WW-97 -- Euro Feedback and the Future of WWJ

Wireless Watch Japan Mail Magazine
Commentary on the Business of Wireless in Japan
Issue No. 97, Tokyo, Tuesday, April 22, 2003

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in this issue

++ Viewpoint: Euro Feedback and the Future of WWJ


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++ Viewpoint: Euro Feedback and the Future of WWJ

I was absolutely overwhelmed by both the quantity and quality of the responses to my call
for Euro Feedback (see WWJ No. 95).

WWJ subscribers did a great job of summarizing and opinion-izing on the state of the
mobile Internet in Europe, and I would venture that the information contained below in
today's newsletter probably couldn't be purchased anywhere - or if it could, the cost
would be substantial.

My overall take after reading, editing (slightly), and collating the responses is that -
Wow! - Europe's come a long way in the past two years. It strikes me that Europe 2003 is
akin to Japan 2000, with new networks, data services, and innovative business models all
being trialled, proven, and - in some cases (Did someone say "KPN i-mode?") disproven.

It also appears that the operators are taking a much more aggressive approach towards
building the portals, owing the customer relationship, and amassing the content - very
similar to what NTT DoCoMo and the other Japanese carriers were doing in Year II of the
i-mode era (2000).

I'd like to offer my personal thanks to all of you who took time to respond (about 25
people in all). Today's WWJ is one of the best ever thanks to your commentary and efforts!

I decided to keep all submissions anonymous; some of you asked for this specifically,
others said it was OK to mention your name but not your company, and others weren't clear
at all on what you wanted, so the easiest approach by far was just to remove all names and
corporate affiliations. Note, however, that comments came in from major technology
vendors, analysts, consultants, media types, and at least one carrier, so there's quite a
wide range of expertise represented.

If, by chance, you don't see your comments below, I had to remove some that merely
repeated what others had said, or I merged two sets of comments together to save space
(this is already a monster issue due to volume). Oh - the cheeky headlines are mine... ;-)

Finally, a couple of disclaimers. All statements reproduced below are the opinions of the
authors and are neither endorsed nor certified in any way by the editors of WWJ; use this
information at your own risk. Also, WWJ makes no claim as to the veracity of statements of
fact rendered as such. Again, caveat emptor.

However, having said that, there's a gold mine of info in today's second-final WWJ
newsletter from Daniel - enjoy!


It was truly wonderful to see the volume of responses that also made mention of my leaving
Japan (and WWJ) - thanks! In fact, the expressions of support and encouragement for WWJ -
both mail and video - really caused Lawrence Cosh-Ishii and myself to rethink WWJ's fate.

The easiest tack (and the one that appeared most likely until a few days ago) was simply
to shut WWJ down and move on to other projects.

But it appears that there is a wide base of support for keeping both the newsletter and
the video series alive. It certainly appears that we have hit on some sort of interesting
niche - whether you want to call it "open source journalism," "microjournalism,"
"narrow-casting," or simply "Daniel and Larry's Blog" - and if similar-quality content can
continue to be produced, there's probably an audience for it.

There's one catch: convincing anyone else in Tokyo to join and maintain the project (and
there are several professional journalists similarly passionate about tech in general and
mobile in particular) will require something that WWJ hasn't had much of - revenue.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed, and it appears that as we look at morphing WWJ into
the post-Daniel-in-Tokyo era, we may have to rely on the consumers of this content to also
pay for it. (Both Lawrence and I have beat ourselves senseless looking for advertiser
support: It just won't work; the numbers are too small to interest an agency and the tech
firms aren't spending these days.)

It may be prudent to ask yourself the question: Would I pay for WWJ? Would my company
support one or several subscriptions to a service that comprised weekly Web casts of
interviews with people in the know here; lots of video coverage of terminals,
applications, and services (and how real people use them); and, a weekly mail newsmagazine
- plus (most likely) access to additional reports and Japan mobile facts?

That may be the only option for keeping this project going and growing.

Your feedback to daniel@wirelesswatchjapan.com will be keenly read.




--> Lack of Data Enthusiasm, Poor Economy, Crummy Terminals... Not to Mention Rampant
"Japan Envy"

I think what you will find in Europe is the following:
** A significant lack of enthusiasm for wireless data (non-SMS) among the masses.
** Poor economic conditions currently prevailing in W. Europe make it really difficult for
people to have fun with their celly.
** Terminals are built out of context from the services operators are trying to offer. For
example, MMS phones are still being sold without built-in cameras. What is the point?
** Marketing is lousy. An exception is Vodafone Live - but it is still too early to tell.
The services of Vodafone Live are not very exceptional.
** People still don't want to spend more than a fixed amount of income on their monthly
telecoms budget.


--> Awful French Ring Tones... and They Can't Get Good Sushi There, Either

My feeling is that the European market is much, much, slower (but you probably already
know this), and that most people here [Paris] just don't care about i-mode and the like -
even though you can notice a spark of interest when you hear a nice, 32-tone ring tone in
the train contrasting with those awful "beep-beep" [sounds] most people seem to enjoy

There are however services I had not seen in Japan before, such as a pre-recorded
practical joke service that allows you to hear the reaction of your victim... low-tech,
but definitively meeting a demand. Regarding market players, a friend of mine in the
[mobile] business compared [the situation in Europe] to the Americas's Cup - where
everybody is following their opponent's move without taking the risk to take a different


--> Interactive TV Controlled via SMS

As far as Europe [is concerned], one huge difference I noticed (I just went to Milia) is
the amount of phone-to-TV apps; using SMS for voting is one thing, but there are game
shows and all kinds of stuff that use SMS as the interaction channel. They don't require a
settop box - it's SMS in and just video out. Of course there are all kinds of other
interactive TV things, but I found this lowest denominator stuff very appealing from a biz
point of view.


--> SIM Cards Rock... and They Would in Japan, Too, if Carriers Actually Created any Apps
for 'em

I think the biggest difference you will see in Europe compared to Japan is the importance
of the SIM card. In can be argued that GSM succeeded as a world standard only because of
the SIM standard. For security, DRM, m-commerce, etc., the SIM card will play a very key
role and in 3G the UIM/R-UIM will continue that trend.


--> Vodafone Ads Much Hipper than i-Mode's ... How Much Money Does that Beckham Guy Need,

Which will triumph: i-mode or Vodafone Live? Hard to say based on 'objective grounds',
although the current numbers speak for themselves: V-Live has surpassed European i-mode
numbers by far. A perhaps even more telling sign comes from my wife: totally unwired as
she is, not at all familiar with the mobile industry, but with a lot of experience in
being a consumer: when I asked her this same question just the other day, she didn't
hesitate: Vodafone Live will win, because their ad campaign is much hipper than i-mode's.
V-Live has a much stronger appeal than KPN's i-mode. I have had an i-mode phone for almost
a year now, but never felt the need to use its i-mode features here in Holland. V-Live
phones come with a camera however, and combined with MMS, that seems more attractive.

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** Message from Nelson Fung, creator of classY Mobile:

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--> OMA Not There Yet...

* Vodafone Live! will fly long-term but is yet much too expensive for mass market (e.g.
min 40 cents for a picture mail, and 1 Euro for one MMS video soccer goal). Operators here
keep the market silent due to overpricing. I tend to believe this is strategy as cash flow
for MOs is good, churn relatively small, and thus the current market is worth milking a
bit longer before innovating.

* Another reason for slow data take-up is that cost control is a big issue for
subscribers, and basically unsupported today. You never know what your phone bill will
look like. We need to get to subscription-based services, e.g. Euro 20 for all live goals
of your club in a soccer season.

** Marketing changes to the better, e.g. carriers stop branding WAP and MMS and start
branding "user benefits." This will surely translate into better service take-up. i-mode
is unlikely to be a success in Europe as they make the same marketing mistakes that all
European carriers made with WAP, and as the terminals are missing.

** Mobile media companies have discovered the mobile channel and will start branding
music, news, and sports services. Much will depend on how smart carriers are to stay out
of the branding. In my eyes, Sony Music is much more likely to succeed than 3 Music.

** There's still very little attention to the corporate market, except in the Netherlands.
I believe operators will discover this important data revenue driver especially for 3G,
and start concentrating on corporate access solutions.

** Japanese devices start hitting the market (especially through Vodafone Live!), but
Nokia is good enough to still stay ahead. Difficult to predict; my guess is that Japanese
firms will gain considerable market share within the next 2 years.

** Operators start forming (service) conglomerates to attack Vodafone's dominance.
Single-sign on authentication/charging, Parlay and/or Web Services, and owning CPs and
developers will be major success drivers for MOs. Check out for example

** OMA is not yet there but will definitely have a large impact in the mid-term,
especially on service interoperability and usability. Work in standardization bodies like
3GPP starts to pay off, as I can for example send a video (3gp format) MMS between a 7650
and a P800over both GPRS, IR, and Bluetooth without any problems.


--> We Can't Believe Any Other Wireless Newsletter Matters

Back to the mobile in Europe:
** http://www.nordicwirelesswatch.com - I guess it's possibly one of the best newsletters
about mobile in Europe.
** Keep an eye on what Brainheart does - www.brainheart.com - especially for the WLAN.
** SyncML - it's cool and it looks [to be] building up www.funanmbol.com.
** TIM-Vodafone-Telefonica: keep an eye on them.


--> Everything You Need to Know in One, er, Short Report

VENDORS: Most vendors take mobile entertainment very seriously here. Some examples:

** Nokia is very active through Forum Nokia, providing developers as well as operators
with information, SDK's and events to boost application development and deployment. Nokia
offers three levels of handsets that can run downloadable content: series 30, series 40,
and series 60. Series 60 is the most powerful, based on Symbian and with a lot of
processing power, display resolution, and memory. Series 30 and 40 do support J2ME, but
with a more limited footprint.

** Nokia is of course also working on the N-Gage, a Series 60-based portable game console.
Because of this, Nokia is not just empowering handsets to run mobile games, but will
actually publish games for the N-Gage themselves. The market is very curious on how the
N-Gage will be received when it's launched later this year (Q3/Q4).

** Other big European Symbian supporters are Siemens and (Sony-) Ericsson. I myself have a
Sony Ericsson p800, which is a true Smartphone - a large, PDA-style touchscreen, built-in
camera, 12 MB internal memory, Memory stick expandable memory, good audio/video
capabilities, GPRS, Bluetooth, etc. It's currently the most powerful handset on the EU
market, although not the most stylish (it's on the bulky side...). Siemens will introduce
a more elegant Symbian phone soon, but that lacks the touchscreen. Smaller phones by
Siemens run J2ME too and Sony Ericsson offers both J2ME and the Mophun platform for games.

** Some main Japanese vendors are finally bringing advanced handsets to the EU market too,
of course Sharp offers the Vodafone Live handset and i-mode launched with an NEC phone.
Something which has always been incomprehensible to me is why KPN launched i-mode with
such an outdated NEC phone - and up until today, there has been no J2ME/i-appli support
for any of the i-mode clients in Europe! The NEC and Sharp prototypes and Japan phones I
saw at CeBIT and 3GSM impressed my a lot, I hope we'll see more of these highly advanced
models coming to Europe sooner! Trium/Mitsubishi seem to be less focussed on Europe, and
Panasonic also hasn't introduced J2ME phones here either. You can't beat the robustness
and usability of a Nokia, but the Japanese vendors offer so many more sexy features, so
it'll be an interesting clash for sure!

** Samsung is not big yet, but are pushing hard to become an established handset vendor in
Europe. I especially was impressed by their UMTS handsets.

** We just received a Microsoft Smartphone in our office to debug an application last
week. It seems like a powerful platform, but is quite business oriented. It has been
introduced in the Swiss and UK markets earlier this year and will be rolled out in Orange
networks first. I do take Microsoft very seriously in their desire to enter this market,
so I follow this closely, but hope that they will lift it from a PDA-like corporate tool
to something that will appeal to more generic consumers in the near future.

** There are some blackberry users, since there's a GPRS version - I trialled one myself
early last year. It's a brilliant device to boost messaging connectivity for business
users on the road, but it's definitely not massive.

** Of course some vendors actually make more money on their infrastructure work, so they
have a dualistic role. They are very much interested in pushing handsets that will use
more of the networks, thereby increasing demand for their GPRS, localisation, UMTS, etc.,
products. Alcatel is clear example for this, they showcase UMTS and are feverishly looking
for proper UMTS applications. Dutch/British LogicaCMG is a big integrator for these kinds
of projects.


** Vodafone is pushing Vodafone Live. Hard. It's not hugely successful, but it certainly
seems to be doing better than i-mode. Vodafone's marketing is everywhere, where i-mode
doesn't have much new to offer. I think it's a huge miss that KPN let Vodafone take a lead
in downloadable (J2ME) games, something which KPN could have had from the beginning had
they chosen more advanced handsets (like VF did with the Sharp GX10). The great thing from
Vodafone of course is that they are bringing awareness to nearly everyone that there's
more you can do with your phone than SMS or phone calls. Even their competition has to
thank them for that. And of course, Vodafone is pretty solid in the corporate market too.
For application developers, they are on one hand the dream operator, on the other hand a
bit on the arrogant side, demanding a bigger slice of service revenues than other

** I already mentioned KPN. I wished they were doing better, but it seems that they have
not been successful at materializing the edge they had over the rest with the i-mode. A
lot of the claimed subscribers in the Netherlands are actually because they gave a ton of
handsets away to employees of a large bank, to be able to claim that targets have been
met. And with VF Live in the market, KPN's marketing seems tiny, even here in their home

** Orange is big here too of course. An interesting thing is that they offer an
all-you-can-eat subscription, which basically allows you to download all you want for
about 6 Euro per month. Not sure if they do that in every country, though. And of course
they're the first to bring the Smartphone to the EU market.

** T-Mobile is huge, especially in Germany. They have the whole range, from business to
pay-as-you-go for kids. (This charging model is big everywhere in Europe, but even more so
in Southern Europe). In Holland, they have taken a more serious image recently, shying
away the hip kids in the street but attracting more business users.

** O2 is quite innovative too, for instance by introducing the XDA (a Windows CE based
pocket PC/GPRS phone hybrid) and the Blackberry in Europe. They do some UMTS trials on the
Isle of Man.

** I don't know much about Telefonica or TIM, but they're huge in Southern Europe and
South America. In Italy, operator Wind is an interesting case, since they're the first
operator to publicly announce that they're willing to give part of the data traffic
revenues to content providers. All other operators stick to just sharing the service
subscription fees.


** In Europe, SMS is big obviously. Not just for person-to-person communication, but also
to interact with a TV show or to subscribe to a horoscope, etc. Recently, there have been
complaints of people that once send an SMS and keep receiving messages with reversed
billing, causing unwanted items on their phone bills and a bad reputation for commercial
SMS services in general.

** A lot of large entertainment companies and broadcasters are betting big time on SMS and
other forms of mobile entertainment to spice up their formats. You can hardly switch on
your TV nowadays and not be invited to answer a question or subscribe to an SMS-zine.

** Ring tones and logos are also generating a lot of revenue, but you'll be disappointed
to find out they're mostly non-polyphonic and black & white in nature. We can learn a lot
from Japan here.

** Gaming downloads are just getting started, again lead by Vodafone. WAP gaming seems to
be enjoying a small second wave of enthusiasm, after the first wave proved to be
short-lived. But most people are counting on more flexible and powerful ways to run an
application on their phones. J2ME is the industry standard that most vendors and customers
go for, whereas Symbian offers a mature platform with a lot of experienced developers that
will be most appealing to power users. There are some proprietary game
platforms/libraries/extensions for handsets, including Mophun, BREW, and In-fusio. Some of
them may be big, but I doubt they'll lead any serious industry in Europe. Of these,
In-fusio probably [has] the biggest installed base in Europe.

There are a lot of small and medium sized game publishers/marketplaces, but their will be
quite a struggle the coming years to find out who'll be on top. There are few pan-European
games/entertainment companies today, so I expect to see a lot of mergers and
reorganisations as companies figure out a healthy business model.

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--> Adult Content Doing Well... unlike in Japan Where the Naughty Bits Stay off the Phone

** The European market is, I believe, breaking into the walled garden content services run
by the operators and the independent content services. The walled gardens such as Vodafone
Live, i-mode, and now Three in the UK allow for interactivity within the services. The
independent content providers who cannot access the walled gardens are left with SMS/MMS
and reverse billing.

** European mobile consumers are used to using text contained in an SMS [message] to serve
as the return path, thus [compensating for] the lack of interactivity in the SMS/MMS
formats, in addition the fact that a content provider cannot access the walled garden does
not stop successful services being developed, for example girlwalker.com in Japan is an
unofficial i-mode site.

** Up to now, the only really compelling content services developed in Europe have been
ring tones and logos. A number of chat and news alert type services exist but these are
not compellingly profitable or useable as ring tones and logos (of course there is always
adult - and it's doing well!).

** A number of operators such as Vodafone are opening up their networks via their
developers programme, such as viavodafone; they have recently signed an agreement with
clickmarks to allow content providers access via a single gateway to all their European
networks using SMS/MMS and location information including roaming via a graphical design
interface. These may allow some compelling services to be be developed very quickly.

** A number of contacts in the industry have implied that people are seeking i-mode/Korea
content experience to replicate the success of these services in Europe as part of either
a walled garden or possibly less likely in the MMS space.

** In the short term without access to walled gardens, MMS services associated with
TV/magazines will succeed due to promotion and interactivity over TV, etc. Content
providers who do not have existing media brands should focus on mobile content (not
getting confused with a Internet/mobile mix) using MMS and reverse billing as it is
possible to have an MMS platform and a single billing partner to gain access to the whole
European market, including roaming for a very reasonable price.


--> And Which One Will Offer a Trade-in Discount to Japan Transferees with a 2-Year-Old
Panasonic i-mode Phone?

Here some quick facts and trends on the 4 German Mobile Network Operators (MNO) that
constitute the distribution oligopoly in Europe's largest mobile market. All run their
mobile Internet portals but with limited success so far. All are pricing GPRS too high.
All share too little revenue on Premium SMS such that over 90% of premium SMS services are
"mobile sex business."

** Vodafone Live introduced Vodafone-branded Japanese handsets from Sharp and Panasonic
with cameras, MMS, and Java to the market. By this they successfully copied the Japanese
model of operator-branded and specified devices. Thanks to ultra-heavy TV advertising they
are selling well - about 400,000 subs so far in Germany. Games are the key revenue source.
Nokia's 3650 will be one of the new flagship devices for Vodafone and all other MNOs
(including an i-mode-compatible version). Vodafone also pushes Mobile Business Solutions
into the market, an area where Europe and USA clearly are more advanced than Asia.
Vodafone has a loyalty programme in coop with Lufthansa's miles & more. Vodafone starts
UMTS in the second half of 2003.

** i-mode, offered by E-Plus in Germany, is dragging behind and they clearly missed their
window of opportunity. Around July i-mode is launching the N31i from NEC with Java, MMS,
camera, and high-res screen - unfortunately 15 months too late to make a difference. There
are maybe around 125,000 i-mode subs in Germany at the moment - not enough for CPs to make
an i-mode living. Now, E-Plus thinks about launching a print magazine featuring i-mode
CPs. There is no visible portal or magazine in the unofficial i-mode content area up to
now as there are not enough subs to make a business case. UMTS planned for late 2003/early

** T-Mobile calls their portal "t-zones" and my impression is that they are not very good
at bringing in many CPs and bill third parties at the moment. Somehow, T-Mobile still
offers a lot of content under their sub-brands (t-sports, t-info, etc.). At the same time,
T-Mobile will launch new devices such as Danger's hiptop and the Microsoft Smartphone in
the second half of 2003 as they try out anything to raise data ARPU. T-Mobile is the first
operator to have launched a permission community for mobile advertising called "T-Mobile
Ads." Incentives for voluntary mobile ad readers are loyalty points from T-Mobile's
loyalty programme called "Happy Digits." During CeBIT T-Mobile announced lower GPRS
prices, yet at 9 Euro/MB it is still too expensive. T-Mobile starts UMTS in the second
half of 2003.

** O2, smallest MNO in Germany, is also running a mobile portal but somehow keeps a lower
profile among content and application providers in Germany. Their re-branding into O2
(formerly Viag Interkom) was a success although it cost massive amounts of cash. Like
T-Mobile (MDA), O2 pushes the Pocket PC-powered connected PDA XDA and RIM's Blackberry
quite successfully. UMTS planned for late 2003/early 2004.

** Still, 2003 is a good year for innovative content and application providers to approach
MNOs in Germany as they are open for anything helping them to differentiate and to add
value for their subscribers. But don't expect too much revenue in your business case
during 2003 and 2004 unless you want to be part of the Premium SMS-enabled mobile sex


--> We're Still Shocked at Mention of Any Other Newsletter

You may already have this - this site produces a couple of newsletters on the European
scene. They also have a search tool on it for past articles: http://www.europemedia.net.

++ Events (promotion)

Brand Mythology: results-driven strategies to leverage the brand story
Four Seasons Hotel, Tokyo
Wednesday May 28th 2003

Main issues to be discussed:
- Fusion of the brand and business strategy
- Brand management in crisis and recession
- Delivering global brands in foreign markets
- B2B targeted versus consumer sector branding
- Global and local case studies of failure and success

Online registration is available at:

Subscriber Statistics, Corrections, Credits, Administrivia

Last week I stated: "If users aren't prepared to pay for one of the sure-to-be
premium-priced Panasonic 1.3-megapixel 505i models, they're probably also too cheap to use
packets to offload pics." Actually, it's the SO (Sony Ericsson) model that has the
1.3-megapixel camera.

4,125 (via japaninc.com and wwj.com) as of Apr. 22, 2002

WWJ Video Newsmagazine host & research:
Daniel Scuka (daniel@wirelesswatchjapan.com)

WWJ Mail Newsletter editor & host:
Daniel Scuka (daniel@wirelesswatchjapan.com)

WWJ Sr. Contributing Editor:
Michael Thuresson (mthuresson@labusinessjournal.com)

WWJ Video Newsmagazine digital media producer:
Lawrence Cosh-Ishii (lcosh-ishii@wirelesswatchjapan.com)


Text copyright (C) 2003 WirelessWatchJapan.com. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole
or in part by any means without written permission is strictly prohibited. WWJ Mail
Magazine is republished by J@pan Inc magazine by special permission.