Japan gets it
One of my Japanese colleagues brought this to my attention yesterday. I haven't seen it reported anywhere in English (though I admit that I'm woefully behind in my reading at the moment). It seems that at an event in Tokyo a couple of weeks back, Keiichi Enoki, VP of Products and Services at DoCoMo, sat on a panel wherein he expressed anxiety as to whether 4G technology would ever come about in the way people expect. The article is here, and while it's in Japanese, luckily that's a language I read. On top of the predictable discussion of licensed vs. unlicensed spectrum coming into conflict in Japan, Mr. Enoki says (my translation), "There's also Skype. Maybe we're moving to a situation where it will be enough just to have an internet connection." I and others have been saying that for two years, but it's interesting to hear such a powerful figure from a behemoth like DoCoMo going anywhere near this thesis, at least in a public forum.
I have also been spending a bit of time with one of my Japanese counterparts from Tokyo, Jun Hasebe, who covers the likes of Softbank and Yahoo! Japan. He is currently on a worldwide marketing tour, and while many find Japanese analysts somewhat circumspect, he has some punchy messages, which are probably familiar to anyone reading this. One of his best slides is entitled "The Fatal Flaw of Communications as an Infrastructure Service" (personally I like the use of the word "fatal"). Over lunch the other day he said, as if voicing my own thoughts, "2004 was the year when the internet declared war on telecom, and 2005 is broadcasting's turn." If I ever actually finish this note on BSkyB (70 pages and counting), I hope to show why.