Introduction and Background
DoCoMo not only demonstrates the power of marketing analysis and marketing techniques as they are applied to the introduction of technology, but they also illustrate the power of “re-framing,” or thinking about problems and opportunities differently which defines the essence of a product or service differently (Unger, 2012).
Accomplishment and Strength
DoCoMo aims at “reframing,” or creatively re-defining the “frame of reference,” or the way in which a set of criteria or dimensions of a technology, product, or service should be perceived, understood, or appreciated. This includes, most frequently, the dimension in which a specific target (i.e. customer or group) the product or service is intended for (Unger, 2012). As Christensen’s Product Exploration Matrix suggests, this proves beneficial more broadly as it is typically consistent amongst viewing product and service features (Christensen C.M, 1999).
Additionally, the NTT DoCoMo reinforces the theme of the fashion in which partnerships and alliances can extend the value of products as well as emphasises the importance, especially in a fast moving industry, of accurately understanding, at all times, the basis of competition in a product category (Unger, 2012).
NTT DoCoMo enables ideas and concepts, when carried out correctly, to be embraced by a particular market segment, leading to explosive growth over a very short period of time. DoCoMo contains the origins of many “smart phone” features in mobile communication that we often take for granted and see today regular mobile products. (Unger, 2012)
NTT DoCoMo applies the DICCE concept to market their products. Deep, Indulging, Complete, Elegant and Evocative, or DICCE, is a powerful marketing tool (Kawasaki, 2000). This tool involves the lifestyle factor of the target market, enforcing the idea that consumers will purchase a product because they want to either be different or because they want to identify with a group, or “tribe,” of similar consumers. NTT DoCoMo, appealing to this natural human desire, constantly attempts to have their products as or more popular than the latest and trendiest mobile phone. They use the I-mode system, providing unique and extraordinary user experience to target audience, in order to achieve this (HBS, 2002).
Cultural and natural human issues involved in doing innovation at traditional bureaucratic organizations may plague DoCoMo , but they demonstrate how to overcome these hurdles. For example, in traditional Japanese companies, one is supposed to hire from within; however, the CEO of DoCoMo hires two executives from the outside that have wireless internet business experience in order to lead marketing and innovation.
Additional issues involve attempting to assimilate the concepts of one country (Japan) to different country. For example, most overseas operators are extremely reluctant to relinquish control over content to third parties, making it harder for overseas carriers to adopt the i-mode model. There were also differences in consumer behaviour. The team has been working with foreign telecommunication partners in order to bring the i-mode model to U.S. and European markets. On the other hand, they are adopting different marketing strategies for other international markets.
In 2002, DoCoMo faced some challenges regarding the use of “FOMA” (e.g. third generation or 3-G wireless technology) in their i-mode offerings within Japan. These issues greatly impacted the actual “user experience.” This also implies that a basis of competition is changing for the customers that they have targeted.
When and What was Relevant/ Irrelevant?
NTT DoCoMo market contains, though containing many trend changes, one main trend change in particular. The NTT DoCoMo case initially leaned towards marketing their products to business users exclusively. This was considered as irrelevant; however, the information that started to accrue indicates that the youth market began to engage with the product, resulting in a change of focus. To make such change, one needs information, exhibiting just how powerful the correct information can be.
DoComon’s Current Situation
NTT Docomo, accumulating more than 53 million customers as of March 2008, more than half of Japan’s cellular market, the company provides a wide variety of mobile multimedia services. These include i-mode, which provides e-mail and internet access to over 50 million subscribers, and FOMA, launched in 2001, which was the world’s first 3G mobile service based on W-CDMA (nttdocomo.com, 2012).
In addition to wholly owned subsidiaries in Europe and North America, the company is expanding it’s global outreach through strategic alliances with mobile and multimedia service providers in Asia-Pacific and Europe. NTT Docomo is now listed in the Tokyo (9437), London (NDCM), and New York (DCM) stock exchanges (nttdocomo.com, 2012).
History and It’s Impact on Japanese Innovation
Ultimately, DoCoMo’s i-mode is far more than only a successful mobile Internet service as it has proven to own a dynamic innovation system that endogenously generates over time significant co-evolving innovations in content, customer tastes and preferences, and applications, enabling technologies and formation of organisations. As such, it is appropriate to include DoCoMo’s i-mode system with other key Japanese systemic innovations that have shown wide-ranging impacts, such as the just-in-time system of production (Fransman, 2002).
Christensen C.M. Innovation and the General Manager Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Irwin. Section 2.3 – Discovering what has been Discovered: What Job was your Product hired to do? (1999): pp. 169-178.
Fransman, Martin. “Explaining the success of NTT DOCOMO’s I-MODE wireless Internet Service
HBS 9-502-031” (July 2002).
Kawasaki, Guy. “Don’t Worry Be Crappy?” Rules for Revolutionaries. (2000): Chapter 2.
“Company History | About Us | NTT DOCOMO Global.” Company History | About Us | NTT DOCOMO Global. Web. 29 May 2012. .
Unger. Lecture 6, course MET AD 741, Boston University. (2012).
Eric Tse, Richmond Hill, Toronto
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