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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Telecommunications Policy, Volume 31, Issue 1, February 2007, Pages 14–30
This paper describes the evolution of the mobile Internet in terms of three concepts: the startup problem, standard setting, and mental models. Products in which there is little or no value to the first users due to the existence of strong direct (e.g., telephone) or indirect (complementary products) network effects face a large startup problem. This paper divides the startup problem for the mobile Internet into two stages. Japanese and later other service providers solved the first startup problem with entertainment content that was supported by a micro-payment system (service providers collect and pass on content fees to content providers) and custom phones that displayed this content in a consistent manner. Western service providers were slow to introduce micro-payment systems and entertainment content due to their initial focus on business users, which reflected their mental models. Mental models, which can also be thought of as shared beliefs or values, are typically based on historical experience as opposed to current knowledge of the environment and often prevent the development of new business models or new perceptions of foreign markets. Western service providers were slow to obtain phones that display content in a consistent manner because manufacturers were unable to agree on content and other standards in the wireless application protocol (WAP) Forum and subsequently have been slow to provide service providers with custom phones. Japanese service providers are the only ones to have solved the second startup problem with Internet mail that is modified for the small screens, slow speeds, and low processing power of phones (called “push-based Internet mail”) and non-entertainment sites that are formatted for the small screen of the phone and easily accessed via universal resource locators (URLs), which can get embedded in this mail. Push-based Internet mail is similar to short message services (SMS) except that it is perfectly compatible with the Internet. Like SMS, it is automatically “pushed” to phones after it arrives on a service provider's servers and it is restricted in size. The mail's arrival on the phone causes the phone to beep and display an icon on the screen. Users merely click on the icon to access the mail and it is not necessary for them to open their mail clients or browsers as most people do when they access mail on their personal computer (PC).Western service providers are now moving slowly to introduce “push-based Internet mail” and promote site access via URLs in order to avoid cannibalizing their SMS revenues; this also reflects their mental models.
The variety of applications for the mobile Internet has grown and continues to grow at a much faster pace in Japan than in the rest of the world. While mail/messaging and to a lesser extent entertainment has experienced rapid growth in almost every country in the world, it is only in Japan where there has been substantial growth in more advanced applications. As shown in Table 1, Table 2 and Table 3, mail/messaging, which is often called short message services (SMS) is a global phenomenon and the fact that the Japanese market represented less than 25% of the global market for ringing tones and games in 2004 suggests that entertainment content has become a global phenomenon.1 Japan is the only country that has experienced substantial growth in advanced applications such as the sale of physical products and services (see Tables 2 and 4), mobile marketing, and enterprise applications in the mobile Internet. This is partly because Japanese service providers modified Internet mail for the small screens and low processing power of phones making it possible for anyone in Japan to send mail from a personal computer (PC) to a phone for free (recipients pay less than $0.01) since 1999 using what this paper calls “push-based Internet mail”. Push-based Internet mail is similar to SMS except that it is perfectly compatible with the Internet. Like SMS, it is automatically “pushed” to phones after it arrives on a service provider's servers and it is restricted in size. The mail's arrival on the phone causes the phone to beep and display an icon on the screen. Users merely click on the icon to access the mail and it is not necessary for them to open their mail clients or browsers as most people do when they access mail on their PC. Anyone can send this mail from a PC to a phone and the use of embedded universal resource locators (URLs) in this mail has helped create a critical mass of non-entertainment content that is formatted for the small screen of the mobile phone. This mail enables Japanese firms to develop closer relations with their customers and improve communication with employees who do not spend much time in the office. For example, it is estimated that about 33% and 15% of Japanese firms have introduced systems that enable employees to access their PC mail and corporate data on their phone (without a laptop or PDA), respectively2 while few employees do either of these on their phones outside of Japan. Just as the PC Internet has had a tremendous impact on a vast number of industries that goes well beyond the telecommunication industry, the mobile Internet is already having a similar impact in Japan and it is this impact that should be of the greatest concern to Western academics and policy makers. This paper describes the evolution of the mobile Internet in terms of three concepts: the startup problem, standard setting, and mental models. Products in which there is little or no value to the first users due to the existence of strong direct (e.g., telephone) or indirect (complementary products) network effects face a large startup problem (Economides & Himmelberg, 1995). This paper divides the startup problem for the mobile Internet into two stages. Japanese and Korean service providers solved the first startup problem with entertainment content (e.g., ringing tones, screen savers) that was supported by both micro-payment systems and custom phones where the latter enables the consistent display of content across phones. In the micro-payment system, service providers collect content revenues from users via phone bills (after the users have purchased the content on the phone) and the service providers pass on about 90% of the revenues to content providers. The Japanese and Korean service providers were able to obtain phones that display content in a consistent manner because unlike Western service providers, they have always dictated phone specifications to the phone manufacturers (i.e., differences in standard setting) as part of having phones customized for their services (Funk (2003) and Funk (2006); Taplin, 2006). Western service providers were slow to introduce micro-payment systems and entertainment content due to their initial focus on business users, which reflected their mental models. Mental models, which can also be thought of as shared beliefs or values, are typically based on historical experience as opposed to current knowledge of the environment and often prevent the development of new business models or new perceptions of foreign markets. They were slow to obtain phones that display entertainment and other content in a consistent manner because they have historically depended on general purpose phones that are not customized for service providers and the phone manufacturers were unable to agree on content and other standards in the wireless application protocol (WAP) Forum. This failure to agree on standards caused some Western service providers to create their own standards and order custom phones that work with their mobile Internet services (i.e., display content in a consistent manner), beginning in late 2002, which is also when they began introducing micro-payment systems and entertainment content. Defining these standards and responding to them with custom phones requires new skills for Western service providers and manufacturers. Large manufacturers such as Nokia only began supplying these phones after their share of the market began to drop in 2003 (Economist (2004) and Economist (2005)). As for service providers, the largest ones can set these standards and obtain custom phones much easier than smaller ones and thus can use their market power to maintain high prices for SMS and retain most of the content revenues for themselves. Furthermore, the combination of this market power and their mental models discourage the Western service providers from introducing and promoting inexpensive push-based Internet mail and easy access to general Internet sites via the input of a universal resource locator (URL), which are needed to solve the second and most important startup problem. Western service providers have been slow to offer these push-based mail services because they do not believe these services will make up for lost revenues in SMS, which reflects their mental models. A key aspect of these mental models is a belief by Western firms (and even policy makers and academics) that the rapid growth in the Japanese mobile Internet is due to “cultural” factors such as low Internet usage and different methods of commuting. These “cultural” arguments ignore the fact that Western markets have experienced equal if not larger growth rates in messaging and entertainment content. For example, the market for messaging/mail in Europe is larger than the Japanese market on a per subscriber basis (see Tables 2), which suggests there is a greater demand for mobile Internet services in Europe than in Japan. Other portable products like radios, calculators, cassette and CD players, laptops, and even phones diffused very quickly in all advanced countries in particular in those with high penetration rates of their non-portable counterparts. Many Westerners ignore such facts because the initial emphasis on cultural factors by the Western press has made it hard for them to reassess their mental models towards Japan and thus understand the importance of the mobile Internet to economic growth and the factors that support it such as push-based Internet mail and easy access to general Internet sites via the input of a URL. This paper first discusses key concepts like the startup problem, standard setting, and mental models followed by a historical analysis of the mobile Internet including the initial strategies of European and US service providers and manufacturers in WAP, the success of and reactions to i-mode's success, and barriers to expanded services in the West. The paper concludes with a summary of the reasons for the greater success of the mobile Internet in Japan and Korea and needed changes in the Western mobile Internet markets.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper has described the evolution of the mobile Internet in terms of three concepts: the startup problem, standard setting, and mental models. The startup problem is divided into two stages. Entertainment content, its consistent display across phones, and a micro-payment system supported the emergence of a critical mass of users and thus a solution to the first stage of the startup problem. The existence of inexpensive “push-based Internet mail” and of non-entertainment sites that are formatted for the small screen of the phone and easily accessed via Universal Resource Locators (URLs) in this mail solved the second startup problem. 5.1. Reactions to i-mode Initial reactions by other Japanese, Korean, European, and US service providers to the success of i-mode (see Fig. 6) can be classified in terms of their ability to obtain phones that display content in a consistent manner (i.e., standard setting) and their perceived cultural affinity with Japan (i.e., mental models). Japanese and Korean service providers quickly copied the i-mode approach due to their ability to obtain custom phones and their perceived cultural affinity with the Japanese market. And they did this before they realized that consumers were willing to pay much higher prices for messaging/mail and entertainment content than NTT DoCoMo was charging. On the other hand, it has been difficult for Western manufacturers to agree on content display and other mobile Internet standards partly since manufacturers do not want to forgo differentiation, a problem that has occurred in many new industries (Grindley, 1995). In addition, it can be said that the mobile Internet was a form of “architectural” innovation (Henderson & Clark, 1990) that required stronger coordination between the phones and network than was needed in the voice services. The greater control over the phone specifications by the Japanese and Korean service providers enabled them to more effectively provide this coordination than the Western standard setting bodies were able to do. European and US service providers were also slow to copy other aspects of i-mode such as micro-payment systems and entertainment content due to a lack of cultural affinity with the Japanese markets. The Western media and firms initially attributed i-mode's success to unique market conditions thus supporting previous research where historical experience (Kiesler & Sproull, 1982) and a dominant” logic (Kogut, 1992) play key roles in the formation of mental models. The unexpected emergence of a critical mass of SMS users including successful third party services like ringing tones has led to some changes in mental models as shown by the introduction of branded services that include micro-payment systems and entertainment content. Fortunately for the Western service providers, they learned about the value of SMS and entertainment content before they set low prices for SMS and offered most of the revenues to content providers as do Japanese service providers. The ability to maintain high SMS prices and keep most of the content revenues continues to shape their mental models. Furthermore, the fact that the Western media and academic community largely ignore these issues and continue to present the Japanese mobile Internet as a culturally based phenomenon reflects to some extent a continued adherence to the initial mental models. Several Asian service providers have been included in Fig. 6 in order to further demonstrate these concepts. Trains are widely used for commuting in both Japan and these countries thus suggesting that service providers from Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and China would not interpret the success of i-mode in terms of cultural factors, and thus would perceive high potential revenues from the i-mode approach. However, it has been difficult for many of them to obtain custom phones due to their small size (a recent exception is Hong Kong's Hutchison Telecom). It is predicted that local manufacturers will eventually provide many of the custom phones for the Chinese service providers as this country's economy continues to grow. 5.2. A market failure? The greater ability of large service providers to obtain custom phones easier than small service providers enables them to resist introducing a more “open” policy in the form of higher revenue sharing, inexpensive push-based Internet mail services, and greater promotion of site access via the input of a URL or bookmark. Even if small service providers offer a more “open” policy, large service providers can use their advantages in obtaining custom phones to resist becoming more “open.” In some ways, the mobile Internet resembles that of the PC Internet in the late 1990s. Countries such as Germany, France, and Japan were slow to introduce competition in their telecommunication sectors and thus experienced a slower diffusion of Internet usage than in the US (Waesche, 2002; Kogut, 2003). In the mobile Internet, it is the advantages that large service providers have in obtaining custom phones that reduces the competition in the market. The major difference between the PC and mobile Internet is the need for custom devices in the mobile Internet and thus differences in standard setting between Japan, Korea, and other countries have impacted on growth rates only in the mobile Internet. The PC was a data device before the Internet started and most software standards for handling data in the network and on the PC were established long before large incumbents realized that the Internet was an important market (Kogut, 2003; Waesche, 2002). It is possible that Western service providers will not introduce a more “open” policy until they are forced to do so by new entrants or by governments. Most accounts of the computer industry suggest that incumbents such as IBM and DEC may never have introduced PCs if new entrants had not done so (Christensen, 1997). In the mobile Internet, new licenses or new technologies like WiFi ((Lehr & McKnight, 2003) might cause changes but the investments are large and it will be hard for them to obtain phones that display content in a consistent manner. Governments could apply the concept of universal access to mobile Internet mail, micro-payment systems, and Internet access via URLs on mobile phones just as they have applied the concept of universal access to wireline telephones (Mueller, 1997). For example, governments could require mobile service providers to provide push-based Internet mail services at reasonable prices, to promote easy access to Internet sites via URLs, and to provide greater revenue sharing with content providers. Just as easy access to Internet mail and sites on PCs has been seen as a prerequisite to economic growth since the late 1990s in most advanced countries, the time has probably been reached for countries to consider the same arguments for mobile phones.