Designing Interactions

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Takeshi Natsuno

Takeshi Natsuno is interviewed in Chapter 6 – Services. His spectacularly successful phone service relates to the design processes described by Live|Work and Fran Samalionis

After studying political science and economics at Waseda University, Takeshi Natsuno went to the United States to study at the Wharton Business School in the University of Pennsylvania. “I learned a lot at Wharton about how to apply the Internet to the real business. If I didn’t go to Wharton, you don’t see i-mode right now! I learned a lot about the Internet even before the launch of Yahoo, even before the commercialization of Netscape. What is the business potential of the Internet itself? I don’t care about the technological possibility, but more about the business opportunities.” When he graduated and returned home, he realized that not many people in Japan understood how to make the Internet useful for real business. This provided an irresistible temptation for his entrepreneurial instincts, so in 1996 he left Tokyo Gas to start up a new Internet business. His idea was to offer free Internet access funded by advertising. This was before Internet service providers (ISPs) became commonplace, and it was too early to succeed, making him willing to try the i-mode experiment. In only five years he grew the i-mode service to thirty two million subscribers.

Natsuno-san describes the challenges of developing the i-mode telephone service due to the complex value chain, including the design of the interactions with the handset, the provision of network services, and the coordination of content providers accessed via the internet.

Takeshi holding an i-mode phone in 2002. Photo Author