Why Japanese Phones Are Not Global?

Japanese are ahead of their times in the kind of phones and mobile services they launch and have been using 4G for sometime. They have the sleekest features ranging from internet browsing and e-wallets to pedometers! However, the Japanese phone makers Panasonic, NEC and are not globally popular, unlike LG and Samsung from Korea. One might only wonder, why so?

The Japanese phone industry is a good example of a few misguided assumptions that many global tech companies today commit…a few mentioned below:

1. The “market” is what I see – Making technical decisions based on a limited set of geographical/economic characteristics and worst yet, on limited market knowledge and thinking that “we build it, they’ll want it”. In this case, the Japanese market and their race to adding more and more advanced features on their phones.

2. Going it alone – Attempting to push the frontier while being a single piece in the ecosystem, whereas it is important to prioritize external dependencies and push the frontier an inch at a time , nudging other people along and building the entire ecosystem to support the advanced technology adoption. In this case, the advanced Japanese phone features being out of place in the 2/2.5G networks that many of the other countries continue to support. They will upgrade one day and the Japanese might have an upper edge, but isn’t there a time value to money?

3. Catering to “high end” with “high tech” – Not catering to the mass market with lower end offerings for fear of margin erosion, despite having the technological capability to do so – it requires a different approach to the market, one of understanding what it needs and aligning the technical features available accordingly. Again, in this case the Japanese phone makers could have defined a range of features on their phones that could well support lower end technology features and compete with the Korean, US and European phone makers.

The good news is that the players realize this and are working towards understanding the reasons of why they are not global favorites. You can read more about it here. Has anyone used the Japanese phones, what do you think?

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7 Responses to “Why Japanese Phones Are Not Global?”


  1. 1 Adoremypets / Rick August 8, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    The Japanese think Americans are too stupid to under stand all the high tech features.

    • 2 Sreeja Iyer August 8, 2009 at 7:40 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Thinking your customers are stupid is another mistakes high-tech companies make and that is leaving money on the table…in this case for LG, Samsung

  2. 3 Vibhor August 10, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Well – I must admit – your choice of topics is right up there, though the arguments might not. NYTimes published this article recently, though the reasons they highlighted are quite different from yours. I think I would agree to their argument of japanese fones being high-end in terms of hardware, but pretty basic in terms of s/w. For example – iPhone 🙂 Don’t think you would want me write anything about it – lest this comment section becomes larger than your blog 😛

    The link to the NYTimes article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/20/technology/20cell.html

  3. 5 Vibhor August 11, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    F*ck !! Can’t believe the jap fones have all that. Now who in the world wants a finger print recocginition, earthquake alert, tv vewiing facility in a mobile fone !! For christ sake, its a mobile fone – designed so that you can communicate – you don’t need to spend your entire day and life around it.
    So it definitely adds to what we both said … they’re so focussed on getting more on it, in terms of h/w, they’ve completely forgotten there’s a thing called s/w 🙂

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