Toshiba has become the latest of Japan's major electronics makers to charge head first into the world of the Internet.
It announced last week plans to create a new in-house company, i-Value Creation Company, focused solely on the creation of digital content, and establish a division within its Information and Industrial Systems and Services Company to increase use of B2B e-commerce services within the company, it said in a statement.
The i-Value Creation Company will initially have two divisions, the Webtop Service Division and Media and Content Division. The former will be charged with development of information and portal services, principally for mobile Internet applications, while the latter will oversee planning and development of in-house content businesses and promote new services to take advantage of Internet, digital television and other platforms.
Although several of Japan's electronics giants have announced plans to centre their business around the Internet, Toshiba is the first to put such a strong emphasis on mobile Internet.
The company has seen the explosive popularity of current first-generation services, such as the i-mode service of NTT Mobile Communications Network (NTT DoCoMo) and the WAP-(wireless application protocol) based services of DDI Cellular and Nippon Ido Tsushin, which have managed to attract five million users in less than a year. Moreover, it is eyeing the upcoming launch of broadband mobile Internet services, scheduled for early 2001 in Japan, as a market it cannot miss out on.
Toshiba already has firsthand experience in the sector through its "Eki-mae Tanken Club" service, which, according to the company, currently attracts one million page views per day.
In the near term, before broadband services are available, Toshiba said it plans to offer stock prices and financial market information to mobile users and is joining with Nihon Short Wave Broadcasting, a leading broadcaster of financial market information, on an information service. Through a further link with Matsui Securities, the service will provide wireless stock trading.