Japanese Phones

Martin Sauter writes about interesting features available on Japanese FOMA phones. Among them:

Camera with stabilization: The built in 4 mega pixel camera has an auto focus, digital (only) zoom, and a stabilization/anti shake feature.

Lock phone: In case your phone gets stolen you can lock the phone from a payphone or any other phone. This is done by calling the phone a certain number of times within a certain time frame. I wonder why I haven’t seen this one before, it’s so simple to implement. Does NEC hold a patent on this one and it’s unaffordable to license it?

Bar Code Reader: A hot topic in the blogsphere. It looks like in Japan this is already used very much in everyday life. Bar codes (one and two dimensional) are scanned with the camera and can contain contact addresses and phone numbers to be put into the phone book, eMail addresses and URLs that can be bookmarked or used to go directly to a page.

Yahoo and Yellow Pages

John Battelle writes:

Yahoo has moved the needle again, adding Local Featured Listings, a way for merchants to buy placement on results pages – it’s bascially sponsored links, but with a twist. I spoke to Paul Levine, who runs Yahoo Local, and he told me that there has been a lot of demand from local merchants to be “at the top of the page” for a given result. Now, for between $20 and $300 a month, they can be.

This reminds me very much of the YP model of paying more or less for size of ad on the page, (they also pay more or less for the headers – ie and ad in Flowers is more expensive than an ad in Scuba Equipment).

Folks are already signing up (see this search for Bike Shop Boulder), and I see this as potentially a significant new revenue stream for Yahoo Local.

Intel’s Problems

WSJ writes:

One problem is PC demand. The market has seen unit growth for the past three years at percentages in “the low double digits,” said Mr. Otellini, but this year Intel is projecting slower percentage growth in the “high single digits,” which is less than some market-research firms expect.

But Intel faces another problem. When it last went through a period of soul-searching two decades ago, it was prompted by years of damage from Japanese competitors, which forced the company out of its original business in memory chips. This time, Intel is wrestling with only one competitor of significance: AMD, based just a few miles from Intel headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.

Mobile Content Subscriptions

Televisionpoint writes:

To streamline revenues and plan better content rollout, mobile content providers and operators are planning to offer high-end content like chat, games and comics on a subscription basis. Operators such as Hutch and Reliance Infocomm are understood to be working on rolling out subscription-based premium content in the next few weeks.

“Subscription-based services have become the need of the hour. While it provides customers the option to subscribe for any piece of content on a monthly basis for a certain amount, it helps the operators and content providers to plan their revenues and roll out their content better without hoping for the consumers to download,” says Rajiv Hiranandani, Country Head, Mobile2Win (M2W).

“Secondly, subscription-based value-added services (VAS) also works, as it is easy and streamlined instead of downloading every month,” he adds.

New Models

Ross Mayfield blogs a talk given by Tim O’Reilly:

The PC is no longer the only access device for internet applciations, and applications that are limited to a single devcice are less valuable than those that are connected. We have a lot to learn from iTunes, a three tier app from handheld to cloud to pc as control station. (personally, I think iTunes could learn a little from the Cornucopia).

Data is the next “Intel inside” where applications are increasingly data-driven. Therefore, owning a unique, hard to recreate, data set gives you leverage. Navteq as the data inside for Mapping, Digital Globe for satellite data, Gracenote for music applications, NSI for the registry monopoly (a lock point for value, despite Esther’s efforts with ICANN). 1 Billion songs in a proprietary file format.

A platform beats an application.

TECH TALK: Blue Ocean Strategy: Cirque du Soleils Reinvention

Another example quoted in the book is the transformation of Cirque du Soleil. An excerpt from the book in Fast Company:

A one time accordion player, stilt-walker and fire-eater, Guy Laliberte is now CEO of one of Canada’s largest cultural exports, Cirque du Soleil. Created in 1984 by a group of street performers, Cirque’s productions have been seen by almost 40 million people in 90 cities around the world. In less than 20 years Cirque du Soleil has achieved a revenue level that took Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus – the global champion of the circus industry – more than one hundred years to attain.

What makes this all the more remarkable is that this rapid growth was not achieved in an attractive industry. It was in a declining industry in which traditional strategic analysis pointed to limited potential for growth. Supplier power on the part of star performers was strong. So was buyer power From the perspective of competition-based strategy, then, the circus industry appeared unattractive.

Another compelling aspect of Cirque du Soleil’s success is that it did not win by taking customers from the already shrinking demand for the circus industry, which historically catered to children. Cirque du Soleil did not compete with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus to make this happen. Instead it created uncontested new market space that made the competition irrelevant. It appealed to a whole new group of customers – adults and corporate clients prepared to pay a price that is several times as expensive as traditional circuses for their unprecedented entertainment experience. Significantly, one of the first Cirque productions was titled “We Reinvent the Circus”.

Cirque du Soleil succeeded because it realized that to win in the future, companies must stop competing with each other. The only way to beat the competition is to stop trying to beat the competition.

In a brief article in Fast Company, Renee Mauborgne, the co-author of Blue Ocean Strategy, says companies can do what Cirque du Soleil did by following certain guidelines.

Water, water, everywhere
You don’t have to compete in a red ocean of bloody competition. Even exhausted industries — like the circus — can be reinvented.

Don’t swim with the school
Quit benchmarking the competition or setting your strategic agenda in the context of theirs.

Find new ponds to fish
Don’t assume your current customers have the insights you need to rethink your strategy. Look to noncustomers instead.

Cut bait on costs
Put as much emphasis on what you can eliminate as on what you can create.

Tomorrow: Dos and Donts

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