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Inciting The Mobile Revolution

March 24, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

I want to talk to you about Android. As you said, there's a contrast between what you can do with it as compared to iOS, and it seems like Ngmoco is pushing towards some ambitious stuff for Android. Can you give me an idea how you feel about Android and its emergence?

NY: I feel good about it. I mean, I think there are some challenges with it, but in general I feel pretty good about it. Google's made some incredible strides; I mean clearly their open strategy is getting them traction in the marketplace.

I think the operating system is improving, and improving at a fast rate. I think their delivery mechanism -- I'm not sure if you've seen the Android Market on the web, and the ability to be able to one-click download and it appears on your phone, over the air -- I mean, I think that that's superior to iTunes in many ways. So I think it's developing at a pretty fast pace.

Things that need work are fragmentation... And fragmentation is not so much device fragmentation. I mean, that is there, but it's more of an annoyance, I think, than anything else.

It's really operating system versioning. You know, Verizon hasn't rolled out 2.2 on its phones, and you need 2.2 because that's where Google's latest billing mechanism is going to come from. Then you're sort of always straddling lots of different operating system variants.

And then payment mechanisms -- you know, the payment mechanisms on Android right now just are quite a bit far behind iTunes and iOS. But they're making improvements; they'll come out with IAB. They certainly have made progress on carrier billing. So IAB plus carrier billing plus, maybe a better managed updating process for operating systems, and a continuing evolution of the marketplace... and I think you're starting to get something pretty interesting.

What appeals to you about Android? Is it just the install base creeping up? Or is it something about the platform -- the freedom that you have as a developer?

NY: I like the freedom; more freedom is better in my opinion. So I like that, and it's just the scale of Android is undeniable now. Now the naysayers will say, "Yeah, but it doesn't monetize as well" and, "You don't download as many apps." And those things are true today, but the trend is the thing to pay attention to.

If you look 12 months out, I think the monetization issues are solved. If you look 24 months out, I think monetization and fragmentation issues are probably solved, and you probably have an install base that's pretty impressive. I think also Android is sort of designed to be a ubiquitous operating system for consumer devices. So whether that's in DVD players or televisions or tablets or telephones or cars, I think that that's kind of interesting.

How much does Ngmoco -- the entity in San Francisco -- really contribute to the global DeNA strategies and projects that you are working on? And how much do DeNA contribute to you? How much back and forth is there?

NY: A lot. So -- subject to the shareholders' approval here -- I'm joining the board of DeNA. So that's obviously fairly meaningful. I spend a lot of time with Tomoko Namba, who's the CEO, really trying to plan the business. She's very committed to make DeNA a global company, and I think she really recognizes -- I know she really recognizes -- that the best way for her to do that is to build a management team that's representative of the world.

And so that means having the right balance and mix of experienced people from Japan and experienced people from the West come together and try to build a great company together.

And we didn't have to sell Ngmoco, you know. It wasn't like we were out of money and it was time to go. It wasn't like I was getting tired and didn't want to work anymore, anything like that. I mean, we sold Ngmoco because it was really the best way for us to accomplish the founding vision of our company.

If you look at the very original logos for Ngmoco, the ones that were probably at our first GDCs -- and certainly on our investor pictches, and our original business cards, and our announcements when we raised money -- it's "ng-colon-moco," and the emoticon. And then underneath that is some Japanese writing.

I remember, yeah.

NY: And so if you translate that it says, [in Japanese] "Future Entertainment Company" -- like a literal translation of what our vision was; what our founding vision for Ngmoco was. The combination with DeNA was done because we shared that same vision, and we felt like the time to do it was now.

And if you could do it, the scale of endeavor that you could create would be, one, very big and two, you just don't get those opportunities very often. Things don't converge in such a way that frequently -- I've experienced at least in my life -- where you have the opportunity to do something really, really, really big.

It's kind of like a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and I really feel like the last time it happened was with cable; you know, with CNN and ESPN and MTV. And the time before that, I think it was probably broadcast media, broadcast television. So I really think that there's an opportunity to deliver something that, for our generation -- for people who've grown up with games, that love games, that love interactivity, but also like other media too -- to kind of bring something together in one place.

Mobage-Town in Japan is just an early blueprint of that. And if you take Mobage-Town -- if you could Westernize the things that should be Westernized, retain the structural elements that work, bring it to smartphones in a way that delights people when they interact with it, I think that'd be incredibly powerful; I think that would be culture-changing. And that's very, very, very exciting.

So DeNA shared that vision, we shared that vision, and we decided to kind of go on the adventure together. And it won't be a smooth ride, I think, for us, and we have a lot to learn from one another, but it's very exciting.

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