty of cellphones on the move, is approaching it from a point high on reach but low on richness. Neither approach has resulted in the common goal -- a truly rich media device you can take anywhere -- but in the meantime Japan has cooler cellphones. PDA/cellphone hybrids score highest.

As the night wound down and we staggered toward the door, we chanced upon a unique interior design element of this particular izakaya: embedded into the concrete floor, along with coins, pens, keys, and other pocket debris, were cellphone handsets. Reach.

Different Ways of Approaching the Wireless Web

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