DoCoMo's Data Success Is Just 20% of Users
from the 20-is-as-20-does dept
NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode is consistently held up as the shining example of what mobile operators can do with data services, and DoCoMo has made a key part of its business licensing i-mode and its “lessons” to other operators around the world. It’s surprising, then to see DoCoMo CEO Masao Nakamura tell BusinessWeek that 80% of its users either don’t use data at all, or use it only for email. Nakamura says the biggest challenge for the operator is to grow data traffic, even if it’s just by 100 yen per user per month, but his ideas don’t seem too innovative: push information and video calls and streaming. Unsurprisingly, he says people aren’t taking to video calling, demonstrating once again consumers’ lack of interest in it. He also tries to play down the entrance of new competitors like Softbank, saying they’ll only compete on price, and that other factors are more important in the mobile market. That’s after opening the interview explaining how DoCoMo was forced to follow Vodafone and KDDI’s lead in offering flat-rate data pricing, and how it caused a drop in revenues and profits for the first time in DoCoMo’s history — so you’d think Nakamura-san would have a bit more respect for the power of price.
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Japanese consumers care more about silly bells and whistles like fortune telling, cute cartoons, or celebrities endorsing it on TV, than whether the phone works. During last year’s Korea Boom, when Japanese women developed a serious case of Jungle Fever for Korean men, a DoCoMo ad on TV had a famous Korean actor talking to a Japanese woman’s cell phone on the “Korea Friends” package, and she falls unconscious.
(Today, Korea Bashing is in, and a 500-page cartoon book detailing anti-Korean information will be published next week. Don’t be surprised if cell phones provide new services for anti-Korean snippets of the day.)