Six years ago, Softbank Mobile took a risk by buying out Vodafone’s operations in Japan. They gambled with the future of their company on the expansion of the mobile Internet market. This strategy has propelled Softbank to become a nationwide company in Japan and the leading mobile operator. They are now expressing their hopes to expand their presence globally.
Mr. Matsumoto, Chief Strategic Advisor of Softbank, shares with us today the upcoming projects of Softbank Mobile and their predictions for the future of mobile Internet. The three major values of Softbank are “marketing, billing and after sales service”. He expresses the importance of communication with the end user, of having a convenient billing service that does not rely on credit cards, and of taking full responsibility in fixing problems for consumers.
In the first few minutes of meeting Mr. Matsumoto, one can tell he is particularly proud of the company’s core philosophy, as he repeats it numerous times. He says our first and foremost priority is to “make the best packages for end users, if end users are satisfied, they are willing to pay. Receiving the best profit sharing schemes is not as important.” Mr. Matsumoto explains that this is because profits will naturally flow in when customers are satisfied.
Even though Softbank is the exclusive iPhone retailer in Japan, they receive zero profits from selling the iPhones. 30% of profits go to the developers, while the other 70% go to Apple Inc. Despite this clear loss in balance sheet, they put substantial efforts in marketing and in training staff to help the public get familiar with the iPhone, because they believe that, in the end, users will have a better experience with Apple products.
Softbank is also very keen on marketing and selling Android devices; however, sales growth is slower than they expected. Mr. Matsumoto attributes this sluggish growth with the problems Japanese customers encounter with Android devices. Some high end games may run on one Android platform but not on another. This inconsistency creates confusion for consumers. A company that focuses on providing the best end-user experience will naturally dedicate more attention to other devices, Mr. Matsumoto says.
Mr. Matsumoto explains that the next generation of killer apps will be hosted on the 4g network. Apps that do not run well on 3g devices are the apps with high-bandwidth demand, such as video streaming apps. The next killer video streaming apps can best exploit the faster speed and lower cost of the 4g network. Softbank is a strong pusher of 4g, working with many other large mobile operators such as China based companies to develop the 4g network.
Will is an undergraduate exchange student in Beijing at Tsinghua and a guest writer for mobisights.com