JIN-138 -- What J@pan Inc Is Not -- A Cheerleader for Japan

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. 138
Wednesday, June 27, 2001


+++ Viewpoint: What J@pan Inc Is Not -- A Cheerleader for Japan
+++ Noteworthy news
- Omron system lets shoppers pick up and pay for goods bought
- DoCoMo nears the 25 million mark -- how high will it go?
- Matsushita's all-weather PCs to hit market
+++ Worth a read


What J@pan Inc Is Not -- A Cheerleader for Japan

The latest issue of J@pan Inc (July) has two rather negative feature
articles about Japan. One deals with the way the business
establishment fails to reward innovators -- we tell of one who fled
to California -- and the other questions the ability of Japan's
handset makers to do well outside the domestic market given the
obstacles of software integration and internationalization.

In response to this latest issue, I was asked by someone who I'll
keep anonymous, "Isn't JI supposed to encourage foreigners to invest
in and do business in Japan?" The question surprised me, and the
answer, of course, is no. The mission of JI is to simply report it
like we see it. We have no agenda other than to educate readers. For
readers outside Japan -- we have 'em in over 35 countries now -- the
magazine can be used in three main ways. To:

1. Decide that doing business in/investing in Japan makes sense for
their company.
2. Decide that doing business in/investing in Japan makes no sense
for their company.
3. Determine whether cutting-edge developments in Japan can serve as
an accurate barometer for what will take place in their own market
and, if so, adapt accordingly.

I would guess most foreign readers use JI for reason No. 3. That'd be
MY main use. Before coming to these shores, I'd always wanted a way
to keep track of IT developments in this tech-savvy, cutting-edge

Need an example of the barometer use? Try 3G wireless services. A
recent Financial Times article on this subject quotes Robert Sofman,
senior VP of global wireless at Charles Schwab, in this passage:
"Once devices are 'always on,' Mr Sofman expects applications to
multiply well beyond what is currently possible. 'There will be a
whole host of new services we can't yet envision.'"

No need to envision, Mr Sofman, just look at Japan. Those always-on
services that cannot yet be envisioned have been here for months now,
and you could have been observing which ones have and haven't been
working, figuring out why, and then using that knowledge for your own
plans. J@pan Inc can help you do this.

But cheerleaders for Japan we are not. Besides, it isn't needed: The
country's high-tech prominence was established long ago -- it's just
the English-language analysis that's been missing.

-- Steve Mollman


Attention JI subscribers: The July issue of J@pan Inc magazine
is now available online. The table of contents can be viewed at


(Long URLs may break across two lines.)

** Omron system lets shoppers pick up and pay for goods bought online

EXTRACT: Omron, together with ten Japanese convenience stores, will
launch a system whereby goods purchased at online shopping sites can
be paid for at the convenience stores, Omron said Monday. The service
is expected to start in August.

COMMENTARY: Omron's been grabbing our attention a lot recently. First
with its face-recognition security products, then with its tying up
with Cellport on a telematics system, and now with this. Unlike the
multimedia kiosks in konbinis -- which we've made fun of mercilessly,
see http://www.japaninc.com/mag/comp/2001/05/may01_filter_stand.html
-- this idea makes sense. The problem with the kiosks is that, while
yes you can get just about anything online with them, nobody wants to
stand in a public place doing so -- especially if it means getting in
the way of rushed shoppers trying to buy beer. The **buying** and
**picking up** of products at konbinis makes sense -- at least in
Japan, where they're ubiquitous -- but the stand-commerce part does
not. Fix that side of the equation and you might just have the
winning formula. We'll see in six months or so.

SOURCE: "Omron, Convenience Stores To Start On-line Shopping Sys,"
June 25, Dow Jones, http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/010625/15/15ucl.html

** DoCoMo nears the 25 million mark -- how high will it go?

EXTRACT: NTT DoCoMo has increased its i-mode subscriber base to 24.6
million as of 18 June, up by about 600,000 subscribers from the end
of last month. Executive director Takeshi Natsuno said he expects the
number of subscribers for iMode to hit 25 million by the end of June.

COMMENTARY: Japan's population is about 127 million, and i-mode
already has 25 million subscribers, after being launched in February
1999. It's the primary way people in Japan access the Net. But how high
will it go? Japan's other wireless operators are chomping at DoCoMo's
heels (see "The Other i-modes" from our June issue, subscribers only,
at http://www.japaninc.com/mag/sub/2001/06/jun01_investor_imode.html)
and new products are arising that let everyone use i-mode content
(see "Server Transcodes i-mode Content," http://allnetdevices.com/

SOURCE: "DoCoMo's i-mode user base hits 24.6m," June 21, ZDNet UK,

** Matsushita's all-weather PCs to hit market

EXTRACT: Matsushita Electric Industrial said on Tuesday it will soon
launch a shock-resistant personal computer that can send data
wirelessly to its notebook-sized display at a distance of up to 50
metres (164 ft). The Panasonic Pronote AirFG can be used in damp and
dusty environments so can go to work at construction sites and
industrial plants, said Matsushita, which manufactures under the
Panasonic and National brands.

COMMENTARY: Construction sites, yes, but also cafes and airport
lounges. Wireless LANs are set to take off in a big way -- they could
be America's answer to Japan's browser phone revolution -- and any PC
being leased out for a few hours at a time will need to withstand
coffee spills, cranky kids with sticky food, and who knows what else.
Such PCs will be far superior to ones that need to be replaced more
often: customers won't be told no laptops are available due to
repairs, which in turn will lead to greater satisfaction with the
establishment. Also will be useful to, say, a small company leasing
jet-skis on the beach.

SOURCE: "Matsushita to sell shock-resistant wireless PC," Reuters,
June 26, http://news.zdnet.co.uk/story/0,,s2089984,00.html


** iLocus Show, the Biggest IP Telephony Trade Show to be held in
Hong Kong

Scheduled to be held on 31 July - 3 Aug 2001, iLocus Show (Asia 2001)
which will happen to be the biggest IP Telephony Trade Show in Asia,
will build further on success of the previous year's event. The event
will be a mix of exhibition and conference and will be devoted
entirely to the IP telephony industry, offering the best opportunity
to network with the right people in the industry in Asia. There will
be about 30 exhibitors and over 100 speakers at the event. Further
information please visit www.ilocus.com/asia2001.htm, email to
asia2001@ilocus.com or call + 852 2413 0918.

** Mobile Content & Portals 2001 Conference in Singapore

Having spent a fortune on 3G licenses, every operator worth its salt
are launching mass market internet portals for the delivery of
content to mobiles. It is hoped that one route to a quick return on
their investment will be by dominating the already crowded mobile
portal space. MOBILE CONTENT & PORTALS 2001 conference to be held at
the Grand Hyatt, Singapore from 9-10 July 2001 will be THE event that
offers both the opportunity to network with the leading lights of the
industry and the chance to arm yourself with the latest developments
in mobile content & portals. For further information, visit
http://www.ibc-asia.com/mobileportals.htm or contact Denise Ho at +65
835 5105, email: denise.ho@ibcasia.com.sg."

** Carriers World JAPAN 2001 takes off from 11-12 July at
Royal Park Hotel in Tokyo.

Everything you need to know about telecoms in Japan, in 2001 and
beyond. This conference features presentations by 23 industry leaders
who will share their vision for Japan carriers in the New Economy --
at a time when nothing is for certain except the need for innovation,
extensive contacts, and rich, up-to-date information. * Keynote
addresses by Alistair Grieve, CEO of Reach, and Tsunekazu Matsudaira,
Managing Director at KDDI * High-Level presentations and panel
discussions by 23 industry leaders including NTT, J-Phone, Crosswave,
France Telecom, US Embassy Tokyo, Level 3, Nomura Research Institute,
Exodus, Concert, ADC, Ovum, RateXchange, and many more.
Contact us at +65-322-2700, or email: fiona.chiew@terrapinn.com


"Blue About Japan
Shuji Nakamura invented the blue laser. That was big. If you've got a
DVD player, thank this guy. But Nakamura, profoundly disillusioned by
his treatment from corporate Japan, saw the light and fled to

This one is ours (subscribers only), but I couldn't resist including
it here. Really sheds light on how stifling corporate Japan is for
innovators -- not from the editors' Western perspective, but from
that of a Japanese innovator.


Written by Steve Mollman (steve@japaninc.net)
Assistance with news compilation:
Richard Ochero (richard@japaninc.com)

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(C) Copyright 2001 Japan Inc Communications. All Rights Reserved.