As fast as the seasons change is how fast Japan changes mobile phone models. Not necessarily following the actual pace of the seasons, but to be required to create a new unit in such an unbelievable span would be an accurate description. Such is the fate of Sony and other mobile phone manufacturers in Japan. “It’s time for a new model,” declared NTT Docomo representative Mai Kariya.
Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile network carrier, began releasing Sony’s flagship Xperia Z smartphone in the market back in February with sales close to 1 million units. However, the cell phone company announced that the model will soon no longer be available. It’s still in the market, but only while supplies last. Although Sony wants to keep selling their Xperia Z, which is not yet even available in the United States, Japan’s leading mobile phone manufacturer could only succumb to the demands of Docomo. According to T-Mobile, a carrier that sells Sony’s phones in the U.S., the Xperia Z will be available in the market in the coming weeks. That is the case in the U.S. while another is going on inside Japan, Sony’s home.
Sony’s distributor is now all eyes to the Xperia A, said to have fewer features compared to its predecessor. “We’re finished with the Xperia Z and now focusing on the Xperia A,” Kariya said. With a 5” full HD Reality Display, Sony claims the Xperia Z to be “water-resistant up to 1 metre” and “dust resistant.” If Sony invites consumers to “experience the best Sony in a smartphone,” then what shall be expected from Xperia A then? Maybe only Chuckie could tell it best. Perhaps the Xperia A will be the “bestest Sony in a smartphone.” But Sony’s Japanese website describes Xperia A “Your best choice.” Hopefully.
Japan’s mobile phone fad can be likened to fashion collection. There was a 2012 winter collection, which featured the Xperia AX. It was succeeded by the Xperia Z as part of Docomo’s 2013 spring collection, which has ten other phones. And just last month, the barely 4-month old sleek Xperia Z was replaced by the Xperia A.
The mobile phone market demand in Japan is so fast-paced that manufacturers, not just Sony, are close to exhaustion. Compared to foreign manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, both taking their time before releasing a new model, Japanese manufactures have to keep updating and redesigning mobile phones to make sure new models appeal to the public, and keep the carriers happy. Time and resources put into research for a new and better model keeps manufacturers on their toes. With such demand from distributors, analysts say Japanese phone makers have failed to develop a product strategy that is globally efficient.
Although doing pretty well in the Japanese market, the same cannot be said for foreign markets. “The Japanese market became somewhat like the Galapagos Islands. It had great biodiversity, but was so weak to outside species,” said Kenji E. Kushida from Stanford. Perhaps those species also get lost with Japan’s pace. “The Japanese market operates on a far quicker life-cycle than markets overseas,” Sony spokesman Yu Tominaga admitted. Despite the unthinkable demands, Sony claims to be up for the challenge. “Demand changes fast here, but we are set up to respond to that.”
[via NY Times]
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan