Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Copenhagen Business School, Department of Informatics

No 2003-6: The challenging of the old Tsunami

Lars Engel Nielsen and Volker Mahnke
Additional contact information
Lars Engel Nielsen: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Howitzvej 60 , DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
Volker Mahnke: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Howitzvej 60 , DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Abstract: In recent years, the leading Japanese wireless operator NTT DoCoMo has risen from being largely unknown outside Japan to international fame. Ground-breaking service innovations such as the world’s first wireless internet service, I-mode, the world’s first third generation wireless service FOMA, as well as the company’s successful proliferation of its W-CDMA 3G technologies as the UMTS standard in Europe have generally impressed the troubled telecom industry on its brink to the new era wireless data services. Conversely, much scientism has been aired whether the NTT DoCoMo experience applies to European and US contexts due to differences in e.g. demographics, Internet penetration, and wireless industry structures. To date, these considerations have largely been based on anecdotal reports in trade magazines and an increasing number of case studies focused primarily on the I-mode service (e.g. Mulder and Simpson (2001); Harvard (2000)). Notable, exceptions are Ratliff (2001) and Williamson and Meegan (2002) that however both point to the need for elevating insights on NTT DoCoMo. This working paper sets out to contribute to a more elaborate picture of NTT DoCoMo. The working paper is outlined as follows. Departing from a sketch of DoCoMo’s current challenges from the perspective of the CEO Keiji Tachikawa as the financial year 2003 is coming to an end (March 31 2003), a brief introduction to DoCoMo’s history and its innovative capabilities initiates the effort to present a more detailed picture of the company. Then, the normal perception of NTT DoCoMo as a de facto monopolist with all dominating market and bargaining power is challenged by means of longitudinal study of the Japanese wireless market’s development from 1992 to 2003. During this period, DoCoMo’s leadership position as increasingly been challenged by new competitors that emerged from an industry consolidation and regulatory forces. It is found that the nature of competition has shifted from DoCoMo’s undisputed dominance to a more dynamic environment signified by intense service innovation based competition. Then, insights are provided as how the NTT DoCoMo competes in its new environment. Three key strategic pillars are analyzed, namely the company’s to approaches the (1) orchestrating of innovation with the examples of I-mode, C-mode, and Telematics services, (2) relational challenges with the examples of technology standardization alliances, interfirm relationships with handset providers and internationalization partners, and lastly (3) how new growth avenues are explored

Keywords: na

JEL-codes: H00

28 pages, March 18, 2009

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