Tag Archives: globalization

Japan, Globalization and Telecoms

Shinjuku Harajuku Akihabara

I have been in Tokyo this week, almost 2 years after I spent a few months living there.

The Telecom market has evolved specially in mobile, with eMobile as a new 3G player and with Vodafone, unable to cope with the specificities of the market, selling their Japanese operations to Softbank.

Japanese are still addict to emailing with their phone while in the train. Around 80% of the passengers in a given wagon will have their clam shell handset open and will be thumbing intensively on the phone keyboard.

What is new is that you start to see people watching TV on their handsets.

What is not new, is that no one has any phone conversation while in the train (or while in restaurants) as they consider it impolite.

Japan has always been an example of one of the few developed countries where Globalization has had less impact, specially in habits and culture.

Except for Starbucks, McDonalds, Luois Vuitton, Baseball and iPod few overseas concepts have succeed in Japan. What is more, Japanese could argue that they have influenced more the World with their culture, than the World has influenced them: Karate, Karaoke, Sushi, Toyota, Manga as well as PS3, Nintendo, Sony Walkman… One of Japanese frustrations is not to have invented the iPod themselves.

But no wonder that globalization is impacting Japan, specially in the corporate arena. As The Economist published last week, Japanese companies are incorporating western business concepts to the Japanese style what made them so successful in the 80s.

The Telecom industry also give us an example of how globalization is difficult to resist.

Japan was the first country to go 3G, but NTT Docomo made it so specific, that only japanese vendors (NEC and Fujitsu) would cope with the market adaptations.

In recent years, new entrants (eMobile and Softbank) are relying on overseas vendors and on international standards, so that they can benefit from global economies of scale and have better equipment costs than what NTT or KDDI get from Japanese vendors with almost no presence outside of Japan.