Sunday, June 1, 2014

Why don't we see Japanese brand cell phones here?

There are numerous instances where having the most technologically advanced product is not necessarily advisable. And if that product is also out of step with prevailing standards, more trouble may lay ahead.

There is the common wisdom assumption that “if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” But Japanese mobile phone manufacturers, so successful in many endeavors, have found that their formula doesn't always work, as pointed out in a 2009 article in The New York Times. Its observations remain true today.

Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, NEC-- all successful manufacturers of consumer products worldwide, have had very little success in mobile phones outside their home market

“ ‘Japan is years ahead in any innovation. But it hasn’t been able to get business out of it,’ said Gerhard Fasol, president of the Tokyo-based IT consulting firm, Eurotechnology Japan.

“Indeed, Japanese makers thought they had positioned themselves to dominate the age of digital data. But Japanese cell phone makers were a little too clever. The industry turned increasingly inward. In the 1990s, they set a standard for the second-generation network that was rejected everywhere else.

Someone has dubbed the plight of Japanese cell phone industry the Gal├ípagos syndrome. Why? Japan’s cell phones are like the endemic species that Darwin encountered on those isolated islands — fantastically evolved and divergent from their mainland cousins.

You might think the lack of global success by the big name players would suggest an opportunity for entrepreneurs to fill that role. I regularly point out to students that the elephants are often too far from the ground to see what is obvious to the ants. Why haven’t we seen advanced hardware designs for mobile phones achieve greater success outside Japan?