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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….


CNET Japan launches new site focussing on IT technology ventures September 6, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japan, Media, Uncategorized.
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CNET Networks Japan, the outfit behind CNET Japan and ZDNET Japan, launched CNET Venture View (site in Japanese). The new site features news and press releases, blogs written by business leaders, entrepreneurs and VCs (Masa Kobayashi from Globis Capital Partners, Ryu Muramatsu from GMO Venture Partners, Yozo Kaneko from Netage Capital Partners, and Hisashi Katsuya from IBM Venture Capital Group has an editorial thing going), editorials, and a directory of IT ventures.

Most of the content isn’t really new, the news and press releases are the same as what was being published on CNET Japan, as are most of the blogs. (some new bloggers have been recently recruited to bulk up the blogger pool)
The directory is a new feature, and the site features tags which may be a useful feature as content is built up. There does seem to be a lot of content which has been transplanted from the main CNET Japan portal, bringing everything together in one place does make it easier for people following the sector.

Mixi IPO Countdown (T-16 days and counting) August 29, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, Finance, IT, Japan, Uncategorized.

I’m sure everyone’s counting down the days to the Mixi IPO (September 14th)…..

The TSE announced the tentative price range for the Mixi IPO, at between JPY1.3M and JPY1.55M. Seeing that every single IPO this year has seen offer prices at the upper limit of the announced range, we can say with a fair degree of confidence that Mixi will be offered at JPY1.55M per share. Expect the full 7100 shares to go on sale, including the 500 over allotment shares.

That is still going to mean incredibly slim odds for anyone who isn’t a heavy trading high net worth individual on good terms with their brokerage or an institutional investor to get their hands on even one single share as part of the IPO.

70,500 shares (total issued shares as of 9/14) at JPY1.55M puts the IPO valuation at JPY109.2B, or a shade under $1Billion. Financial market insiders are talking about the share price peaking at anywhere between JPY5M-8M, which would put the post-IPO frenzy peak valuation at between $3Billion and $5Billion……

Crazy? Well, not in the alternative reality that is the Japanese emerging markets exchanges. Remember, Drecom was up in $1B territory (now around $400M, PER still above 300 though…), and that company had approximately 1/10th the sales and earnings of Mixi….

Assuming that Mixi is around 6 million accounts, 70% of which are active (access within last month),  gives about 4.2M unique-users-per-month. Which values Mixi users at around $200 per user, which is significantly more than the per-user valuations seen in US M&A plays of community sites like MySpace or Flickr….

Dell’s battery problem and Sony August 15, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, electronics, IT, Japan, technology, Uncategorized.
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With stories of Dell laptops doing a good impression of spontaneous combustion making the rounds, it was probably just a matter of time before a major recall was announced.

And here it is. A staggering 4.1Million machines are affected. The company responsible for creating the exploding batteries is the firm everybody loves to pick on these days, Sony.

I wonder what kind of hit Sony will take from this incident. I suspect Dell will be expecting Sony to foot a significant portion of the bill, as Sony has said that a manufacturing fault has been identified with the batteries it supplied. At $60-180 a pop, that’s $400million at retail prices (so probably a direct hit of at least $100million or so). Add the costs of advertising the recall, the logistics costs, and paying PR guys to manage this latest PR disaster, it all adds up. Not to mention the lost sales, for both Dell and Sony. Is this good news for alternative battery suppliers? Dell may be looking for some new suppliers….

Where is the consumer electronics engineering company we used to love, Mr Stringer? Of course, it isn’t Howard’s fault, he isn’t an engineer by any stretch of the imagination, and Sony’s problems started well before his time. Probably about the time when the founding members started being replaced by the 2nd generation. We all know the problems that family run businesses face when the founder passes the baton to his son, I don’t think the situation here is much different, unfortunately. It probably wasn’t helped by the shift from guys who understood engineering to marketing men in top management. There are a lot of middle aged ex-Sony guys who have left and are doing other things. Many of the ones I have met come across as people with a real love and passion for engineering. Which is why they probably left, disillusioned.

In cooperation with the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other regulatory agencies worldwide, Dell is today announcing the voluntary recall of approximately 4.1 million Dell-branded lithium-ion batteries with cells manufactured by Sony. Under rare conditions, it is possible for these batteries to overheat, which could cause a risk of fire.

The recalled batteries were sold with the following Dell notebook computers: Dell LatitudeTM D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800, D810; InspironTM 6000, 8500, 8600, 9100, 9200, 9300, 500m, 510m, 600m, 6400, E1505, 700m, 710m, 9400, E1705; and Dell PrecisionTM M20, M60, M70 and M90 mobile workstations; and XPSTM , XPS Gen2, XPS M170 and XPS M1710. The batteries were also sold separately, including in response to service calls. “Dell” and one of the following are printed on the batteries: “Made in Japan” or “Made in China” or “Battery Cell Made in Japan Assembled in China.” The identification number for each battery appears on a white sticker. Customers should have this number available when they contact Dell to determine if their battery is part of the recall.



It looks like this fiasco is going to cost Sony in the region of $300M, and authorities have stated that they will be checking the safety of all Sony Li-ion batteries, which have been supplied to other computer manufacturers. Li-ion batteries are used elsewhere too, Cameras, mobile phones, etc etc. Sony was the first manufacturer to commercialise the Li-ion in bulk, back in about 1990, and Li-ion technology (and battery technology in general) is a cash cow for Japanese manufacturers who own a huge chunk of the market. Sony, Sanyo, Matsushita are probably the big 3. However overseas manufacturers from S. Korea, Taiwan and increasingly China have been looking enviously at the stranglehold the Japanese have had on the market. They will see this as a chance to take market share.



This seems to be just the latest in an increasingly long line of incidents which are tarnishing the reputation of Japanese manufacturing’s legendary ability to turn out highest quality products. Given that Japan has lower cost competition snapping at its heals, it really needs to get its act together and maintain class leading levels of quality and reliability as well as adoption of new technology and product innovation to stand a chance. However, with the likes of Sony and Toyota fumbling about with massive recall programmes, one must wonder if we are seeing cracks appear.


For business travellers like myself, this type of incident makes us worry that the FAA is going to ban laptop PCs from cabin baggage, as they have seen how much energy a modern laptop battery contains, and with the reports of terrorists planning to use batteries to trigger explosions, the opportunity is there to make air travel that little bit more inconvenient. For a 12 hour intercontinental flight, not being able to work on board can be a big inconvenience. And seeing how baggage handlers throw around our checked-in luggage, I certainly wouldn’t trust them with my laptop.


Medical Negligence June 15, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in crime, Japan, law, Uncategorized.

Three doctors who were working at the Jikei University School of Medicine's Aoto Hospital, Taro Hasegawa, 37, Jun Madarame, 40, and Shigetaka Maeda, 35 have all been found guilty of professional negligence resulting in death, in the case of the death of a 60 year old man who underwent an operation at the hospital.

Suspended sentences of 24 to 30 months were handed down citing that other members of the hospital were complicit in the patient's death.

It is shocking that the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare sanction for Hasegawa and Madarame was just a 2 year suspension of their license (imposed in Mar 2004, so theoretically they could be practicing already). Both were fired by the hospital. Maeda got a 10 day suspension from the hospital, theMinistry of Health, Labour and Welfare has not imposed any sanction on him.

The doctors, or, indeed the hospital, had absolutely no experience in laparoscopic surgery which was attempted on the victim.

There was an attempted cover-up, and the hospital initially lied to the family of the victim.

These doctors who (tried to) put their own careers ahead of the welfare of the patient need to have their medical licenses revoked permanently.

Japanese doctors are well protected from legal claims, and the relevant ministry(the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) and the Japan Medical Association (a strong political lobby looking out first and foremost for its members, Hippocratic oath be damned, apparently), are extremely lenient in their treatment of doctors who have committed serious (and often, multiple) cases of negligence. Hospitals have been known to organise cover-ups, and destroy or modify patient records.

Japanese doctors (especially surgeons and senior administrators) often get cash gifts from their patients or their families, money which is not usually declared. It is partly the fault of patients who allow this scheme to be perpetuated.

The Japanese medical system and its legal oversight is in need of a major overhaul.

We need to out doctors who are unfit for the job, and drive them out of the profession. We also need to keep an eye out for doctors such as those involved in this case, and make sure they never get the chance to kill again. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the JMA need to realise that the Japanese public will no longer accept preferential treatment for doctors.

Doctors are no longer untouchable. Same goes for the other professions which were traditionally granted its members automatic social standing and respect from the community.

So many cases of doctors, teachers, politicians (what do these professions have in common? they were and still are addressed using the honorific "sensei") commiting professional misconduct or engaging in activities which are incompatible with the moral integrity required of these professions…..

NTT DoCoMo confirms fuel cell battery for mobile phones May 27, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Japan, Mobile, technology, Uncategorized.

Asahi Shimbun is reporting that NTT DoCoMo will be marketing a external fuel cell battery for phones in 2007.

DoCoMo head Masao Nakamura confirmed his company's intentions to sell a methanol fuel cell battery next year.

This is a result of DoCoMo's research into fuel cells with Fujitsu. Last year, DoCoMo and Fujitsu showed off their prototype fuel cell, press release here.

The prototype is pretty bulky, hopefully they will have managed  to make it a little smaller by the time it hits the shops.

The battery uses a methanol cartridge holding 18ml of high purity methanol, and a claimed capacity of 3 times the capacity of the Li-ion battery used in the phones.

It would seem that the energy density (taking into consideration the required associated parts) is a lot lower than Li-ion batteries at present.
Battery capacity is a pressing problem for handset manufacturers as phones become more powerful and with carriers pushing energy consumption intensive services like audio/video streaming, more powerful games (like full RPGs from SquareEnix), and providing the ability to watch analog/terrestrial digital TV on the phone. The new Vodafone 905SH (on sale today) manufactured by Sharp has a 4 hour battery life when watching TV, which seems to be enough endurance to keep a phone going for a day out even with liberal use of the phone even after watching a football game on the phone. (as an aside, the 905SH also has the ability to record TV programmes to an SD memory card)

Given how small battery chargers are (the one for my phone measures 3cm x 3cm x 1cm excluding the wires), and given there are USB chargers which can charge your phone from your computer, I wonder how much demand there will be for a bulky fuel cell battery extender. For the time being, people who need extended battery life would be better off getting one of those plug in battery extenders and some alkaline batteries. It would take up less space than the prototype and is probably cheaper to boot.

ブログの著作権 March 18, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Uncategorized.
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犯罪者隠匿体質のマスコミ March 7, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Japan, Japanese, Uncategorized.
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従業員の社会的責任を軽視する企業も多い。 (マスコミなんて、いい例だ)