The New Context Conference 2008

We are holding The New Context Conference 2008 again this year, and it's admission free!

Please check out the website, register and be there to meet all the cool folks! This year's theme is "Open Business Network - Backbone of the internet venture business –".

*****Basic Info*****

Dates: November 5th and 6th, 2008
Venue: Ebisu Garden Hall/Room, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

*****11/5 Program*****

==10:00-11:00 Keynote by Reid Hoffman==

“How LinkedIn and Facebook are developing Open Business Network”

Reid is the founder of business network service "LinkedIn" as well as an investor of "Facebook".

==11:15-12:30 “The new business dynamic content distribution brings”==

Jean-Marie Hullot, founder of fotonauts
Eric Young, CEO of iKnow
Mitsuhiro Takemura, professor of Sapporo City University
Tetsuya Mizuguchi, game creator, producer of Genki Rockets

==13:30-15:00 “Electronic commerce across the border”==

Matt Flannery, founder of Kiva
Teruhide Sato, CEO of Netprice
Hitoshi Ushiku, CEO of e-context

==15:30-17:00 “Silicon Valley Connect in Tokyo”==

Ellen Levy, VP of LinkedIn
Jiro Kokuryo, professor at Keio University
Mikiyasu Yasuda, COO of Kakaku.com

*****11/6 Program*****

==10:00-11:00 Keynote by Tsuyoshi Natsuno==

“The future of mobile internet and video streaming service”

Natsuno-san was one of the core members creating business models for NTT Docomo's i-mode service. He is currently a professor at Keio University as well as advisor at Dwango.

==11:00-12:30 “Mash-up as a key for the rapid progress of internet consumer service”==

Tsuyoshi Natsuno, advisor of Dwango
Andrew “bunnie” Huang, CTO of Chumby
Loic Le Meur, founder of Seesmic
Lisa Sounio, founder of Dopplr

==13:30-15:00 “The future of advertisement with Open Network”==

Spencer Hyman, COO of Last.fm
Marko Ahtisaari, responsible for the brand and design of Blyk
Hiroyuki Watanabe, Nikkei BP

==15:30-17:00 “What’s the next big thing?”==
Joi and other speakers


Blog Action Day 2008

I am joining Blog Action Day 2008.

Today, 10/15 is called "Blog Action Day", when bloggers around the world unite to discuss a single issue - poverty.

If you are not familiar with what it is, please visit Blog Action Day 2008 website, and join the event.

There are 3 ways for you to participate:
1) Publish: write about poverty on your blog, and your thoughts on solutions.
2) Donate: Donate to a micro-finance loan or charity.
3) Promote: Spread the word!

1) Thinking about poverty in Japan (as "what's happening in Japan" is the core theme of this blog)

When we use the word "poverty", we usually refer to developing countries where there are starvation, homeless people, etc.

This is the Human Development Index chart, and you can see that Japan is one of the most developed nation in the world.

* This chart is licensed under public domain

I have seen a TV program that shows how convenience stores throws away food that is still able to eat- but has exceeded the use-by-date (shoumi kigen, in Japanese). I have heard some people goes to trash cans to find those trash foods... Japanese people are generally very far from poverty and starvation.

However, there still is poverty problem in Japan- called "the working poor problem".

There was a vicious circle in the Japanese companies when they were in a depression - they tried to lower the HR expenses, they started to decrease full-time employment and increased part-time workers with low salary and intense labor.

This data is a bit old, but you can see how lower-range salary workers are increasing whereas higher-range salary workers are decreasing.

With such environment as a background, some people came to be called "working poor" - they are working hard, but not gaining enough salary to maintain their (or their families') lives, and "working poor" has become a social concern, with TV programs created and books published about the issue.

"Poverty" is a problem in developing countries, "working poor" is said to be a phenomenon in developed countries not only in Japan... Korea, US, UK has similar problems, where cost of sustaining lives is relatively high.

So I've talked about people who are working but poor. As you know there are people who can't find jobs and not working hence poor. Another social problem in Japan is people who abandoned to make efforts to work. They are called NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) , Hikikomori (not coming out of the house) or Jitaku-keibi-in (Guardian of my house- ironically referring to themselves not going out of their houses, and claiming that they are guarding their house). Some of them are watching the internet the whole day, watching BBS such as 2 channel or watching video sharing sites such as Nico Nico Douga.

Although I agree that most of these people are "consumers" and merely consuming the contents. But because they are watching the net the whole day, and because they have so much time to kill, some of those people becomes "creators" and start creating astonishing things- contents, programs, etc. I am hoping that some day, we can make a system where we can help them monetize those creations.

Japanese society has created people who are not very good at communicating with others, and those people have a lot of difficulty working at normal companies. Nevertheless, some of them has talents that the "company employees" rarely have, and I am greatly interested in those talents. They are not properly evaluated by the public now... but I am hoping someday, we can make a system where we can cultivate those talents and help them gain reward out of those talents and works. I think websites like Nico Nico Douga helps to cultivate those talents.

2) KIVA- a way you can help people

I am a member of a service called KIVA, which is also supporting "Blog Action Day".

It's actually a great system where you can go to the website and register, search on entrepreneurs in developing countries who are looking for people to loan so that they can start/grow their business and make their dreams come true. You can search by gender, sector, region etc.

There are many virtues about KIVA, but one of them is that 100% of the money you give goes to the entrepreneur that you selected to support. There are many programs out there in the world such as "foster parent" program etc, but basically those organizations take a bunch of money for their operation and give what is left to the people. KIVA is good because you get to select who you are supporting, you can give 100% of the money to the person you want to support.

Another great thing about KIVA is that you can start loaning from 25 USD per loan. Also, as you do not have to pay monthly fee or anything, you can lend when you have some money, you have no obligation when you don't.

I have supported a 51 year old woman in Nigeria who has been selling drinks for a long time but learned to produce Nylon within the past 2 years and want to sell more drinks and Nylon production. Gosh, she learned how to create Nylon while running her store selling drinks... I think that's great!

I have supported a cameraman in Ghana who has been a general photographer for 10 years and shoots videos too, and wants to expand his photo studio. I love shooting photos and videos too, and it is my pleasure to support him.

I have supported a Mexican woman who started a business because she had to support herself and her family after her husband's death... Look at her crafts- they are so cute, and I am hoping she can buy more materials to make more crafts.

I have supported a butcher in Togo- you should really see this photo of the huge meat!

I have supported 2 women's group of farmers in Samoa- this and this. Those photos with the bright sun and the group of women with strong expressions in their faces made me imagine about the vegetables they grow... I hope I can visit them one day to taste the products they grew :D

Anyone can have their own reason to pick who they support... but KIVA gives us a great opportunity to do so, and I am a great fan of this service. Although I am not rich and am not able to give a lot of money, I feel I am helping their lives. Getting emails for their repayments makes me happy as I know those people are making progress :D

3) So last but not least, this is the Blog Action Day 2008 promotion video!

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.


Is Japan the #1 broadband country?

BBC news reported that "Japan tops world broadband study "

Basically it's an article about the quality of the broadband network, not penetration etc.

It is based on a 42-nation study carried out by a team of MBA students from the Said Business School at the University of Oxford and the University of Oviedo's Department of Applied Economics and sponsored by Cisco Systems.

They (researchers) said Japan's early commitment to investing in broadband made it the only country prepared to deliver the necessary quality for next-generation web applications over the next three to five years.

This is the actual ranking:

There is another article from last year's worldwide broadband speedtests:

Japan has an average speed of 93Mbps according to the OECD, but this falls to 10.6Mbps according to speedtest.net, which could be indicative of the fact that fibre is concentrated in the towns and cities.

Cable broadband is quite strong in Japan but the biggest market is in fibre to the home.

This has proved so popular with consumers that DSL is actually in decline. Companies are so advanced with fibre delivery that they are beginning to find DSL surplus to requirements.

The speeds fibre provides means applications such as sharing video files are standard.

Fibre also dramatically improves upload speeds, making it much more suitable for web 2.0 communication, with individuals contributing back to the internet with pictures and videos.

Okay, quality is quality. What about the penetration? You may ask.


Here you see Japan in the 3rd place with 27,152,349 subscriberes as of June 2007. (their data is a bit old)

On 2008/9/17, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications reported [ja] Japanese subscription of broadband services are 29,341,909. You can see some more detailed numbers of each service (FTTH, DSL,CATV, FWA).


Japan is not even in top20 here.
#1 is Bermuda, they only have a population of 64,574, of which 23,600 are broadband subscribers which leads them to have 36.5 % penetration rate.

This is really contrary to China, which was ranked 2nd in the subscription ranking but not in the top 20, they have 48,500,000 subscribers, but have a population of 1,317,431,495 which makes their penetration as low as 3.7 %.

It looks like this report brought a lot of debate, this article being one of them. OECD Broadband Report Questioned - US Broadband Penetration Grows to 81.8% Among Active Internet Users - May 2007 Bandwidth Report

The post mentions that The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) suggests that adding speed and price to the equation would show a more complete picture of a nation's broadband rankings.

So, this is the report using ITIF suggestoin creating overall broadband score based on penetration (subscribers per household), speed (average speed) and price (price per month for 1 mbps, fastest technology).

According to this ranking, Korea is #1 with 15.73points, Japan is #2 with 14.99points.


Ad spending

According to Nikkei Ad Research, ad spending of listed companies in Japan in FY2007 has decreased 1.9%, totalling 3 trillion 392.4 billion yen.

This is TOP 10 Japanese ad spending listed companies.

This is US version (data source Ad Age, you can see the whole list of top 100 companies here)

I see Toyota, SONY and Nissan here... and SONY is not in Japanese version.

BTW, according to Masayuki Hagiwara, CEO of Netratings Japan, Softbank was placed 4th in last year's ranking and it is not in the ranking this year despite the fact that we see Softbank's ads everywhere.

He went on to check Softbank's financial report [ja] and the numbers are as follows:

FY 2006: 62,692(million yen)
FY 2007: 22,397(million yen)

This is because Softbank included sales promotion fees in ad spending fees till last year, and from FY 2007 they changed it to another category (which was 53,484 million yen).

If the category was the same, the numbers would have been:

FY 2007: 75,881(million yen)

This means that it would be ranked 4th again with 21% increase from last year.

"This number makes more sense" says Hagiwara. Totally agree :)