Why are American corporations mostly dumb when it comes to adapting to globalization? Sure, they have figured out how to squeeze one more shoe out of a Pakastani kid during an ten hour day but damn if they can see the road ahead.
In Japan there are a lot of people who don’t use a computer to email and browse the web. They use a version of cell phone called i-Mode. These little devices are far superior to anything we have here in the US and an entire Japanese sub-culture has grown around the daily use of these wonderful convergence machines.
Using an i-Mode phone, people can bank, instant message, email, shop, play multiplayer games, trade web images, and call someone. The new FOMA protocal (being introduced in Japan now) is capable of 384 kbs download speeds, that’s the equivilent of a DSL or Cable modem. This is as close to Dick Tracy and Buck Rodgers as human civilization has, so-far, seen.
Each of these FOMA phones also features a video camera that lets users do true video conferencing. I saw this demonstrated (via video) at SXSW and it was incredible.
So back to the clueless Fortune 500. Remember those annoying ‘mlife’, AT&T commercials during the Superbowl? That was corporate America doing some suppa-star branding action for their i-Mode like service to be called m-Mode. Wow!
Now here’s where it really gets dumb. Instead of taking the success of i-Mode and pushing that, our m-Mode will let us email and instant message people. Holy Cow! Email on a phone? That’s crazy sci-fi talk! Once again corporate America has us believing we are unadaptable to ideas not originated here in the homeland. Has anyone at ‘mlife’ heard of Nintendo, Sony, Sega? Pokemon, Ghost in the Shell, Pizzicato Five, Godzilla?
We, the consumer, love things Japan and that will include the culture of i-Mode.
So fine, don’t give us games, cartoons, or anything fun (well except for the ability to find movie show times — rad dude!). No, we get one more stinking version of AOL ported to another device. Hey Steve Case, where’s AOL for my Maytag? I would like to instant message from my fridge, to my wife using Tivo, to see what kind of drink she wants.