Good post, despite the surreal mind warp.
I would like to address two of your points:
1. Providing subsidies is an economic behaviour. I agree with you, but think
it is slightly more complex:
To a greater extent than Europe or the U.S., the Japanese press keep score
about who is winning in the mobile market. Every month when the TCA releases
it's figures, they figure quite prominently in the newspapers and even on
television. The numbers, though are all about market share and net adds. Add
this further to the fact that most stories are accompanied by headlines such
as 'au surges ahead in mobile race,' 'DoCoMo languishes as competitors
release new handsets,' and all too often, 'Vodafone records only marginal
growth.' So, market share, and subscriber growth, while not impacting the
bottom line positively for at least a year, is used to keep score. Sure,
market share and subscriber growth do have a medium-term impact on revenues,
meaning that subsidising phones is, as you say, clearly an economic
behaviour. But the motivation for doing it is not purely economic: As any of
you more competitive souls know, as soon as someone starts keeping score,
being the top scorer becomes very important. This proclivity to go after
market share seems somewhat stronger in Japan than in other markets.
2. Most of the phones you would like come from outside of Japan. Fair
enough. But the average consumer in the UK, where I am now living, don't go
for the same business-oriented phones that you are always on the lookout
for. MP3 players, downloadable games, high-quality cameras, satellite
navigation, and these type of features are most prominent on their wish
lists. Japanese phones are generally (save the sat nav) chock full of these
types of features. It would be really nice if Vodafone and DoCoMo would tell
customers the network information needed to be able to use their own
non-Japanese or unlocked phones on the networks. Unfortunately, there is a
law that says that all mobile devices must be tested and certified by the
watchamacalit, whatever the Posts and Telecommunications ministry are now
calling themselves, before they can be used on Japanese networks, and that
it is the responsibility of the carrier to enforce that only registered
devices are used. The one exception is people who bring a device from abroad
and are roaming, not local customers. I personally believe that there are
lots of people in DoCoMo and Vodafone that would be happy to let customers
bring their own phones, but unfortunately the Japanese government holds
carriers responsible for the devices that are used on their networks, and
there are lots of foreign handset makers that haven't had their products
certified. While not the whole story, that is at least part of the reason
that neither DoCoMo or Vodafone are willing to let users have the
information they would need to configure the internet connection or the
i-mode or Vodafone Live! portal on their device. Sure, there are other ways
to do it, but it is a low-cost way to discourage users from bringing devices
to the network that they don't know about.
On 9/17/06, Nick May <nick_at_kyushu.com> wrote:
> On 17 Sep 2006, at 19:25, Oliver Wittchow wrote:
> > Why not offer unlocked phones for foreigners,
> While I am basically sympathetic to the point you are making (and
> appreciate you may have been using the word "foreigners" loosely, to
> refer to people on tourist visas perhaps) selling certain handsets
> ONLY to "foreigners" broadly defined - and presumably restricting
> their use of other handsets - is not the solution. It is not a
> rational or reasonable form of discrimination. (And yes, there is
> such a thing I think.)
> Requiring their visa extends the length of the contract is reasonable
> only if short term contracts are offered.
> Otherwise it is just discrimination against a particular social group.
> Nik wrote:
> > Hacking phone is basically an economic behaviour: The motive and
> > opportunity
> > are both motivated economically. The motive is to be able to save
> > money by
> > using other carriers for certain services (roaming is a big one),
> > and the
> > opportunity is one that includes an economic evaluation of the
> > potential
> > rewards for doing it versus the penalties.
> But this also is true and although obvious (and based on Nik's post),
> is worth spelling out in the terms above...
> Providing subsidies is basically an economic behaviour: the motive
> for the carriers
> is to be able to increase customer numbers and ultimately profits.
> The behaviour is one that includes an economic evaluation of the
> economic rewards for doing it versus the penalties, and an evaluation
> of the economic penalties
> of NOT doing it, such as a loss of market share.
> Essentially the carriers have a particular business model - and are
> objecting because their more enterprising customers don't behave "as
> To which the only real answer is - "Tough. Change the model. Sell
> unlocked phones as an option.".
> I find this whole thread slightly surreal as the phones I am most
> interested in ARE available abroad and are NOT available in Japan.
> The JP market is only "advanced" in certain areas - when it comes to
> "business" handsets it is decidedly primitive.
> This mail was sent to address nfrengle_at_gmail.com
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Received on Sun Sep 17 16:55:38 2006