LETTERS - Letter to the Editor
BUT WILL IT PLAY IN PEORIA?
JOE ASHBROOK NICKELL AND MICHELE
Yamada's article on i-mode ["Exporting Japan's Revolution," Feb. 5] did an outstanding job of outlining i-mode's success in Japan and its prospects for expansion in the United States.
Electronic commerce has grown up in a world where environmental variables -- such as online demographics, competing technologies and the cost of capital -- change rapidly and are highly diverse from one market to the next.
Within the Japanese context, i-mode delivers important value at a very reasonable price, requiring little from the user. In the American context, however, it seems that the service will demand more from the consumer and offer less.
Associate Professor of Marketing
Georgia State University
WHILE THE I-MODE ARTICLE WAS ON balance interesting and well-written, it contained some confusing and inaccurate statements, which fuel the mistaken conventional wisdom that i-mode won't export well from Japan.
The article claims that 50 percent of i-mode usage time is spent perusing entertainment content. According to DoCoMo's own data, 45 percent of the time users spend with their i-mode is to send or receive e-mail. On Jan. 31, Nikkei News reported that the average i-mode user sends 11 e-mails a day. In fact, e-mail is the No. 1 use of i-mode, beyond voice and Web and third-party services, underscoring i-mode's primary function as a communications device, not an entertainment gadget.
I also disagree with the authors' assertion that Japanese cultural factors are a primary reason for i-mode's popularity. When I show my American friends my latest i-mode, the N502it, the overwhelming response is, "When will I be able to get one of those?"
I think i-mode has enjoyed its popularity in Japan because it is a killer product, not because Japanese people are somehow put together differently than us, and I predict similar success in the United States when it is launched here. Sure, we have a better desktop infrastructure in the States. But i-mode is a wireless, data-enabled phone with a big, bright color screen, and the whole thing snaps shut to slip easily into your shirt pocket, smaller than a cigarette pack. Many popular electronic devices born in Japan foretold U.S. trends such as the Walkman, the Gameboy and PlayStation2.
A wireless tsunami is brewing in Japan, and I for one am excited to be part of it.
Founding Partner, FunMail Japan
LEANER IS BETTER
I JUST WANT TO PUT IN MY TWO CENTS' worth here about all of the layoffs going on. To be blunt, are layoffs bad?
That's what this whole retuning of the economic structure is about: making each and every business more cost-effective, leaner and easier to run by fewer and fewer people until all you need are a couple of folks with their fully developed and functioning Web site and a keyboard in front of them.
Case in point: I own and operate a TV station. When I started in the broadcast industry over 20 years ago at a CBS affiliate, it took 60 of us to sell ad time, traffic commercials, produce news and other programming, engineer and maintain the equipment and so forth. Now it takes one or two people to do all of it. I feel bad for all those who are getting their pink slips, but let's face it: If they have a good idea and are competitive, they have the Internet available for worldwide distribution.
"YAHOO, UNDER REPAIR" [FEB. 12] should have noted that Yahoo enabled $3 billion in transactions, rather than transaction fees, during the first three quarters of 2000.
IN "PINK-SLIP PANIC" [FEB. 5] WE STATED that Maytag recently laid off 6,000 workers. In fact, Whirlpool laid off 6,000. Maytag has put 100 workers on temporary layoff, but has announced no workforce reductions.
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