Navigation
21Vianet 2600Hz 3Com 3Leaf 4G 4G licensing 5G Africa Alcatel Shanghai Bell Alcatel-Lucent Alibaba Android antiitrust Apple APT Satellite Arete AT&T auction backbone Baidu Bain bandwidth base station Battery broadband cable CBN CCP censorship Cfius China China brands China FTTH China hi-tech China market China media China Mobile China Mobile Hong Kong China Science China Telecom China Unicom chips Ciena Cisco civil society CNNIC Communist Party convergence copyright CSL cybersecurity Datang drones Egypt Elop Ericsson EU Facebook FDD LTE FDD-LTE feature phones Fiberhome FLAG forecasts Foxconn FTZ Galaxy S3 Google GSMA GTI handset handsets Hisilicon HKBN HKIX HKT HKTV Hong Kong HTC Huawei Hugh Bradlow Hutchison India Infinera Innovation Intel internet investment iOS iPad iPad 2 iPhone IPv6 ITU Japan KDDI KT labour shortage Leadcore low-cost smartphone LTE MAC MAE Mandiant market access Mediatek Meego Miao Wei Microsoft MIIT mobile broadband mobile cloud mobile data mobile security mobile spam mobile TV mobile web Motorola music MVNO MWC national security NDRC New Postcom Nokia Nokia Siemens Nortel NSA NTT DoCoMo OTT Pacnet Panasonic patents PCCW piracy PLA politics Potevio price war private investment Project Loon Qualcomm quantum Reach regulation Reliance Communications Ren Zhengfei Renesys RIM roaming Samsung sanctions Scania Schindler security shanzhai Sharp SKT Skype smartphones Snowden software Sony Ericsson spectrum Spreadtrum startups subsea cables subsidies supply chain Symbian tablets Tata Communications TCL TD LTE TD-LTE TD-SCDMA Telstra Twitter urban environment USA US-China vendor financing Vitargent Vodafone New Zealand WAC WCIT Web 2.0 web freedom WeChat WhatsApp Wi-Fi Wikileaks Wimax Windows Mobile WIPO WTO Xi Guohua Xiaolingtong Xinjiang Xoom Youku YTL ZTE

Entries in Japan (1)

Thursday
Mar032011

Android to the rescue

If you’re under 20 years old and not Japanese you might be surprised that Japan actually makes mobile phones.

Today only Sony Ericsson, half-owned by the Japanese electronics firm, sells phones in any volume outside the Japan market.

The disappearance of Japanese handset firms from the global stage is a business study on “how not to succeed” (and probably says a lot about the country’s wider economic retreat).

One reason has been the industry’s inability to refresh itself. Whereas western handset brands like Nortel, Alcatel and Siemens have disappeared or were sold off, only in the last 18 months have the Japanese players consolidated.

The other is because they decided to focus on the local market, building handsets to specs set by domestic operators - NTT DoCoMo in particular – perhaps in the belief that the rest of the world would follow.

In any case, the days of the narrow focus are over. Japanese handset guys are putting their faith in Android, the broadest church of them all.

Sharp, NEC, Kyocera and Sony Ericsson are all betting big on Android, the NT Times reports, noting that one of the shocks was the smash success of the iPhone, gaining 70% market share in a territory where foreign brands find it tough to get traction.

So Sharp is doing things it’s never done before, like opening up its lab and working with developers, and trying to focus on customers, not operators.

The combination of Android and Japanese hardware smarts is a natural one and, who knows, might propel one of the Japanese firms into the handset top ranks again.

But Gerhard Fasol, chief executive of Tokyo consultancy Eurotechnology, reminds that the Japanese firms are merely “soldiers in the Google army, with Google as king.”

Which also reminds that the Japanese firms are also missed recruiting targets for Nokia-Microsoft, who are well short of an army.