Sunday, June 11, 2006

Eurotechnology Japan: SoftBank starts rebranding Vodafone in Japan

Gerhard Fasol at Eurotechnology Japan blogs about SoftBank's rebranding effort of the Vodafone brand in Japan. Fasol believes "Vodafone's withdrawal from Japan is a turning point in more ways than one and has wider implications for Europe," and also shows that he values of cross-cultural management skills are often underestimated." Fasol states that:

Vodafone's investment was by far the largest European investment in Japan. What is maybe less well known is that Vodafone was dispatching a relatively large stream of managers between several continents (Europe, Australia etc) and Japan. These expatriates all left within a few weeks of SoftBank taking control of the company.As a result of these interactions, Vodafone could bring J-Phone's J-Sky mobile internet service to Europe, which was adapted for European conditions and rebranded "Vodafone Live!". There would be no "Vodafone Live!" in Europe without Vodafone's acquisition of J-Phone (including JSky). Vodafone also brought SHARP and Toshiba mobile handsets to Europe.
Fasol believes that "Vodafone's withdrawal from Japan also shows how difficult it is for European telecom firms to succeed in Japan - and for Japanese firms in the telecom sector to succeed in Europe. Our company knows this first-hand from our work for NTT-Communications, and some other Japanese companies. It also shows how easy it is to underestimate the importance of cross-cultural management skills and the associated perils." He concludes that:
While large US corporations, including INTEL, General Motors, and Motorola have been forced by confrontation with Japan's competition to completely reshape themselves, this has not yet happened to any large European corporation because of the larger perceived separation between EU and Japan.