Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Mobile Monday

I attended the Mobile Monday event last night at the oh-so-trendy KDDI design studio in Harajuku. I was late, because of the aforementioned visit to the doctor, and got there for the second presentation, by the general manager for new media at Warner Music Japan, Andrew Dunbar, talking about chaku-uta full service that they were participating in with KDDI. It was good, though there were too many people, which meant it was standing-room only. It was also a Powerpoint, of which I see way too many every day, so I guess that aspect of it I was totally happy with. One of the interesting things he said was basically something like 'we really like this model better than i-tunes because Japanese consumers are willing to pay 250 yen per song, plus download cost to have a song on their phone that they can't play on any other device.' What's not to like about consumers behaving in a way seemingly so at odds with their own best interest, and so in-keeping with that of the record labels? He also alluded to music videos from Warner being available at some point soon on au, even though they have an exclusive deal with Vodafone right now, on the Vodafone BB service, which allows users to download videos from their PC, and then pay for them and play them on their mobile handsets.
The five-story studio has a performance and display space on the first floor, and then mobile phone displays on the second and third floors, a kind of art gallery on the fourth floor, and a cafe on the fifth floor. I went up to the second floor and tried out some of the handset that they had there. I wasn't that impressed, but was slightly surprised to find that one of their new Toshiba handsets has Bluetooth, which is unusual in Japan. On the third floor, I tried out a clunky brick of a phone made by Fujitsu and running some Microsoft variant. It was, the very nice and cute girl manning the display assured me, a new concept in mobile device, and currently being used at the Aichi World Expo. Not! It didn't even have a screen much bigger than one that I have on eithe of my phones.
On the way up to the fourth floor I met Sho Izaki, a vice president for biz dev with gracenote. When I first heard him say the name of his company, I heard "grey snot", owing much more to my poor hearing than his pronunciation. I thought it was a bit of an odd name, but hey! we were at the trendy place, avant garde, and grey snot was not totally out of the question...We talked a little bit about his business, and mine, drank a little wine. I met an engineer from Sony-Ericsson, and mentioned that my V802SE has been recalled today. I was, by the way, at this point in the cafe on the 5th floor. This was quite the trendy cafe, complete with funky interior, floor of weathered two by eights, tatooed bartender with an attitude, who looked at me like I was crazy to ask for mineral water, and sort of snottily pointed at the tap when I asked for water-like beverages, and too damn many people! Your usual party in Tokyo, in other words.
I bumped into Gerhard Fasol, a regular contributor, ahem, poster, to keitai-l. He was considerably less obnoxious than the last time I met him in person, at which time he was extremely dismissive and arrogant. He still can't work out how Vodafone could possibly have profits, and trying to explain it would not, I felt, be worth the efforts. He is convinced that it is becuase of deferred tax credits or other such gimmicks. It is not use explaining that getting new customers actually costs money, because of additional required capacity, subsidies on handsets, etc. Since Vodafone K.K. are not gaining customers, those costs are reduced. Actually, I should send him the tool that we used in the simulation game, he might like that!
I also saw Steve Meyers, president of Theta Music. I don't know the whole story, and if they have totally separated from Linc Media, but it loks like they are in the same offices as the last time I spoke with Steve, some time in 2002. He looked older and tireder, but don't we all? Apparently the main thing they are focusing on is selling or porting Japanese content overseas. Terry Lloyd, the founder of a bunch of companies, including Linc Media, J@pan Inc., and others, had thought of that a few years ago, but it didn't really take off at the time.
Tracey Northcott, of Enfour was also there with her brother Richard, also of Enfour. They are working on some cool apps for series 60 handsets, of which the Nokia V702NM is the only one currently being sold in Japan. I hope that they have good luck in selling those apps. Right now, Vodafone is only selling two native Symbian apps, one the Access Netfront browser, and the other some custom 'skins.' She introduced me to Lisa Gotlieb of Walt Disney Internet Group.
By this time, my big toe was hurting again, and I needed to leave. To tell the truth, these kinds of networking events I find slightly uncomfortable and exhausting: Too many people, too many people that I don't know (that is the point, I guess!), and too many things to remember not to do. (slobber, topple my wine down someone's shirt, spill the beans on any of our corporate secrets, etc.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sho Izaki is a low life, not to be trusted. Hearing 'gray snot' instead of 'grace note' was a good thing:-)

6:27 AM  
Blogger Llama said...

Hmmm...seemed like a nice enough bloke, but then I am probably not the best judge of character: You should meet my wife!

5:17 PM  

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