This morning I met with CEO Park of Japan's Ascent Networks, who is based in Tokyo but visited Seoul temporarily.

Ascent Networks has bunch of high-calibre people and runs several neat Web 2.0 services in Japan. Mr Park has been in Japan for quite a while and understands Japanese web industry thoroughly.

Park said that Japan's startup actions currently look very active, with many software engineers starting up venture companies and also quite a few VCs knocking on doors of those startups.

Park expects that the year 2008 will see lots of interesting mobile applications to come out of Japan, for which the two biggest drivers will be a) further penetration of fixed data plans and b) increased number of (already many) "non-official" mobile sites.

Of particular note is the mobile ads market - Park said Japanese advertisers are starting to discover the relevancy of mobile ads, and are poised to spend more budget on mobile ads. According to Park, "Mobile ads are especially relevant, because people are likely to search something on mobile when they are about to do something in five minutes, not five days or five months."

So I guess what Park says is, if I'm walking on streets and suddenly fall in the mood for Mexican food (don't you sometimes?), I might flip open my phone and look for nearby Mexican place, rather than going back to the office and Google "Nearby mexican restaurant". Therefore search results on mobile might be more aligned with the current/immediate intention of the user - that's my understanding of what Park says.

In any case, I think it's quite likely that some interesting new ventures, especially in the arena of mobile internet, might come from Japan next year. Japan might even lead the global innovation in the mobile web service industry, especially with their lead in the "transition from PC to mobile device."

Which brings my attention back to Korea and its wireless carriers, who are still largely trying to control the mobile value added services (VAS) value chain within their walled gardens. I wouldn't have to bother quoting many people to remind that, in this era of "2.0", innovations don't so much come from the center as from the edge. If Korea also wants to see mobile web service innovations, all "walls" will have to be lifted so that the "edgelings" can build interesting things in sandbox.
TAG , , , Mobile ads