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Top Japanese cell phone innovator praises iPhone

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Cell phone networks in Japan beat the US hands-down. Voice quality is crystal-clear, here in the US I could get better reception with two tin cans and some string. Under a bridge.

“They have to take a risk,” said Natsuno. “To do that, clear direction, clear vision, clear leadership are necessary.”

Yes but if they take a risk and make something different and no one buys it, they're dead in the water. No one is willing to do that. Why change when the same thing over and over again makes ¥¥¥?

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Why change when the same thing over and over again makes ¥¥¥?

Because then you have Sony, et al and no one will want to continue giving the ¥¥¥. It's long term thinking not short term.

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Sony's new problem is quality. Specifically the lack thereof.

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I still prefer my DoCoMo and AU phones.

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Takeshi Natsuno, who developed Japan’s first Internet-linking cell phone service “i-mode” in 1999, when such systems were still ground-breaking.

It was however a British company (Lxxxxx) that did the management, programming, infrastructure and actually got the damned thing working.

In Japan, the bottom line has become SO important that corporations milk product lines for as long as they can, effectively stifling innovation - because a new product would prevent them milking the old product line to death. Ya jus' gotta maximize that profit.

One of my friends - A Japanese researcher, was researching 5G - Signal tunneling. He became so disillusioned with DoCoMo (He agreed when I said YRP stands for "Yokosuka Research Prison") that he disappeared off to a research at a university in Finland - where he's appreciated!

This country has plenty of innovators, they're just not allowed to express themselves.

...which he said was dominated by stodgy conservatives, who lacked the charisma and creative sensibilities of a Steve Jobs,

... I rest my case...

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The iPhone is cool. But without eWallet features I think it's doomed in Japan. They need to ramp up a special J-Model by 2Q 2009.

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...before rivals, including Nokia Corp. of Finland and South Korean Samsung Electronics Co., dominate

But Nokia Samsung and other non-Japanese makers DO dominate the global market already.

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What would prevent Apple from including e-wallet functionality in the i-Phone for Japan (and Korea, for that matter)? It's a matter of a single chip and some software, really. I understand that their product development and design is driven by the U.S. market, where there is basically NO current market for electronic payment functions, but considering that for the first time in Japanese mobile services we have a phone the design and functioning of which is determined by the manufacturer, not the carrier, this would seem to be something worth doing from Apple's point of view.

Or is the phone itself already crammed with so many 'innards' that there's truly physically no way to accomodate a Felica chip?

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...before rivals, including Nokia Corp. of Finland and South Korean Samsung Electronics Co., dominate

I don't know about the market in the States, but during a recent visit to Europe I saw lots of Nokias, Samsungs and Sony Ericsons, not one Toshiba, Sharp, or Kyocera.

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While i was recently in the UK, most phones were Nokia, LG, Samsung or Motorola.

I saw a couple of Sonyericcson`s in stores, but that was about it.

Japanese phones don`t seem to sell well outside Japan.

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"This kind of device cannot be produced by Japanese manufacturers. Never." Actually, not so. It could easily be manufactured by Japanese makers. Trouble is that it has niche-market appeal. Just because you can make something, doesn't mean people will buy it. The success of other models to date is not by chance. Hard marketing research was done, and it paid off handsomely.

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I was in Thailand over O-bon and I strolled through tons of cell phone stores... Tons of Nokias, LGs, Samsungs, SonyEricssons, Motorolas and i-mobiles. No Japanese manufacturers. The J-boys need to get off the stick.

It is similar in HK also.

And another plus - Most of these phones allow you play MP3's as your ringtone or allow you to play music through the built-in speaker or headphones. No additional software required.

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ya, well I love my 923SH and it does a lot more than an iPhone http://mb.softbank.jp/mb/en/product/3g/923sh/index.html

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back when ketais first came out Jpn kept the world at large the HELL OUTTA Jpn, remember Motorola in the early 90s..........fast fwd Jpn created their own systems DIFFERENT from the rest of the world, locked the outsiders outside so the locals cud reap the spoils here..............

fast fwd again & now that strategy has made Jpn the very odd man out, the world is pounding on Jpns door & this time Jpn cant say no & Jpns answer for the rest of the world.......... they dont have one, as others have said Jpn`s makers are virtually non-existant outside Jpn

Natsuno-san is right Jpn has dug itself a deep whole in the ketai world, its days are numbered (YES!) unless it reinvents itself

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"...this nation’s phone industry, which he said was dominated by stodgy conservatives, who lacked the charisma and creative sensibilities of a Steve Jobs."

Erm... Almost every company in this country is run by such people without vision, or with vision but CANNOT follow it, or are NOT ALLOWED to follow it. Sometimes I wish I could have lived in Japan in the 60's and 70's when music was full of originality, movies full of class and originality, and Japanese people fighting the government with strikes etc.

The man is right, Japan today lacks the desire or BALLS to just go for it, like they did back in the 60's and 70's.

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