Vodafone has long held that its expansion around the world offers it a number of benefits over its smaller rivals, not the least of which is global sourcing. It made a big deal last fall when it announced the launch of its European 3G services, showing off half a dozen handsets it would sell both on its networks there, but also in Japan, including three models from Nokia and Motorola. The company hoped these attractive Western brands would help it win customers, but while their handsets may have been cutting-edge back home, they were decidedly down-market in Japan. When 2-megapixel cameraphones where the market standard there, one of the Motorolas featured a .3-megapixel camera, and apart from underwhelming features, the user interfaces hadn't been adapted to the Japanese market, either. Accordingly, foreign handsets were far outsold by those from Japanese vendors that cost 70 to 80 percent more and providing yet another example of foreign companies failing to adapt to local markets. In one case, Nokia wants local consumers to adapt to it -- instead of changing the icons it uses in the rest of the world for it's call and end buttons to something more familiar for Japanese users, it expects them to just get used to it. Plenty of companies have made following mature mobile markets like Japan and South Korea part of their business model. But they've got to realize competing in those markets means they've got to reverse their strategy by being on the cutting edge and adapting their products to the foreign market.
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