washlet online ad

washlet at inter-continental tokyo

Washlet is quite common in Japan, and accoding wikipedia jp, washlet type cleaning toilet has 60% penetration in all Japan households. Today I happened to find their online ad in popular weblog buzzmachine, where TOTO, the manufacturer of washlet, seems to penetrate into US. Their website communicates clearly the benefits of washlet and is well- organized. Mention about hemorrhoids, however, found only in the questionnaire section, which in my opinion is but the key message to be delivered. Maybe they have no evidence to support the effects on hemorrhoids. Many people around here believe so around here.

washlet online ad

Here’s washuretto community inside orkut.

Somewhat related article at boston.com: Japan High Tech “Washlets” aim at US bottoms.

design for eco

Every time my family buys one of those powder detergents, which is quite popular in Japan, it comes with built-in spoon, which helps gauge the amount of power you need for a given size of water. Producing another new spoon as they produce another unit of detergent is obviously not eco-friendly.

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Maybe those manufacturers (notably, Kao, Lion, P&G, Uniliver, among others) should learn from ice cream makers and exclude the spoon from the packaging.

ice cream

Update:

A few days ago I happened to find this 7-11 original detergent that come without gauge spoon, they claim it is eco conscious. I bought one obviously.

no spoon for eco, 7-11 original detergent

the reading (& watching & listening) list for music industry

In “How Napster changed the world,” Don Dodge notes “Pioneers are usually unsuccessful“. I think there is some truth in considering iTUNES and iPOD rather followers than pioneers. Reference: Apple’s strategy a familiar tune. Matthew Yi, SF chronicle, August 16, 2004

The concept: the whole entire music library FITS IN YOUR POCKET. Steve Jobs seems to intend to be a market leader when he knew there was no market leader.

Sales of Music, Long in decline, Plunge sharply, originally WSJ

Music in an abundance economy, the long tail , as well as “Give away the music, sell the show.”

The New Economics of Music: File Sharing and Double Moral Hazard / Umair Haque

digital music section, shark jumping

is music dead?

Looking beyond iPhones / David Kirkpatrick

Don Dodge makes an analogy between the habits of a mouse to that of the music industry .

David Kirkpatrick of Fortune notes in “How Viacom could really protect its content“:

Some people, in the end, did stop downloading free music, but it wasn’t because of the record company lawsuits, for the most part. It was because Apple created a convenient and affordable way to get music legally, called iTunes.

Mark Cuban says CD is dead.

EMI and Apple say no DRM for you. The step is being made almost 60 days after Steve Jobs post his thoughts on music.

Yahoo’s new media device, reported by Arrington, somewhat similar what Rojas, Winer, and, Calacanis talking about a few months ago.

how the word-of-mouth catches up

Obviously Softbank mobile X01 HT is backed up by mass advertising (I mean, indirectly), while mylo and fon not backed up by mass advertising. H01 curve is steep, others’ more slow and gradual in mixi community size comparison. But hey they all surely catch up.
comparison_mixi

UPDATE: According to technorati.jp, “X01HT” is ranked as 3rd popular word, indicating the phenomena. I am also glad to know technorati.jp now has favorite tab, which has only been avalable in technorati.com (English).

UPDATE: FON increased significantly from 132 to 429 after the launching campaign on Dec 5, accompanied by La fonera giveaway for 5 days, Fon Night event in metropolitan Tokyo. It was covered by major media such as CNET Japan, IT Media (Online), World Business Satellite (News program, on channel 12, Network TV), Newspapers (which I haven’t confirmed the detail though).

comparison20061209

Graph updates here at flickr.

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is the new way of launching?

Netscape by Jason Calacanis, the media coverage increases as it approaches to the launch time.

update: I haven’t used DIGG at least consciously in the past and so I have no idea if they are copying DIGG.  But it seems like fun.  Here is my profile: http://www.beta.netscape.com/member/kenjimori

The discussion goes on there: “AOL copies DIGG

BL Ochman provides an excellent analysis.

A VS’s Fred Wilson.

Even more inspiring by Jason himself.

New taste

What’s new in academic research is new because it is different from the past research in approach and methodology but NOT in taste. No matter how different a given thesis tastes from the past ones it is immediately rejected unless it is different technically from the past.

But if you’d come to real life, it is totally the opposite. We all thrive for the new taste. iPOD is new , in taste but not necessarily technically. Prince was new, not at all technically, but it tastes way too different from the rest of the crowds.

Ironically it is precisely this new taste that primarily advances our economy.

A proposal for MIXI

Since I started reading Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble (not yet finished, because I am very slow), I have been wondering how a blog can be used as a corporate communication tool, especially as a customer contact center. One of the difficulties with using a blog is, however, that any visitors can be anonymous and the comments can be irresponsible. Yet I’ve seen many corporations hesitate to use direct conversation tools such as BBS, as their way to directly communicate with their customers. Historically the corporations have, then, preferred the dialogue to be offline rather than online, which is often public. The inquiries have been handled by telephone and kept private. But now with the ever growing blogosphere, that will be less and less the case as we’ve observed such claims brought up in the blogosphere and got public and largely visible like in the case for Dell made by Jeff Jarvis last summer. That means the corporations will be more and more required to publicly talk with customers online or the dialogue gets public even/especially when they don’t want to. If that’s hard to accomplish overnight, then why not try the somewhat interim solution?

Then I thought of MIXI, Japan’s orkut, which I believe can be modified for that purpose. For, at MIXI the contents are open only inside MIXI (yet quite high in reach), all the participants become member via invitation and identified to some extent, and less worry about unidentified or irresponsible comments. Therefore, the corporations can be more aggressive and honest in talking with the customers, while maintaining quite a high reach. Note, as of this writing, its cumulative membership is 3,360,970 (including withdrawals), representing, in terms of subscription, about 33% of Japan’s largest newspaper, Yomiuri Shinbun (=10,082,425 copies). Inside MIXI, fan communities are abundant and run by, of course, volunteers: YouTube (2,596), COACH (fashion accessories, 5,074), Nintendo DS (6,388), SKYPE (10,564), to give you a few example, note: the number inside () is membership.

Suppose if MIXI were to offer the corporate services such that the corporations officially can have the direct contact point with its customers (blog-alike posts and comments, akin to the personal diary it currently offers for conventional users for free of charge), while making posts and communities searchable via its internal search engine. Then, at a premium, it might even offer the service pretty much like Google’s adwords or overture listing ad, with the search results highlighted at the top of the page inside MIXI.

I believe then it, in a way, answers the scale issue of the social networking ad that Jason Calcanis raised (via MIT Advertising Lab)

The problem with event-marketing is, of course, that it is very expensive (think $100-1,000 a person) and you can only reach a small number of people at a time (think 100-1,000 people). Compare that to a TV commercial, radio ad, or Internet ad where you can reach someone for pennies a person–and millions of people at a time. Clearly the future of social networking is making online event marketing scale.

 

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Update: Thanks Ben for pointing me at the interesting article.

Cell phone pricing in Japan

When it comes to buying the new cell phone model here in Japan, I always got frustrated at their pricing scheme something like:

  • 24,000yen($200) if you are changing from the existing model with the same number within the same carrier (e.g., docomo).
  • 12,000yen($100), or sometimes even 0yen, if you are applying for the new number.
     

The price differential exists: the loyal customers like me who have been with the same mobile carrier with the same number get the price more and those applying for the new number get less. This is ridiculous, since the cost of manufacturing and delivery of the equipment should be the same. Yet my guess is a large portion of loyal customers now tend to compromise on the premium only to keep the phone number same. This is how this price differential works now and that’s why I, for one among many, am waiting for the mobile number portability soon to be operationally effective in Japan.  

 

If/when the mobile number portability is introduced sometime this year as reported elsewhere (in Japanese or in English), it can possibly ignite the price war. Those who would have otherwise paid the premium might now have the option to switch to other carriers at promotional price without changing the phone number. I can imagine carriers would try to acquire the customers away from the competitor each other; at the same time, they will try to retain the existing customers at competitive offer.

As the result, the current price differential will disappear. The two different prices will converge to somewhere between zero and $240. While where it will converge is up to industry wise coordination, there is already a downward pressure now being further intensified by Softbank’s acquisition of Vodafone Japan.

Reference: International price comparison statistics (Japan=100) for cell phone rate and ADSL, the Japanese government published in November 17, 2005  (in Japanese):    

                              JP=100        US       UK     FR      DE
Cell Phone, 224 min         100         67     102     94        91

ADSL,always-on,3m,        100       116     168    162     116

Technorati Tags: mobile Japan Softbank Vodafone Number Portability