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Lenovo announces recall… September 29, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, IT, Japan.
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Well, it is being reported that Lenovo has announced a recall of 526,000 laptops which use Sony Li-ion batteries which were at the center of the recalls affecting Dell and Apple. Just a month ago, Lenovo appeared pretty confident that the problem would not affect them.

Several other manufacturers also distanced themselves from the Dell/Apple recalls, but with Sony announcing that they will be recalling all batteries of the same type, it appears these manufacturers will also be affected. They had stated that they were unaffected because whilst they used the same Li-ion cells, the design and peripheral electronics (used for battery management and charging, for example) were different from the Dell/Apple batteries and this meant that their batteries were safe and unaffected.

I had thought at the time that that was a rather bold stance to take, and it certainly appears those manufacturers who made a point of stating that their machines were unaffected will have to retract their earlier statements. The big question for me is whether the markets will punish companies who jumped the gun with their safety announcements, as I feel they should. My belief is that such behaviour is not an one-off event, but indicative of a broader corporate philosophy which seeks to hide or downplay negative news at the expense of procedural compliance, honesty and potential issues of consumer safety. I don’t think it is sufficient to make the excuse that they didn’t “think” it was a problem, when the issue was still under investigation. Either these companies jumped the gun, or Sony gave them bad intel and should be held accountable. Either way, some heads should roll. (Of course, that is unlikely to happen in any Japanese PC maker)

Woes continue for Sony….. 6.42 million units recalled and counting. The number will rise as other manufacturers announce recalls. How much will the recalls cost Sony? Seems certain that the bill will be upwards of $0.5billion in recall costs, and there will likely be an impact of the negative coverage on future sales as well.

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Dell, Apple and now, Lenovo – Sony battery problems again? September 24, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT.
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So, now a Lenovo Thinkpad catches fire. This the latest Sony PC battery related issue. CNET article here.

Hmmm…. Last month Lenovo was one of the manufacturers who categorically stated they were unaffected by the problems which have affected Dell and Apple.

Are they going to have to eat their words? Of course, a battery can catch fire for a variety of reasons (very rarely of course), and it might be that the problem which caused theLenovo PC to spontaneously combust may be different from the specific manufacturing issue which caused the problems with Dell and Apple machines….

However, if it does turn out that it is the same problem, Lenovo will have some serious explaining to do.

PS If you own an affected machine, take the manufacturer up on that recall asap. Otherwise your machine could look a lot like this. It is embarassing enough if it happens at work, but if the machine isn’t company issue you might lose more than just the data on the machine, most companies disapprove of using personal PCs at work….

The Economist on Social Networks September 23, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Uncategorized.
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The Economist had an article in the Sept 14th Edition regarding Social Networking.

It makes a passing mention of Mixi’s IPO. In comparison with Mixi, I feel that the rumoured valuations in the billon dollar range for Facebook seem to be about right, especially as the network structure based on academic institutions makes profiling and targetting high value user groups easier and more accessible for monetization.

Social networking | Hanging with the in-crowd | Economist.com

From the BBC: Browser flaw seen on porn sites (only if you use IE) September 21, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Uncategorized.
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Another reason to use Firefox or some other alternative browser….

BBC NEWS | Technology | Browser flaw seen on porn sites

Mixi IPO day 2 review (and my latest swipe at TechCrunch) September 15, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IPO, IT, Japan, TechCrunch.
5 comments

After posting a price of JPY2.95M at the beginning of the day and dipping as low as JPY2.56M in the early afternoon, the stock rallied to close at JPY3.12M, which translates to a valuation of JPY219B, just shy of $2B. Trading volume was 10,203 shares.

With approx 25% of shares held by VCs who aren’t subject to lock-up, it is certainly likely that there won’t be any supply side problems. It’ll be interesting to see if the 2 VCs offloaded a substantial portion of their holdings today.

Given this is the world’s first SNS IPO, and probably the biggest “Web2.0” exit thus far, it is surprising that TechCrunch haven’t felt this is a matter worth covering. You’d think that with their “Japanese Editorial Team”, they would have their finger on the pulse…..

Yes, this is my latest dig at TechCrunch regarding their reticence about giving us more details about TechCrunch Japanese, especially since they have not replied to my two emails. Maybe the problem is that I actually wrote to editor-jp@techcrunch.com in Japanese…. Maybe I’ll be bothered one of these days to redraft the letter in english and send it to Michael Arrington directly. Perhaps he is actually unaware of the fact that such an inquiry has been lodged with the “Japanese Editorial Team”. But then again, Gen Kanai did say his comment on TechCrunch regarding this issue was deleted…. Not the way I would have expected a self-proclaimed “Web2.0” blog media outfit to have handled this situation…..
Anyway, for those that read Japanese, here’s the original email I sent out…..

TechCrunch日本語版編集部殿、

はじめまして、TechCrunch及びTechCrunch日本語版の一読者の福重と申します。

いくつか質問がありますので、ご回答頂ければと思います。

1.TechCrunch日本語版編集部について

TechCrunch日本語版も開始から早二ヶ月以上が経ちました。

日本語版開始当時にMichael Arringtonに「TechCrunch本家や仏語版は記事の作者や翻訳者が明記されているのに、日本語版では翻訳・編集に関わっているメンバーの顔が見れず、Web2.0を題材にし、さらにブログフォーマットのメディアとしては違和感を覚えるが、どのように考えるか」と質問した経緯があります。その際、Arrington氏は立ち上げで多忙だが、いずれこの点に関しては対処するとの回答を頂きました。( Arrington氏曰く:”I totally agree that the “team” needs to be announced and hopefully it will soon. Let us just take our first steps.”)

しかしながら、既に何の変化も無く、2ヶ月以上経過しております。

先日英国版が発表されましたが、

本家では:

“TechCrunch UK is obviously not a translated blog like TechCrunch France and TechCrunch Japan (although both of these blogs have lots of original content as well).”

となっているものが日本語版では:

“TechCrunch UKはTechCrunch France TechCrunch 日本語版のようなTechCrunchの翻訳サイトとは明らかに異なるもの。”

となっています。

(TechCrunch(仏)は夏季休暇中ので該当記事が未掲載)

括弧内の文章を削除する編集行為は文章全体の意味合いを変えるものであり、単純な翻訳作業を大きく超えています。単純な翻訳作業だけでなく、編集作業を手掛けている現状を踏まえると、日本語版編集者の顔を見せることにより強い必要性を感じます。

・日本語版チームの発表が出来ない理由が何かあるのでしょうか?

・今後日本語版の編集に関わっているメンバーの紹介を行う予定はあるのでしょうか?

そもそも、日本語版には”lots of original content”があるのでしょうか。日本語版を読めない英語版読者向けの誇大広告のように映ってしまいます。(これは日本語版編集チームの問題ではありませんが)

ちなみに、日本語編集者の匿名性に関して知人がTechCrunch(US)へ書き込みましたが、このコメントも削除されましたので、この度公開質問状としてメールで送付すると同時に小生のブログにて公開させて頂きます。ご返信の際は、返信内容を公開されたくないようでしたらその旨明記願います。

2.TechCrunch日本語版の今後の活動内容について

Web2.0分野では日本でも動きが活発です。独自コンテンツの作成を通して日本の技術力を世界へ発信するメディアとしてTechCrunchネットワークは絶好のポジショニングを確立していると思っており、ご活躍を期待しています。

現時点では海外版の記事の単純翻訳(+一言コメント、これも多くは日本ユーザ向けと言うよりは業界に詳しくない人向けの補足情報のレベルと見受ける)だけと断定せざるを得ませんが、日本独自の観点からの追加取材、検証等を行い、日本のユーザやデベロッパーにより意味のある記事を期待したい。(例えば米国では先進的なサービスと紹介された場合、果たして日本でも前例の無いサービスなのかなどの追加情報があると便利であり、これらの情報は原文へフィードバックして反映されることにより、原文記事もより質の高い物になる。また、記事内には類似サービスが挙げられている場合も、日本版では国内サービスも列挙されてもいいと思う)

・日本語版独自コンテンツの作成や上記のような追加取材・検証のご予定はありますでしょうか?
(事業戦略上、公に出来ない事柄もあろうかと察しますが、教えていただける範囲内でなんらかのコメントを頂ければと思います)

重ねて申し上げますが、TechCrunch(含む日本語版)にはWeb2.0業界の中核的なメディアの役割を期待しています。ブログもWeb2.0も根底には共通する「会話」という基本要素が存在します。まずはその精神に則って、編集作業に携わっている皆様のご紹介をお待ちしております。

また、文中の他の質問へのご回答も合わせてお待ちしています。

I really don’t have anything against TechCrunch, honestly. They provide a valuable service to the community of users who are interested in the whole “Web2.0” phenomenon/trend/revolution/fad/bubble/whatever. However I happen to think that it seems to be such a waste to have a Japanese team and then not cover what is what would be a pretty big deal for “Web2.0” (if social networking is “Web2.0”, and I think the consensus is that it is) if there was an SNS IPO (or billion dollar exit of any nature in the Web2.0 arena) in the US.

Mixi IPO Day 2 September 15, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IPO, IT, Japan.
3 comments

Trading on the 2nd day has started with sell orders outstripping buy orders at the start price of JPY3.15M, and the first transaction was executed at JPY2.95M.
The Mixi IPO was all over the news last night, with many analysts questioning the valuation (at yesterday’s close the valuation was JPY222B) as overpriced.

The critical coverage and a night’s reflection may have brought many potential buyers to their senses.

However, that does not necessarily mean that the stock will not go higher, several recent IPOs have seen strong short term movements after an initial case of cold feet.In the long run (through 6 months or so), Mixi will probably settle down at around the issue price, based on comparisons of PER with other stocks on the Japanese emerging markets exchanges.

The Mixi coverage on the media was funny to watch. Commentators were either knowingly or through ignorance, misrepresenting facts. The oft debated distinction between number of accounts and actual users was glossed over, and many were giving the impression that somehow Mixi was more trustworthy because users had to fill in a profile. Just a quick look would show that many users elect set up a profile which is limited in scope or downright fictional.

Still, the fact remains that Mixi has eyeballs, average user times and page views would indicate that it has top class advertising real estate.

So-net launches Flash version of their Blog Keyword Visualizer September 15, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japan.
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Here (requires Flash 9)

So-net (Sony Communications Network) has also set up a Web2.0 information portal, and has a bunch of “Web2.0 products”, including: blog, photo, SNS, calendar, RSS reader and Q&A/questionnaire sites.

Admittedly I haven’t heard much about any of the services, I wonder how many non-So-net ISP customers use these sites in preference to the countless other sites which offer similar services…..

New Japanese map site September 15, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japan, Uncategorized.
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A new Flash based map site has been released by Recruit, the Japanese information services company (Recruit is a $3 Billion sales per year organisation).

The site, sugoi.doko.jp, appears basically to be an add on to the Japanese local search portal Recruit have set up at doko.jp.

These services would appear to fit well with their existing web and print portfolios. People living in Tokyo are sure to have come across free magazines like Hot Pepper and R25 which have popped up in recent years. Recruit are also big publishers, having publications covering everything from jobs, travel, cars, education, mail order catalogues. Their basis principle appears to be content aggregation, most of their content is of an infomercial/advertorial nature which requires little effort on the part of writers and editors. Through their extensive publishing network, they have built an extensive database of all sorts of service providers and it seems to be a no brainer for them to provide additional channels to leverage and monetize this data.

This seems to be a pretty good example of how a progressive big company can leverage its position and advantage as incumbent, given the same technical tools, the company with the data and the monetization channels has the upper hand. In the end, the data and the relationships are usually the main value generators in many internet services.

Recruit is a company that has a reputation for producing innovative services, and this is just the latest example.

It is a pity that Recruit’s (english) homepage has a glaring typo right at the top….

Mixi IPO related news September 14, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IPO, IT, Japan.
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DoubleClick, the on-line advertiser, was up 9.5% today. (and was up strongly yesterday as well)
DoubleClick counts Mixi amongst its “DART for Publishers” ASP advertising service customers.

Netage and CyberAgent, both large shareholders of Mixi, were up at the start of the day but edged downwards, ending in negative territory for the day.

Mixi is now the 2nd highest valued company on MOTHERS, behind ACCESS, which has JPY17B in sales, and is valued at JPY285B….

Mixi IPO today September 14, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IPO, IT, Japan.
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Mixi (ticker: 2121.t), the #1 Japanese SNS with a claimed 80%+ domestic market share is now listed on MOTHERS.

Issue price was JPY1.55M, and the price is heading skywards. Checking the news on 2121.t on our Bloomberg terminal at work, at the start of trading, buy orders were outnumbering sell orders 19 to 1.

The price has edged above JPY3M (close at JPY3.15M) at the end of the first day of trading, with a balance of 5000 buy orders meaning that no shares were traded on the first day.

The TSE has announced that it has set the maximum upward price fluctuation at double the previous day ‘s (today’s) close, which would mean that it could go up to JPY6.3M by the end of tomorrow.

The current share price values Mixi at JPY222B (nearly $2B) and makes the 30 year old CEO an instant billionaire (at least on paper).