When I teach marketing strategy I always talk about how Japan used to borrow the Western technology, turn it into a smaller , cheaper and more marketable products and sell it back to the Western world. Now it is totally the opposite… Companies like Apple take Japanese technology (e.g. toshiba transistors, chips) make more marketible producst out of it and sell back to Japan with a price tag 10 times higher than they pay to Japanese semiconductor companies. (For each Iphone sold Japanese companies get $35 while the cost of the Iphone to Japanese mobile carriers is around $180). What is more, Apple makes more than $500 million in Japan alone, and Apple’s revenues in this country grew almost 80% every year in the recent past, ouch!!! not a good sign for the once mighty electronics capital of the world. There is also the WOW factor: when I carry my ipad with me , many Japanese say “woww ipad,” I never heard a Japanese saying “woww sony…”
Anyways, today I was at the Yodobashi Camera (one of the largest electronics retailers in Japan) and encountered this nice looking tablet under the brand name Onkyo. Everyone knows Onkyo and their sound systems, but this time Onkyo got into computer eelectronics and honestly did a pretty damn good job. The tablets were light, slick, aesthetically pleasing and reasonably priced. But wait a minute, there were 3 different models. No no wait, these did not have simple OS like ipad, XOOM or Galaxy, these were normal computers where you can do everything from visual basic programming to preparing your business presentation on ppt. I wished Onkyo released these products 3 months ago when I ended up getting my ipad . I am deeply disappointed because I can do nothing with the device except playing angrybirds and watching youtube. When I was in the market for a tablet computer I desperately needed a Windows OS light computer which I can carry with me on the train etc. But here we go again, Onkyo released these computers 7 MONTHS AGO (October, 2010) and officially announced the release MORE THAN A YEAR AGO . They did not bother to advertise and noone knew….
The computers were displayed in the most remote section of Yodobashi, there was no Onkyo personnel, the POP were unappealing, the interface was in Japanese. I thought to myself, this is a recipe for failure…the company apprently spent millions of dollars developing these gadgets but does not want to spend any money to market it or install English OS to make it the worlds first brand name Windows tablet. People all around the world excitedly have been waiting for Windows 7 tablets and guess where Onkyo is keeping them: in the basement of Yodobashi… In my opinion, Onkyo Windows Tablet campaign exemplifies the lackluster marketing efforts of Japanese electronics companies and very well explains why now it is more difficult for these companies to make it in the international arena unlike what we are used to see in the 80s…
Note: The company currently has been collaborating with E-Mobile, although, main e-mobile booth has other netbooks and the consumers cannot find out about Onkyo tablets unless they specifically ask for them.