I guess you can say, it is about time! Kyocera launched at CTIA this last spring with their first entry into the America’s after waiting and seeing for many years…NT&T DoCoMo brought Android to the Japanese Market in April with the Sony Xperia and Softbank was soon to follow with their Android device.
From the walled gardens of the different marketplaces to the open platforms, the world has come alive for the cross-border opportunity again. I am excited to see these high-end toys now entering the states to offer a unique variety to the same old stuff we have seen. Japan was very strong in the consumer product space in the 80′s and early 90′s, but then it stopped. The re-emergence of the US industry in the consumer space with Palms, iPods and the flurry of electronics from the Korean’s and the Taiwanese seemed to be become the replacement.
So what will be different that will make us want to buy them? It is not just a hardware game anymore, but a one-stop-shop for all kinds of services. My feeling is that we will start to see followers to the Google-TV example that started with Sony for a complete array of interesting cross-media interactivity….. Will Hitachi bring back its household goods back with a twist on mobile: Google-Refrigerator? What about Casio and their cool G-shocks tied to the mobile device : Google-Watch? and even NEC following Sony with the Google-TV series? These are some of the areas where I think the Japanese can really accelerate the convergence of mobile and everything around us.
1) Cross-platform integration into the consumer electronics space
2) Unique uses of mobile wallet and integration between products
3) Cool, fun, innovative designs and market demo differentiation. Highest of High quality….
4) Enterprise products and services for small and medium businesses
5) Access to the wonderful world of Japanese sourced content.
6) Unique integrations amoungst the Japanese suppliers themselves…. Wii?
7) Cross-Carrier cooperation ( i.e. JIL )
Deep rooted relationships between Japanese companies and Microsoft and Google
9) Heavy industry and mobile. ( Trains, Buses, Elevators, Escalators, Ticket machines all integrated to mobile)
10) ….. or just another Android, Windows mobile device?
Techcrunch reported last year that NEC, Hitachi and Casio were in negotiations to merge their cell phone operations to become Japan’s second biggest manufacturer, following Sharp. And the new company, which is called NEC Casio Mobile Communications and was established on May 1, just yesterday announced ambitious expansion plans.
According to reports in various Japanese media, NEC Casio Mobile plans to ship a total of 12 million cell phones in fiscal 2012, up a whopping 60% of all handsets NEC, Hitachi and Casio together shipped in 2009 (the companies will merge their cell phone operations on June 1).
All of Japan’s eight (soon six) major cell phone makers are going through a slump currently, mainly due to a shrinking domestic market and rising development costs for advanced cell phones. In Japan, the new company wants to cooperate with all three national carriers (Docomo, KDDI au, and SoftBank Mobile).
In the US, NEC Casio Mobile is said to currently look into building business ties with Verizon and AT&T, according to reports. The company expects 4 million of those 12 million cell phones it plans to ship in 2012 to go to markets outside Japan.