Principle of internet: "content" come first, "platform" comes next
However, our success was not to last. At one point I thought that the company might collapse, and the reason was the Great East Japan Earthquake. All of our advertising clients left us after the earthquake. Conventional feature phones could not connect to the network. Naver Corporation of South Korea launched LINE soon after, which was developed based on the important lessons learned from the disaster. This is as topic that hasn't yet been subject of a great deal of discussion, but I believe that a major turning point for media in Japan and the start of the smartphone generation was March 11, 2011, the date of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
A great many things were changed by this situation. First, Apple's entry to the market severely disrupted the conventional strongholds of Japanese carriers. Young people who up until that time had been taking advantage of telephone charges that enabled them to download ringtones without being found out by their parents began switching from conventional mobile phones to smartphones after the earthquake, further expanding the influence of the iPhone. I can remember colleagues, junior colleagues and other company presidents trying to reassure me at that time, saying, "Don't worry, even if people switch to smartphones, docomo's d-menu(*6) portal site will still be there". It seemed that no one could break away from the relative comfort of the monthly billing mechanism. But who remembers the successful i-mode content? There was some successful content such as fortune telling and musical ringtones, but a certain listed company ended up going bankrupt and its chairman and president are currently both in jail. The world of content generated for i-mode and companies that provided them have all but disappeared. The smartphone era had arrived, but I had the feeling that focusing on the "platform" in this fast-changing internet industry would be an extremely dangerous strategy. I thought this because of enterprises such as Mixi, Gree and DeNA. Mixi was all the rage eight years ago, so much so that users would say "if you're not on Mixi, you don't have a life!", but that community has all but disappeared now. Gree was said to have exceed the market capitalization of Dentsu, but now makes losses every month. DeNA has managed to survive as a company by investing the money it earned, and it currently owns a baseball team, but the original community has no substantial presence anymore.
Many leading companies won't engage in social media marketing because they feel that the industry will not last for another 10 years. However, I have been involved in handling "content" from the very beginning. Works such as "Kyojin no Hoshi" [Star of the Giants] is still used in modern television commercials, and horror mangas written by Kazuo Umezu remain ever popular. "GeGeGe no Kitarō" has been adapted for the screen seven times, two of which were live-action adaptations. From our perspective, this art is immortal. In movie terms, it would be like saying a 14 year-old boy seeing "Lawrence of Arabia" for the first time has a good probability of becoming a movie fan. What I mean is, providing the concept that good quality content is loved for a long time does not change, our best business model is to create good quality content. This perspective is linked to the core concept of our company that I mentioned before, that we need to focus on the here and now instead of trying to make long term plans."