Digital Kids: So Powerful That They Cause Network Down

Mac de DS

At 85% of Mcdonald’s Japan’s entire shop chains, “Mac de DS”, allowing Nintendo DS users to download software via in-store Wi-Fi for free, launched on June 19th. But it’s not been working so well.

Last Saturday when I visited Roppongi store of McD’s that the company has used for demonstration of the service, I saw an announcement paper telling the service is temporarilly not available.

And on Sunday, actually I visited Higashi-murayama store to chat with a friend of mine, but again I witnessed a paper as follows.


When it seems recovered, the store’s master came down to a child who is willing to use the service and appologized him for his inconvenience caused, because the guest service is McD’s first priority.

Softbank Mobile provides data carrier at McD’s stores for the “Mac de DS” service, and NTT-BP does it on Tsukuba Express trains. However, the presentators at a press briefing for this new service were McDonald’s and Nintendo, and two of data carriers of Softbank and NTT-BP are so quiet and inconspicuous.

Now that a number of mobile broadband service is likely to start here in Japan, and I think not businessmen but children may be main users who consume high wireless data traffic.

I just posted a story about the news for Asiajin, which is titled “McDonald’s And Nintendo Team Up To Call In More Minors”. Only several days passed since the new service launch, McD’s and Nintendo must be satisfied with the current situtation that stores are crowded with many DS minor users.

On the contrary, data carrier companies are perhaps confused with it.

Celebrate My Friend’s Company Was Purchased By NTT

We can find the financial term “taken over” in Japanese dictionary, but nor for its opposite meaning.

As for M&A meaning merge & acquisition, “merge” has feeling of neutral and the third-party view in it, and “acquisition” has a buyer’s perspective.

I think it is strange that both sides should be treated in equal but it is always mentioned with the buyer’s view.

A friend of mine, whom I used to get along with,  Takeshi Izuka founded a company called “Digital Forest” ten years ago, and it was recently taken over by NTT Communications.

Usually bid price is not disclosed for private purchase, but the company made it in public and we learned it was JPY2.4B.

Digital Forest Website Screenshot


For a company which raised fund money from VC companies, IPO and MPO used to be typical way to exit to the market.   But in these days when market condition is truly bad, their way will be getting more natural.    We have a number of examples that a venture takes over another venture in Japan, on the other hand, NTT-like traditional companies used to take over no start-up company.

The following picture is Mt. Fuji seen from Yamanaka Lake where I visited last weekend.   It was sunny sky but zero degree Celsius and snowing powderly in the morning.

Mt. Fuji from Yamanaka Lakeside

Singapore’s TV News Channel Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary

My first trip abroad in my life was that to Singapore.

That country is one of my favorites, while we may be sentenced to flogging if something illegal involved there.

Changi Airport has Koi Ponds in the premise, and for those who frustrate waste of time for transit at the airport, they have a free invitation tour to Singapore Zoo, which are absolutely different from the facilities and the menus prepared at LAX where I missed my flight last week.

# At LAX, all the lockers and baggage storages have been removed since “Sep 11”,
# and few restaurants are located in any buildings other than Tom Bradley Terminal.

In order to defeat BBC and CNN, Singapore has founded Asia’s first ever English news TV station named Channel News Asia, and the station cerebrated its 10th anniversary on March 1st.

Actually they’re celebrating it but only broadcast the videos on which the world’s business leaders congratulate it, that is also different from the fact that most Japanese TV stations also celebrate their 50 years old by increasing variety show programming broadcast.

I launched an application called TVU Player In the iPhone, and I watched Channel News Asia with the application while doing my job at a coffee shop in Roppongi. Then the station started airing Japanese popular travel program introducing hot spring resorts locating nationwide.


This was produced by TV Tokyo, and Channel News Asia adds English subtitles on it and broadcasts in the sponsorship by Sumitomo Corporation, ANA and NEC. The programming is named “Japan Hour”.

As being endorsed by Japanese foreign ministry, the state-running broadcaster NHK finally started its English worldwide programming last month, but I think the travel program on Channel News Asia would be more effective for making results of the government’s running “Visit Japan Campaign”.

Moreover, without being asked by Channel News Asia, TVU Player is streaming the programs on the Internet.

Nowadays, we need no parabola antenna to watch oversea TV programming.

I don’t know how much NHK pays for renting satellite transponders, but if they could stand on the position as one of contents providers like Kadokawa, they should approve of the content reproductions on the Internet.

Fotolia Starts Video Marketplace in addition to That for Still Images

I’m getting very interested in the market of photo-sharing and video sharing sites because I’m building the site of my own by myself due to some reasons. Some sites are aimed at distributing the contents licensed under the Creative Commons rules, and the others are for matching buyers and sellers for the pictures you’ve taken.

There’s the world’s larget photo marketplace site (I’m not sure it is actually “largest” because I have no statistical evidence) called Fotolia. Fotolia’s Japanese Manager Ms. Sumiya told me it would start today video service as well photo service.

Logo of Fotolia

The service allows to upload video of 60-seconds-long and 30-frames-per-second at the maximum, that means uploaded videos may have the quality enough to be republished even on TV.

If we setup an SNS on global basis, we need localize it to avoid language barriers, and need arrange it to local tastes because of regional characterestics. However, photos and videos are universally acceptable for all the people around the globe without pre-arrangement, that’s why it would be easiter to make it on the world market.

I heard some amateur photographers make their livings only by selling their works on Fotolia.

I can have the following ideas.

– Students studying at training schools to be possible professional photographers can sell their works on Fotolia, which can make money and collect audiences’ view at the same time.

– TV stations and program production companies can sell unused video clips, which were originally taken for other purposes. (For tv broadcasters whose revenues are being reduced due to downturn in the ad industry as well, this business scheme can turn someone’s trash into another man’s treasure, which makes money for the broadcasters.)

If Fotolia can deploy the additional feature of automatic tagging posted videos with Videosurf‘s technology, I believe it should be getting more and more convenient. (I explained here about Videosurf. Sorry it’s written in Japanese.)

Founder’s DNA or Company’s DNA making Innovations

There’s Steve Jobs’ condition making a headline of TV news and Internet portals in these days.    Apple announced that he would devote himself to curing for six months from now on, which means he seems so badly ill.

Previously when I was working for a venture capital firm, some colleagues said unanimously,

“The founding parent of the company is not always the foster parent of that.”

That means, founders of start-up ventures are sometimes daring guys, they had better hand over to foster parents having profession which may have the ventures growing up more.   Generally speaking, I believe that idea is relatively acceptable for the investors who are mostly conservative.

But the real world is strange and interesting.   MBA holders (of course, meaning not “married but available” but Master of Business Administration) may bankrupt his/her company.  On the other hand, there are some companies led by the management who cannot understand B/S and P/L, but those keep growing up difinitely.   I cannot find which idea is correct.   Honestly.

When I take a look at Sony without its co-founder Mr. Ibuka and Mr. Morita, Panasonic which removed its founder’s surname “Matsushita” from its brand, and Honda withdrawing from F1 championship of the founder’s dream, I see all they take options apart from the founders’ ideas.

Managements from giant enterprises are asked at new year’s party of Keidanren or Japan Business federation, what the card to overcome the recession, and almost they answered “creating something innovative to overcome”.

In order to make innovation happen in the company, we need some sort of daring atmosphere there.   If no daring employee working in the company, do you think any innovation comes up there?

I don’t intend to criticize Japanese consumer goods manufacturers, and I apologize for your discomfort if you feel.   By the way, I’m interested in how Apple can keep innovating something like iPhone if Steve resign his current position.

Apple’s headquarter is located at 1 Infinite Loop.   And, Google’s buildings have the names like Pi and e=mc².   Needless to say it, these facts show you the similarity of the two companies.

And now, people are rumoring about Apple’s acquisition by Google, extremely sounds like a real story, but if it would so, what’s the most important is whether Apple can keep innovating.

In terms of profit-seeking as one of raison d’être of the company, it is very important to think how the company can keep its DNA, which encourages the employees to innovate something, after the company founder disappeared from the company.

P.S.   I heard that Toyota Motor would appoint to make Mr. Akio Toyoda as the next president of the company, who is a direct descendant of the company’s founder.   It reflects the company’s relief that Toyota wants to overcome such a bad economic downturn with the founder’s DNA.   Will he or his leading company can create something new after Prius?

Internet Invades TV Industry’s Business?

Terror attacked Mumbai, and two Bangkok airports were closed due to occupation by anti-government protesters.

Thailand is a heart-warming Buddhism country, even if whatever happens, the king can resolve whole things finally.   I’m concerned about the situation in India rather than that in Thailand.

CNN International has arranged a-week-long special coverage of Indian business this week, their correspondent Andrew Stevens would have live reports from Mumbai, but its programming and staffs has been entirely turned to those for terrorism reporting.

There are some influential media companies in India, one of them is “Network 18”, they’re operating a news channel “CNN-IBN” jointly with CNN.

Temporarily CNN-IBN’s TV feed is now available on “Live Station”, an Internet streaming service venture headqurtered in UK, even CNN international uses live pictures brought by Live Station, and also reporting the situation with satellite images provided by Google Earth and discussion with some bloggers living in Mumbai.

Even now here in Japan, there is a boundary between “broadcasting” and “telecommunication” in terms of legal perspective, but I think this week’s terror reporting by CNN is a case that Internet agressively invades TV business.

Streaming service provider “Live Station” does only re-transmit TV news feeds for Internet connection as far as I see, I’m very interested in how they make money from their business.

I found Om Mark from his tech blog “GigaOM” features an interview of Live Station’s CEO.

I watch CNN-IBN every night.   I’m getting used to listen to dialects in Indian English.

Just like big changes happening in science technologies when we face energy crisis,
every time war and terror-related big news is coming up, news medium change their forms and appearances.

It’s a cynical fact.

Glam Media Enters Japan, with Mr. Yamamura as CEO

Some news sources say Glam Media established its local subsidiary in Japan, and Mr. Yukihiro YAMAMURA, former president of Excite Japan, is going to be the new company’s head.

Glam Media is the world’s Glam now.  It’s time to enter Japanese market.

Around this season of last year, I visited the head office of Glam Media, because some people around me said it was an interesting company.

The head office is located in Sierra Point, a wonderful scenic suburb of San Francisco city, someday I hope to work at such a great place.  Its entrance was designed in Japanese style, which made me feel something related to the company’s market entry to Japan this time.

Then I saw Vice President of Glam Media, and asked him they were going to Japan or not, but I couldn’t write about it on any media due to my reasons.

Apparel companies, who mainly targeted to women at 20s and 30s are selling their products without real store, are running their businesses very well, according to those who know about this industry in Japan.

As popular e-commerce website examples, FashionWalker, a joint venture of Yahoo! Japan and Xavel Inc., and Samantha Thavasa’s subsidiary Stylife  are often called up.  It may fairly be said that e-commerce is lead by women.

Several months later from now, we’ll see frequently Glam Media’s ads on the streets in Shibuya.

I wonder if I go to watch “Sex and the City: the movie” to find out more about today’s trends, which premiers at theaters in Japan very soon.

Web2.0 and Cellphone Gadgets

Last April when I was at Web2.0 Expo, there were many round tables featuring various themes being held at some hotels near the exhibition’s main venue.   I was hopping some round tables, one of the most impressed was a meeting of government people, actually it was titled as “Government 2.0”.   Almost 10 people including the employees of GSA (U.S. General Service Administration) and a consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton were talking on the issue.

They said, at U.S. governmental offices, web browsing to the Internet are usually filtered by firewall or proxy installed, basically people working there cannot use Web 2.0 services.   They concluded “Goverment people cannot benefit the services brought by Web 2.0 trends, it may cause avoiding the modernization of working procedures, unlike private sectors.”

In Japan, filtering divices or features are widely deployed not only in govermental offices but also in private sectors.   For example, at a site of my company’s client I often work for, when I try to browse some tech news websites, it’ ok for Tech Crunch, Ars Technica and The Next Web, but not for Mashable.    Because the site description includes words like Web2.0 or Social?   Perhaps, it depends on the targeted site is on the list or not, which are maintained by filtering solution vendors such as WebSense, I know.

The environment that strict filtering features deployed can be called as a certain type of “Isolated Place from Information”.   It can be compared to prison where any information outside is shutted off.

At the previous session of WBS 2.0 conference hosted by Mr. Ogawa, who is the president of Modiphi Inc., he mentioned “With iPhone 3G, it’s good for us to gain the free accessibility to websites even in the company’s office where strict filtering features deployed.”   It’s just a roundabout filtering features, which means the employees may violate the company’s security policies, but I’m sure Ogawa’s view is right.

Last night I dropped in a session of the group for studying the IT and Mobile Industry (official English name uknown), Mr. Kanda of CA Mobile Ltd. had a lecture, most part of what he said there is off-record, he explained mobile gadgets and widgets for cellphones are getting spread more from now on.

Compared to cellphone applications, gadgets/widgets require less approvals by cellphone operators, and less man-days cost to develop as well.   Plus, gadgets/widgets can receive information in push-based (in a strict expression, virtually push-based, because actually and technically it’s pull-based on background), which can be appeared on cellphone’s stand-by screen.

For ordinary types of cellphones (cellphone models other than iPhone), gadgets/widgets would be easily-accessible-windows to Web2.0 services originally designed for PC browsing.   “Isolated Place from Information”  mentioned above makes more needs of cellphone gadgets/widgets.

Anyway, in terms of usablity of browsing websites, I think there’s nothing better than iPhone so far.   But some people says it’s Android will have much better usability than iPhone, I’m looking forward to seeing Google Phone, whose earlist one is rumored to be released from HTC by the end of this year.


The following is a website capture of Japan’s patent agancy, which shows you NTT DoCoMo already registered a trademark of “iWidget”.   When they start it?

Where Netshare has gone?

I don’t have my physical strength enough to queue for iPhone 3G in front of a Softbank shop, I gave up to get it on the day when the sale started.   However, between appointments on weekdays, when I was walking in the shopping mall in Tokyo’s suburb, I found the shop having some inventories of the product, and I bought one there finally.

iPhone 3G – its appearance and user interface reminds me of Apple’s Newton and General Magic’s Magic cap.   (BTW, these relics of PDAs must be sleeping in my barn.)

There’s a iPhone app called Netshare developed, which enables your PC to connect to Internet via cellphone network with iPhone 3G, it’s getting available and unavailable repeatedly at the iPhone App Store.

Because cellphone operators are concerned that it might break their infrastructure or their business model if a high volume of data traffic flows at flat rate prepared for iPhone usage.

However, eMobile Ltd., an HSDPA operator in Japan, provides flat rate data service for PC users, and so far they face no problem on business model and infrastructure.

It can be considered that, eMobile is a 3G operator, and AT&T and Softbank carring default networks for iPhone 3G are, what are called 2G operators.  (Although they have 3G networks, their business models are still in 2G?)

I understand, the reason why flat rate is flat is, physical costs for constructing and maintaining networks are not always proportionate to the volume of data transfered.

In a long-term perspective, cellphone operators have to invest more for additional facilities, but even if Netshare is not to be available again, iPhone users like operators not to enact regulation controlling the data transmission on intelligent layer.

Moreover, I think Apple and cellphone operators have to establish a new sound business model, even if iPhone apps like Netshare come alive again.

Google StreetView Coming to Tokyo!

It looks like Google StreetView will start in U.K. with avoiding the privacy problems, its localized edition became available in Japan and Australia as well.

Last week Google Japan said “Nothing to say” about when the service starts.

Japanese Edition covers many streets and alleys in Tokyo, Osaka, Sendai and Sapporo.   But I’ve never seen their vehicle taking the pictures.

I wrote a lot about StreetView, I found it records changing of the town scene by taking the pictures periodically, like a certain historical encyclopedia of images, when I see the pictures of my neighbourhood.

StreetView with iPhone is a useful combination for those who have GPS devices but lose their ways very often.

The following is Google’s camera vehicle taking images, witnessed in the heart of Tokyo.