Tag Archives: Japan

Does going viral on Twitter actually drive purchase?


In Japan, Glico has conducted a campaign naming Nov 11 as “The Day of Pocky” since two consecutive 11 numbers looks similar to the visual of four Pockies. They have urged people to tweet on Nov 11 with the keyword of “Pocky” to achieve the status of “the most tweeted brand within 24 hours” in Guinness record.

Tweet visual saying “Congrats for 3710044 tweets!”

With the efforts of driving this with promo-tweet, they successfully got 371,0044 tweets and officially certified as Guinness record. Such “The Day of Pocky” was started in 1999 (so long ago!) and they were successful in creating another day in the year to have sales spike other than Valentine’s Day (and White Day when guys give gift back to girls in return of Valentine’s Day).

What Twitter Japan is claiming now in its recent post is; those who purchased Pocky on Nov 11 is outstandingly higher (4 times more than previous week’s average) among Twitter users (in blue) than among non-Twitter users (in gray) presumably as a effect of exposing tweets about The Day of Pocky.

# of Pocky Purchasers per 10,000 people (Gray is Twitter non-users, Blue is Twitter users)

Also, the claim; not only among those people who actually tweeted about Pocky, but also among those people who just “saw” Pocky tweet had higher chance of purchasing Pocky. (The left group is those who didn’t see Pocky tweet, the center group is those who saw Pocky tweet and the right group is those who tweeted about Pocky; everything is the comparison between pre-campaign and post-campaign.)

% of Pocky purchase in past 1 week (Gray is pre-campaign, Blue is post campaign)

While above data still has a room for further analysis, we can probably admit that 1) artificially creating campaign for the brand works, 2) driving tweet for one specific event would indirectly drive purchase. Often times, social media does not have clear answer to its ROI and just because of that, it is often hard to rationalize investment. However, this learning would definitely a starting point of quantifying social media’s business contribution.

Especially given the Twitter popularity in Japan, this is a positive learning to reapply!

Reference: https://blog.twitter.com/ja/2014/tuitonokuo-san-hashi-ji-nigou-mai-wocu-jin-saserukotogadekirunoka

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Sony hopes for music service upswing as it sells 5.3M PS4s


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http://gigaom.com/2014/02/18/sony-hopes-for-music-service-upswing-as-it-sells-5-3m-ps4s/

PS4-unboxed
Summary:Sony is launching the PS4 in Japan this week, and the company hopes that video gamers there will also try out its music service.

Sony has sold 5.3 million PS4s since it first introduced the game console in November of 2013, and now it’s hoping that all those new PS4 owners won’t just play games with the device.

Sony has especially high hopes for its music subscription service, dubbed Sony Music Unlimited. The Spotify competitor may not be very well known outside the Sony universe, but Anu Kirk, director of music services at Sony Entertainment, told me recently that the service has seen some significant usage uptick since the PS4 launch. PS4 users were responsible for 38 percent of all streams in January, Kirk said.

Kirk also told me that Sony Music Unlimited’s subscriber growth rate more than doubled since the launch of the PS4, but declined to comment on how many subscribers the service currently has. In the U.S., Sony’s service is believed to be far behind competitors like Spotify and Muve Music.

However, the situation is a bit different in Japan, where Spotify and others haven’t launched yet, making Sony the only major international subscription service. That’s why the company has high hopes for the launch of the PS4 in Japan next weekend, with Kirk telling me that his team has been preparing to bring music subscriptions to all those Japanese gamers as well.

The key here is to understand the local market, which is very different from other countries. “People listen to a lot more local music in Japan,” he said.

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How Frontback Is Getting Popular in Japan


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While today’s update is a significant one for photo-sharing app Frontback, something unexpected is happening as well — Frontback is blowing up in Japan, China and Brazil. In fact, the app is now more popular in these countries than in the U.S.

“In the U.S., people are using Frontback for important events like the Superbowl to make a statement and share what they are doing,” co-founder and CEO Frédéric della Faille told me in a phone interview. “In Japan, people found a way to express themselves through the app, and it’s very different,” he continued.

A Frontback post is a very restrictive form of expression. In some way, taking a Frontback is the visual equivalent of writing a Haiku. There are some artistic rules that you need to follow — it’s short and self-contained. But after that, the sky is the limit.

In Japan, the community has recently decided to self-organize. On February 24, there will be a Japan Frontback meetup. One of the attendees will be Himesora, a Frontback power user who really took advantage of the platform.

She loves art, cartoons and graffiti. She always carries with her a binder with fake paper eyes. Every time she wants to take a Frontback, she pulls the appropriate pair of cartoon eyes and put them on her glasses. In other words, she has created a character for Frontback. You can see the result at the top of this article.

And with the global feed, people all around the world noticed her. They started interacting with her. In the U.S., Mexico and South America, Frontback users have engaged with Himesora — they reply using selfies and captions.

Frontback Community 2

“The non-product team is composed of two persons right now, that’s a quarter of the team,” della Faille said. “We are realizing that when you are dealing with a public graph, you need to provide inspiration to fight timidity. That’s why we are doing staff picks as well. We want to show the true face of the world, with a smile.”

Other users are using Frontback for very specific purposes. For example, Tamkai transforms his daily life into drawings. Willie Myers wants to tell stories using only two pictures.

While Frontback created a new medium, the team is only realizing now the power of this photo format.

“There is something deeply personal about the experience sharing and viewing community member profiles daily in the public space,” community manager Elissa Patel wrote in an email. “All of these photos fall into the category of no filter, no cropping, no photoshop — real people with real stories.”

Frontback Meetup

http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/13/how-frontback-is-getting-popular-in-japan/

The Past, The Future & What This Means For Our Developing World.


Peter Thiel SXSW

There are four quadrants used to organize the past and the future views of the developing world.  These quadrants are optimistic, pessimistic, determinate and indeterminate.

optimistic139009150158316

China is currently thought to be pessimistic/determinate meaning it has a clear view of where it would like to be in twenty years but at the same time China is worried about whether or not they will get there in this modern time frame.  China is more likely to save money, then invest money over the next few decades.

“China will be a somewhat poorer version of the developed world, people will become old before they become rich”  –  Peter Thiel, Co-founder, PayPal.

America is thought to have fell in to a quadrant called indeterminate optimism.  Presently, the United States is believed to have both a low amount of investment and a low amount of saving, this is arguably the most unstable position for a country to be in.

“One of the strange things about indeterminate optimism is that its the quadrant that has low savings and low investment.  Is it possible for the future to be better when no one saves and no one invests? Because no one is thinking and everyone is outsourcing all of the thinking to other people.”  –  Peter Thiel, Co-Founder, PayPal.

Both Japan and Europe are thought to be indeterminate/pessimistic meaning the future does not look bright and no body is sure what to do about it.

Asian shares tumble to three-week low on China services PMI


By Dominic Lau

TOKYO Mon Jan 6, 2014 2:11am EST

1 of 7. A man walks against strong wind and rain in front of a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo October 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

(Reuters) – Asian shares fell to a three-week low on Monday after growth in China’s services sector slowed sharply last month, raising concerns about the pace of recovery in the world’s second-largest economy, while safe-haven gold climbed.

The dollar hovered near a four-week high, supported by an upbeat outlook for the U.S. economy from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that supported expectations of faster stimulus reduction by the U.S. central bank.

British, German and French shares .FTSE .GDAXI .FCHI were expected to open steady to modestly softer, according to financial bookmakers.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS shed 0.8 percent, reaching a three-week low and adding to a 1.1 percent drop on Friday. The gauge lost 1.7 percent last year, sharply underperforming U.S., Japanese and European stocks.

China’s CSI300 index .CSI300 sagged 2.3 percent, hitting a five-month low after the HSBC/Markit services sector Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 50.9 in December from 52.5 in the previous month, with new business expansion the slowest in six months. [ID:nB9N0JK02G] The Chinese index is down 3.9 percent since the start of the year, adding to last year’s 7.6 percent decline.

“The focal point of the Asian markets is more on Chinese growth and on Chinese political situation and how it’s going to pan out this year, rather than worrying about how tapering will affect Asia specifically,” said Guy Stear, Asian credit and equity strategist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong, referring to the manufacturing PMI released last week.

South Korea’s won hit a near six-week low of 1,067.7 to a dollar on China slowdown fears.

Driven by heightened political uncertainty ahead of next month’s general election, the Thai baht fell to a near four-year trough of 33.11 per dollar and Thai stocks .SETI dropped 1.1 percent after earlier falling by as much as 1.6 percent to touch a 16-month low.

In terms of valuations, Thai equities were relatively expensive, with the 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 11.9, slightly ahead of a five-year average of 11.4 and the MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan’s 11.7, Thomson Reuters Datastream data showed.

ROUGH START FOR NIKKEI

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 stumbled 2.4 percent, marking its worst one-day fall in two months, in the first trading day of 2014. The benchmark jumped 57 percent last year to log its best annual rise since 1972 on the back of massive fiscal and monetary stimulus.

As Japanese equities took a beating, the yen got some respite against the dollar, up 0.6 percent at 104.28 yen, not far from a two-week high of 104.08 yen touched last Friday.

Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar .DXY added 0.1 percent to near a four-week high set on Friday, helped by Bernanke’s comments.

Bernanke, who steps down as head of the Fed at month’s end, gave an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy in coming quarters, but he tempered the good news in housing, finance and fiscal policies by repeating that the overall recovery “clearly remains incomplete”.

U.S. stocks ended last week slightly weaker, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 .SPX down 0.5 percent for the week after it jumped 30 percent in 2013. .N

U.S. JOBS, ECB THIS WEEK

Friday’s nonfarm payrolls data will give further clues as to how well the U.S. economy is recovering and how fast the Fed will unwind its stimulus campaign, which has been a major driver for global assets in the past few years.

“With the Fed having set the tapering process in motion, it would likely take a fairly significant miss to derail tapering expectations and push yields significantly lower from their year-end levels,” analysts at BNP Paribas wrote in a note.

“Against this backdrop, the dollar is likely to remain generally well-supported this week, particularly versus the lower-yielding G10 currencies,” they added.

Before the jobs report on Friday, investors will focus on the minutes of the Fed’s December policy meeting, due out on Jan 8, and the European Central Bank’s policy gathering on Thursday.

The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.3579, building on the previous session’s 0.6 percent decline.

Among commodities, gold advanced 0.4 percent a near three-week high of about $1,241 an ounce, heading for a fifth day of gains. The precious metal suffered a 28 percent slump in 2013, its worst yearly performance since 1981, largely due to the Fed’s plan to unwind its stimulus program.

U.S. crude futures edged up 0.1 percent to just above $94 a barrel, coming off a four-week low set on Friday after data showed a larger-than-expected build in distillates.

(Additional reporting by Lisa Twaronite in Tokyo and Jongwoo Cheon in Singapore; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Eric Meijer)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/06/us-markets-global-idUSBRE96S00E20140106

Asia shares roiled by risk aversion; gold gains


By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY Thu Jan 2, 2014 9:36pm EST

An office worker walks past the board of the Australian Securities Exchange building displaying its logo in central Sydney April 5, 2013. REUTERS-Daniel Munoz
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, December 27, 2013. REUTERS-Carlo Allegri
A pedestrian holding an umbrella walks past an electronic board displaying graphs of the recenent movement of Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo December 19, 2013. REUTERS-Yuya Shino

1 of 5. An office worker walks past the board of the Australian Securities Exchange building displaying its logo in central Sydney April 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Daniel Munoz

(Reuters) – Asian share markets were under water on Friday after a sudden reversal in some very popular, and thus crowded, trades sparked a bout of global risk aversion.

The net result was a pullback in the euro, sterling, and stocks and a bounce for the yen, gold and bonds. Oil prices had also taken a spill, though for purely idiosyncratic reasons.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS shed a sharp 1.3 percent, with markets from Shanghai to Sydney all in the red.

The various moves seemed divorced from the news flow, which was mostly upbeat with global manufacturing ending 2013 on a strong note as the United States, Japan and Germany all saw demand pick up. <TOP/CEN>

The fly in the ointment was China where a measure of activity in the services sector eased back in December, just as one for manufacturing had on Thursday.

The next hurdle later Friday will be a spate of speeches from top Federal Reserve policy makers, including outgoing Chairman Ben Bernanke. Any comments on the outlook for tapering could affect market sentiment.

On Thursday, the Dow .DJI had ended down 0.82 percent while the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.89 percent. MSCI’s 45-country share index .MIWD00000PUS slipped 1 percent.

Anxious eyes were fixed on Thailand after the stock market sank over 5 percent .SETI on Thursday amid deepening political uncertainty. The Thai currency also took a bath, hitting its lowest since early 2010 at 33.03 per dollar.

Shares in South Korea .KS11 lost another 1.2 percent, though there the problem was one of a strong won and a weak yen undermining the competitiveness of the country’s huge export companies.

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) was down over 1 percent, on top of a 5 percent decline on Thursday, and at its lowest since August.

The country’s Finance Minister, Hyun Oh-seok, reiterated that they were closely watching the won and the ongoing depreciation of the yen, but went no further than that.

EURO SETBACK

In currencies, the euro took a spill as speculators booked profits on long positions after a strong 2013. The single currency was stuck at $1.3657 after shedding a full cent overnight.

The same forces gripped sterling, another strong performer in recent months. The pound peeled away to $1.6441 from a 28-month peak of $1.6605.

That in turn lifted the U.S. dollar index, a gauge of the greenback’s value against six major currencies, by the most in five months. On Friday, the index was at 80.595 .DXY compared to a trough of 80.083 the day before.

Going the other way, the yen enjoyed a short-covering bounce. Borrowing in yen to buy higher yielding assets has been a vastly popular trade, leaving the market vulnerable to sudden, if usually brief, reversals.

In this case the dollar came off to 104.65 yen after being as high as 105.44, its strongest level since October 2008. Likewise, the euro retreated to 143.00 yen from a peak of 145.12 on Thursday.

The short-covering theme extended to U.S. Treasury debt, which has been under pressure for pretty much all of the past two months. Yields on the 10-year note dipped to 2.99 percent from a top of 3.04 percent, which had been the highest since mid-2011.

Gold was another beaten-down asset to get a reprieve. The metal swung up to $1,229.84 having been as low as $1,183.80 early in the week. <GOL/>

Oil prices steadied after taking a fall on Thursday as Libya prepared to restart a major oilfield and on speculation of a sharp rise in crude stockpiles in the United States.

Brent crude edged up 32 cents to $108.10 a barrel but that followed a drop of $2.98 on Thursday. U.S. crude was up 20 cents at $95.64, having shed almost $5 the day before.

(Editing by Eric Meijer)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/03/us-markets-global-idUSBRE96S00E20140103

What Product Managers can learn from Jiro Ono


Jiro ono of jiro dreams of sushi

Jiro ono of jiro dreams of sushi

Hiring, quality assurance and leadership.

This post is part of the ‘What Product Managers can learn from …’ series. It is also published in the Startup Edition.

Just recently I re-watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a wonderful documentary about Jiro Ono, an 85 year old sushi chef from Japan who leads a tiny 8 seat sushi bar located in a Tokyo subway station. It repeatedly got awarded with 3 out of 3 Michelin stars and is known as the best place in the world to get sushi.

I first stumbled upon the documentary a few months back when Jason Evanish published his own recommendation. Since then I’ve seen it a couple of times on various occasions and it always is a true joy to watch.

I believe as Product Managers we all can learn a lot from Jiro, especially when it comes to hard nuts to crack like hiring, quality assurance and leadership …

Strive for Perfection

Who defines when something is ‘good enough’? Who cares?

We live in a world of ‘good enough’. People talk about diminishing returns, finding the sweet spot and 80/20.

We easily forget that in order to create something that truly stands out and delights customers it takes vision, passion and standards that are way beyond ‘standard’.

I would make sushi in my dreams. — Jiro Ono

Often you will have to set your own standards since ‘industry standard’ or being ‘better than the competition’ will cause you to aim way lower than you could.

I feel this is the reason why sometimes whole industries get disrupted by people who are ‘outsiders’ that naively expected way more than anyone of the incumbents was used to deliver.

Set your own standards and live by them. Push the boundaries. Lead by example.

If it doesn’t taste good, you can’t serve it. — Jiro Ono

I’m not surprised that everyone I know is drawn to the companies that produce the best products. Who cares about companies that do mediocre work? I don’t even want to imagine how hard it must be for these companies to attract talent.

Own your Mistakes

A brief conversation about the ideal thinness of a slice

If you carefully watch the interactions and incredibly tight feedback loops of his team you will find that every time someone points out what could have been done better it is acknowledged and immediately executed. No arguing, no rationalization attempts, no excuses.

His team is as motivated to strive for perfection as Jiro himself. If a shortcoming is discovered you will hear a short hai (yes, I understand) and people are back in the flow, striving to do better.

I believe it is an art to separate your own ego from the work you are doing. This is related to something I found in the Heroku values

Strong opinions, weakly held. — Bob Johansen, IFTF Distinguished Fellow

On the one hand you want to be passionate about what you are doing but on the other hand you don’t want to let your ego get in the way of a better solution. You don’t win by being right all the time, you win by identifying things that are great wherever they came from.

Manage Expectations

Jiro’s staff working with dedication. Like a clockwork.

If you apply for a job at Jiro’s sushi bar you know what you are getting yourself into. It will take about 10 years of dedicated work until you’ll be allowed to cook tamagoyaki (egg sushi). It takes a long time of training and personal growth until Jiro considers you a shokunin (master craftsman).

It seems like Jeff Bezos of Amazon also isn’t shy about communicating his expectations

You can work long, hard, or smart, but at Amazon.com you can’t choose two out of three. — Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon

This is what he told potential recruits back in 1997. In the middle of the dot-com bubble where hiring top talent was extremely difficult and in a climate where other companies were offering ridiculous employee perks.

Taste your own Cooking

Jiro’s staff tasting their own sushi of the day.

Jiro and his staff are constantly preparing and tasting their ingredients and final products. Every day, many times a day.

Eating your own dog food is a great way to get into the shoes of your customers. Many software companies test-drive preview versions of their products internally and or with a tiny fraction of their customer base before they release the changes to everyone.

It is hard to assure quality if you don’t care about how your own food tastes like. Caring more than others is a real competitive advantage. Ingrained in the company culture and incredibly hard to copy.

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo even refused to get broadband installed at home until the majority of US households got it in order to get an authentic experience of the products she was responsible for (back then at Google).

Your Suppliers are Part of your Team

The local fish market, an essential supplier that enables the quality Jiro strives for.

It makes a lot of sense to regard your suppliers as part of your team. Whether it is the local fish market that enables Jiro to serve the highest quality sushi that is available or the programming languages, libraries and 3rd party services and platforms you use to build and deliver your product.

Companies like Apple take this to the extreme. They tightly work together with their suppliers to help them succeed. Tim Cook ,who led Apple’s operations for many years has built one of the most impressive supply chains of the IT world. Whether it is gorilla glass, CPUs, memory or other essential parts, Apple’s focus on healthy supply chain relationships is one of the reasons they are able to create the products people fall in love with.

Conclusion

Jiro’s infinite passion about creating the perfect sushi is what drives all of the observations I made. Whether it is tightly controlling the supply chain, choosing to only work with the best people (whether that means his staff or his suppliers) or his obsession about helping people grow and enabling them to do their best — Passion is his fuel.

If you find something you really care about, other things tend to fall into place. In the end everyone cares about great products & passion — customers, partners, investors, potential hires and employees.

If you found this post helpful you might want to follow me on twitter where I tweet about Software Development & Product Management :)

Written by

Co-founder, CEO & Product at @blossom_io

Published September 3, 2013Jiro ono of jiro dreams of sushi

Jiro ono of jiro dreams of sushi

What Product Managers can learn from Jiro Ono

Hiring, quality assurance and leadership.

This post is part of the ‘What Product Managers can learn from …’ series. It is also published in the Startup Edition.

Just recently I re-watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a wonderful documentary about Jiro Ono, an 85 year old sushi chef from Japan who leads a tiny 8 seat sushi bar located in a Tokyo subway station. It repeatedly got awarded with 3 out of 3 Michelin stars and is known as the best place in the world to get sushi.

I first stumbled upon the documentary a few months back when Jason Evanish published his own recommendation. Since then I’ve seen it a couple of times on various occasions and it always is a true joy to watch.

I believe as Product Managers we all can learn a lot from Jiro, especially when it comes to hard nuts to crack like hiring, quality assurance and leadership …

Strive for Perfection

Who defines when something is ‘good enough’? Who cares?

We live in a world of ‘good enough’. People talk about diminishing returns, finding the sweet spot and 80/20.

We easily forget that in order to create something that truly stands out and delights customers it takes vision, passion and standards that are way beyond ‘standard’.

I would make sushi in my dreams. — Jiro Ono

Often you will have to set your own standards since ‘industry standard’ or being ‘better than the competition’ will cause you to aim way lower than you could.

I feel this is the reason why sometimes whole industries get disrupted by people who are ‘outsiders’ that naively expected way more than anyone of the incumbents was used to deliver.

Set your own standards and live by them. Push the boundaries. Lead by example.

If it doesn’t taste good, you can’t serve it. — Jiro Ono

I’m not surprised that everyone I know is drawn to the companies that produce the best products. Who cares about companies that do mediocre work? I don’t even want to imagine how hard it must be for these companies to attract talent.

Own your Mistakes

A brief conversation about the ideal thinness of a slice

If you carefully watch the interactions and incredibly tight feedback loops of his team you will find that every time someone points out what could have been done better it is acknowledged and immediately executed. No arguing, no rationalization attempts, no excuses.

His team is as motivated to strive for perfection as Jiro himself. If a shortcoming is discovered you will hear a short hai (yes, I understand) and people are back in the flow, striving to do better.

I believe it is an art to separate your own ego from the work you are doing. This is related to something I found in the Heroku values

Strong opinions, weakly held. — Bob Johansen, IFTF Distinguished Fellow

On the one hand you want to be passionate about what you are doing but on the other hand you don’t want to let your ego get in the way of a better solution. You don’t win by being right all the time, you win by identifying things that are great wherever they came from.

Manage Expectations

Jiro’s staff working with dedication. Like a clockwork.

If you apply for a job at Jiro’s sushi bar you know what you are getting yourself into. It will take about 10 years of dedicated work until you’ll be allowed to cook tamagoyaki (egg sushi). It takes a long time of training and personal growth until Jiro considers you a shokunin (master craftsman).

It seems like Jeff Bezos of Amazon also isn’t shy about communicating his expectations

You can work long, hard, or smart, but at Amazon.com you can’t choose two out of three. — Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon

This is what he told potential recruits back in 1997. In the middle of the dot-com bubble where hiring top talent was extremely difficult and in a climate where other companies were offering ridiculous employee perks.

Taste your own Cooking

Jiro’s staff tasting their own sushi of the day.

Jiro and his staff are constantly preparing and tasting their ingredients and final products. Every day, many times a day.

Eating your own dog food is a great way to get into the shoes of your customers. Many software companies test-drive preview versions of their products internally and or with a tiny fraction of their customer base before they release the changes to everyone.

It is hard to assure quality if you don’t care about how your own food tastes like. Caring more than others is a real competitive advantage. Ingrained in the company culture and incredibly hard to copy.

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo even refused to get broadband installed at home until the majority of US households got it in order to get an authentic experience of the products she was responsible for (back then at Google).

Your Suppliers are Part of your Team

The local fish market, an essential supplier that enables the quality Jiro strives for.

It makes a lot of sense to regard your suppliers as part of your team. Whether it is the local fish market that enables Jiro to serve the highest quality sushi that is available or the programming languages, libraries and 3rd party services and platforms you use to build and deliver your product.

Companies like Apple take this to the extreme. They tightly work together with their suppliers to help them succeed. Tim Cook ,who led Apple’s operations for many years has built one of the most impressive supply chains of the IT world. Whether it is gorilla glass, CPUs, memory or other essential parts, Apple’s focus on healthy supply chain relationships is one of the reasons they are able to create the products people fall in love with.

Conclusion

Jiro’s infinite passion about creating the perfect sushi is what drives all of the observations I made. Whether it is tightly controlling the supply chain, choosing to only work with the best people (whether that means his staff or his suppliers) or his obsession about helping people grow and enabling them to do their best — Passion is his fuel.

If you find something you really care about, other things tend to fall into place. In the end everyone cares about great products & passion — customers, partners, investors, potential hires and employees.

If you found this post helpful you might want to follow me on twitter where I tweet about Software Development & Product Management :)

Written by

 

Japan mid-tier camera makers face shakeout as smartphones shatter mirrorless hopes


By Sophie Knight and Reiji Murai

TOKYO Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:20pm EST

A model poses with Nikon Corp's new Nikon 1 J1 camera at its unveiling ceremony in Tokyo, in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS-Kim Kyung-Hoon-Files
Olympus Corp's President Hiroyuki Sasa poses with his company's new OM-D E-M1 digital camera during its unveiling in Tokyo in this September 10, 2013 file photo. REUTERS-Toru Hanai-Files

1 of 2. A model poses with Nikon Corp’s new Nikon 1 J1 camera at its unveiling ceremony in Tokyo, in this September 21, 2011 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Files

(Reuters) – Panasonic Corp and Japan’s other mid-tier camera makers have a battle on their hands to win over a smartphone “selfie” generation to mirrorless cameras that held such promise when they were launched around five years ago.

Panasonic, like peers Fujifilm Holdings and Olympus Corp, has been losing money on its cameras since mobile phones that take high-quality photos ate into the compact camera business. This year, compact camera sales are likely to fall more than 40 percent to fewer than 59 million, according to industry researcher IDC.

Meanwhile, sales of mirrorless cameras – seen as a promising format between low-end compacts and high-end single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras – are sputtering as buyers put connectivity above picture quality.

A 40 percent drop in Panasonic’s overall camera sales in April-September left the imaging division vulnerable as the company’s mid-term plan to March 2016 demands unprofitable businesses turn themselves around or face the axe.

“If you look mid-to-long term, digital camera makers are slipping and the market is becoming an oligopoly,” said Credit Suisse imaging analyst Yu Yoshida.

Panasonic held 3.1 percent of the camera market in July-September, down from 3.8 percent a year earlier, according to IDC. Canon Inc, Nikon Corp and Sony Corp controlled over 60 percent between them.

“Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last – and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfil that criteria,” added Yoshida.

Canon and Nikon dominate the SLR camera market, while Sony could survive any shakeout thanks to its strength in making sensors for a number of camera manufacturers as well as collaboration with its smartphone division.

SPUTTERING MIRRORLESS

Panasonic, Fujifilm and Olympus are trying to fend off the smartphone threat by cutting compacts, targeting niche markets such as deep-sea diving, and launching the higher-margin mirrorless models.

The mirrorless format promised mid-tier makers an area of growth as the dominance of Canon and Nikon all but shut them out of SLRs, where Sony is a distant third. Neither Panasonic nor Fujifilm makes SLRs, and Olympus stopped developing them this year.

Mirrorless cameras such as Panasonic’s Lumix GM eliminate the internal mirrors that optical viewfinders depend on, so users compose images via electronic viewfinders or liquid crystal displays. This allows the camera to be smaller than an SLR, while offering better quality than compacts or smartphones due to larger sensors and interchangeable lenses.

“SLRs are heavy and noisy, whereas mirrorless are small and quiet. While some people say SLRs still have better image quality, mirrorless (cameras) have improved to the point where they’re equivalent, if not superior,” said Hiroshi Tanaka, director of Fujifilm’s optical division.

Critics grumble that LCD screens can never compete with the clarity of an optical viewfinder, and that picture-taking speeds are too slow for fast-action subjects such as sports.

Nevertheless, the mirrorless format has been a hit in Japan since Panasonic launched the first domestically produced model in 2008, the G1. They made up 36 percent of Japan’s interchangeable lens camera shipments in January-October, according to researcher CIPA.

But the format is yet to catch on in the United States and Europe, where shipments made up just 10.5 percent and 11.2 percent of all interchangeable camera shipments, respectively, and where consumers tend to equate image quality with size and heft.

Sales, which globally are less than a quarter of those of SLRs, fell by a fifth in the three weeks to December 14 in the United States, which included the busy ‘Black Friday’ shopping week, while SLR sales rose 1 percent, according to NPD, another industry researcher.

“I would focus on the detachable lens market proper, excluding mirrorless, and focus on connectivity,” said Ben Arnold, director of imaging analysis at NPD. “How do you bridge that gap between high photo-capture quality and high-quality camera devices and the cloud where every amateur photographer’s images live?”

SMARTPHONE COMPROMISE

Panasonic, Olympus and Fujifilm do not yet have a definitive answer.

Consumers don’t want to connect cameras to phones, analysts say; they want a single interface that can instantly upload photographs to social networking sites such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc.

Sony’s compromise is its two QX lenses released this quarter. These come with their own sensors and processors, and clip onto smartphones through which the user operates them wirelessly. They are pocket-sized and produce photographs of a quality rivaling that of a compact camera.

“There was a lot of internal disagreement over the product. It’s the kind of product you either love or hate,” said Shigeki Ishizuka, president of Sony’s digital imaging business.

But Sony appears to have connected with consumers as demand soon outstripped production. Some are even using the lenses in a way Sony didn’t intend: placed at a distance while they press the shutter on their smartphone to take self-portraits, or selfies.

“We had no idea how much the QX would sell initially when we put it out. We didn’t set any targets,” said Ishizuka.

It is little surprise Sony was the camera maker to break the mould as it is the only one to also have a profitable smartphone division.

“There are so many consumers that were hungry for Sony to do this,” said Chris Chute, IDC’s digital imaging research director. “They’ve (waited for Sony) to come out with something really innovative, almost like the Walkman (portable music player).”

(Editing by Christopher Cushing and Edmund Klamann)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/29/us-japan-cameras-idUSBRE9BS0CC20131229

 

Perfect Is Dead – Design Lessons From The Uncarved Block


There is a concept in Chinese Taoism called pu 樸, the uncarved block. The common image is of a block of stone in its rough, natural state, untouched by human hands. Anyone who has spent time in the mountains knows the severe sculptural beauty of rock shaped by glacial ice and tectonic movement over aeons. Each irregular hulk of granite decorating the mountain’s skirts, seemingly unremarkable and inert, is yet alive with the sort of unfussy artistry only nature can achieve. Look closely. A million snowy nights are etched into its surface and still it’s a work-in-progress, shaped by wind, ice, and stone. Such forms are the work of no mind and can only be created this way.

A training exercise in Japanese sumi-e ink brush painting is to deliberately apply dots of ink to a blank page without making a pattern; that is, as patternless as the mountain’s scattered stones. You soon realize this is humanly impossible, revealing something fundamental about the human mind: anything we create deliberately will have a pattern, a conceptual order. We can’t help it. It’s how we are.

Perhaps if I work at it for years, the sumi-e master can teach me to quiet my mind until my brush moves as unselfconsciously as a bird darts from branch to branch. But here and now, ink brush in hand, paused at the foot of the mountain, I wonder: what can the uncarved block teach me about the creativity of no mind when I can’t seem to keep mine quiet?

Embracing Imperfect

Kawai Kanjiro (1890-1966) was a Japanese ceramics master, whose pottery designs embodied the elusive aesthetic principle of wabi sabi. Kanjiro-sensei once defined wabi sabi as “ordered poverty,” as if to say: in an unadorned room with few possessions, the beauty of simple objects is vastly magnified.

More generally, wabi sabi is an attitude towards one’s craft that embraces imperfection. There is something delightfully indecent about the rough-hewn, lop-sided form of a Japanese chawan (tea bowl) that reminds one of the uncarved block of granite, or the pockmarked face and body of a portly old man. With pottery, as with people, imperfection lends character, memorability, one-of-a-kind-ness.

Japanese-style tea bowl (Michael Simmons)

For wabi sabi practitioners, perfection is a head trip, separating you from the innate intelligence of your handiwork. Perfect symmetry and exact geometry are the Platonic territory of rationality and machine-manufacturing, ultimate expressions of abstract thinking. While we may appreciate exactitude with the part of ourselves that delights in formal pattern, there is an unappreciated corollary to perfection: a perfect form is dead. It has no room to grow, move, stretch, or transform, because any change spells a deviation from perfection. Perfection is rigid, stultifying to innovation, end-all-be-all, boring.

Imperfect form is alive, in flux, starts arguments, and raises questions: the deliberately accidental effect of ink running down a page, the strangely askew belly of a Japanese tea bowl — hell, the way this article’s text and images flow to fit a window of any size trades pixel-perfect layout for something that can live on anyone’s screen. It’s not so different from the tea bowl that looks different from every angle, which is why one turns it round and round in admiration during a tea ceremony. Even machine-made objects and even software, grow thankfully imperfect through human use and habitation, populated by our fingerprints, our breadcrumbs, our content. It’s not so different from the running ink’s patternless pattern, that can never be fully grasped, no matter how long you look; in fact, its pattern will appear to change over time, for you yourself are changing.

Your best work, wisest choices, and most graceful moves emerge from moments of no mind.

Lessons for Process

I am not suggesting that anyone put pimples on their user interfaces or give their grids crooked edges. The lessons here are not about finished forms and products; they’re about creative process— the living relationship between you and your work.

  1. We don’t know where inspiration strikes from. That’s exactly the point. Your best work, wisest choices, and most graceful moves emerge from moments of no mind. Often, they are so fleeting you don’t even notice. Your job is to make room for these moments in your life, take notice, and carry forward what arises.
  2. A creative person’s mind naturally seeks perfection; you wouldn’t be doing the work otherwise. Be satisfied with the seeking itself. Your best work is always ahead of you.
  3. Avoid the certain death of perfection: embrace the idea that everything is a prototype. Allow your current work to be alive, open to incremental improvement or radical transformation, as necessary. In holding the very first cardboard and tape mock-up of a product, or the first 30-second pencil sketch of a layout or storyboard, see in it the rough form of the uncarved block. Not embarrassingly imperfect, but unselfconsciously inspired. Alive, going somewhere.

References:

Written by

Rogue poet-scholar, design ethnographer, d·school professor. http://steinbock.org · @dsteinbock

Updated December 8, 2013
Thanks to: Will Rogers

4 Steps Towards An Education Revolution


Put things into context. Look at the world from a different point of view. Mark the ideal and strive towards it.

The curriculum in English class had us decode the methods of developing a character or a paragraph so that I could come to appreciate written English. Not once did it have us practice them.

Our math class last year gave me the opportunity to deposit mathematics in my brain like money in a bank. So that one day when I grow up, I don’t have to Google a point of intersection calculator or look up the formula for the volume of a sphere.

In geography, we would be taught a curriculum littered with buzzwords like “walkability”, “smart growth”, and “new urbanism”. A course that enlightened us towards the geographical problems facing mankind, but I say that at most it was 2 months of instruction spread thin over 4.

Science class was spent memorizing or understanding, depending on which we preferred, explanations as to why things are the way they are. However, I can’t help but entertain the idea that there were more practical uses of time.

That’s what I remember from Grade 9.

Steve Jobs once said,

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

And that happened to me. I said “no” too many days in a row. And I began to wonder, why “no”? What is it that makes me say “time today isn’t going to be time well spent”? And so I thought about it, and I defined the ideal. The perfect form.

My ideals are simple, but as simple as they may be, they are powerful. Because ideals can only get better. Ideals are bulletproof. They don’t account for economics, they don’t care about politics. They’re not concerned with practicality. Which is why they are inherently perfect.

I’m in high school. I deal with the current situation on a daily basis outside of summer. I see its shortcomings and I dream of what it can be. And so here are my

1. Percent Time

In 1974 at a company called 3M, a scientist by the name of Art Fry invented the post-it note. He made it during his 15% time. Likewise, Gmail and Google Earth were born during Google employees’s 20% time. What is percent time? It’s when employees spend time working on personal projects, done during X% of their time at work. They are paid for the time spent on these projects, and the one requirement is that they make something.

Percent time at school would be a game-changer. It would be spent on some type of documented learning. Accounts of what is done should be kept by the students themselves, in the form of a journal, video blogs, podcasts, etc. And at the end of the year, all the students present what they’ve accomplished. Ungraded. Doing this is something that would have to be initiated by the student. Doing this would require and so teach true initiative, true creativity, because when you’re constantly told to go from A to B at school, or, at best, A to somewhere between B and D, that’s not real initiative. You’re doing it because if you don’t, your teacher and/or your parents will be displeased with you or you’ll be displeased with the number that you get. But real initiative is when there’s a pull factor. You dream of being part of a band, you become part of a band. You wish to learn programming, you go out and you learn programming. Nobody’s forcing you, it’s on your willpower alone that you get somewhere.

2. Building Habits

With today’s always-connected world, today’s noisy world, we are left with little room for reflection. We have so many ways to get distracted. You’ll find us teenagers pulling out our phones and texting or tweeting or updating or messaging or listening to music when we sense we have nothing to do. All of this prevents us from thinking. So what better way to empower the youth of tomorrow than by ingraining in them life-changing habits?

And so school should get us into the habit of thinking. Of reflecting. Of standing up for ourselves. Take a page from Japan’s book and have hourly 5-minute stretching breaks. But most of all, get us to love learning.

Because it is the job of every teacher first and foremost to incite the love of learning, not to relay information from a textbook. Once you’ve gotten that interest or passion in your students, you no longer have kids hoping that time would pass faster or longing to be anywhere but the classroom they’re in. No, you have motivated disciples.

3. Collaboration

Most tests should present a hard question that requires us to build upon the knowledge that we learn in class. Because the notion that tests, in their current form, are an accurate indicator of a student’s understanding is absolutely preposterous. I say that because for the courses I personally find irrelevant, I put everything to short-term memory and call it a day. 6 months later, good luck trying to get me to remember the contents of the course.

So have us be humans. Let us collaborate. You cannot logically argue that we won’t have access to Google in the future. To our friend who might have taken the course already. If Stephen Hawking is in town, and a student can get him to help on a test on theoretical physics, then the student deserves to consult Stephen Hawking about his test. Have a single question to truly differentiate between those who understand and those who merely memorize. A single question that requires students to build upon the foundation of knowledge taught in class, not just remember it.

4. The 15-hour schoolweek

I call for a shorter “school time”. The 27-hour schoolweek can be cut down to 15. The time spent at school should be dedicated to teachers answering questions, discussing about the prior night’s homework. This is the time when students have the chance to intelligently converse with their teachers instead of desperately trying to understand the lesson. How? Because the lesson would have been taught the night before.

One way to do this is through the use of instructional videos, like Khan Academy. When it’s a video teaching you the concepts, you’re not limited by social confines. You’re not afraid about others thinking you’re stupid if you don’t get it. If you’re unsure about something, you just rewind and watch it again. If you already know the concept skip ahead and you’ve got more free time. And so the teacher assigns videos to be watched and homework, should there be any, to be done and ideas to be entertained. The next day concepts can be clarified. Questions can be asked. Unexplored tangents can be explored.

The journey is the key, not the afterthought.

The ideals that are laid by the institutions that make up the education system today turn those who intend to succeed into laborious workhorses. Workhorses stuck in the monotonous, perpetual cycle of homework, extracurriculars, and the race to a job. Because it was promised to them that a job would give them a “life”. But what are they doing now? They’re competing in the race for the most checkmarks and the highest numbers beside their names. In that time, they’re not living. They brag about who slept the least before a test or project was due. In their recess, their recreation time, they’re sitting down doing homework. And once all the boxes have been checked, what they have won’t be a life. Because a life means that you get to live, not survive from 9 to 5.

Checkmarks and numbers don’t reflect you as a person. If that were the case, interviews wouldn’t exist, and the highest academic achievers would always get the position. But interviews do exist, so my message to my peers is to start living. Grades are merely the means to an end. They show that you have absorbed what has been given to you, but not that you’ve done anything with it. If you play the piano, and you learn music theory, then why do anything else but start composing? If you’ve gone to a business class, then start a business. School should make time for this. Promote this. Reward this. And so my message to those writing the curriculum and managing the whole system is:

Give the next generation a better system than the one you’ve given us.


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Kaizen + Clever + Laziness + Eccentric = ?