What The Heck Happened to Japan?

It is with a great of sadness that we report the End-of-Life for OKI-Branded Hardware Effective March 31, 2021.

“This year OKI embarked on a new three-year mid-term plan that would reposition our company for sustained growth and long-term profitability by shifting our focus from a transactional selling approach to value-added sales and service delivery,” said Sergio Horikawa, President & CEO, OKI Data Americas, Inc. “Although we made significant progress in the execution of this plan, considerable shifts in printer market demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to reevaluate our ability to achieve the mid-term plan. After assessment by our management teams in the Americas and Japan, it has been determined that a new path forward is required resulting in today’s announcement.”

In the 1980s and 1990s OKI printers were the best there was. They were built like absolute tanks. They were in many offices that were early computer adopters. The world was theirs for the taking. They did establish a line of VoIP solutions and extended into a few other areas but didn’t gain much traction in the U.S.

Iwatsu had bulletproof phone systems in the 1980s and 1990s. They dropped out of the business some years ago. Toshiba had great phone systems and laptops. They are out of both markets.

Sony made the must-have TV but now Samsung has taken that honor.

Not all Japanese companies have abandoned their leadership positions but these companies went from being great to gone in a few decades.

We have written before that U.S. CEOs of these and other Japanese companies have often complained that Japan has too much control while not understanding the U.S. market. Certainly, this is a big part of the problem as Japanese CEOs think their strong domestic brands translate into the U.S. but they are generally incorrect. This leaves an opportunity for others to out-market them and put them out of business.

This is likely a big part of the problem but so is an obvious lack of innovation and vision to design products that are competitive in an evolving market. Where are the Japanese UCaaS solutions and collaboration solutions for example? What about other software categories?

The situation is a real shame and the world is worse off with less solid competitors in the tech market.


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