Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I was listening to a marketing presentation the other day and learned an interesting fact. As most of you know, Japanese homes are very small so even married couples often go to "love hotels" to make love. Churn was high and customer retention was traditionally very low because most couples like to experiment with all of the interesting features in the variety of hotels. Recently some love hotels started providing rental lockers, which at first sounds a bit counter-intuitive. Married couples found it convenient to store adult toys and other things that they didn't want their children to find in these lockers. These lockers created a relationship between the customer and the hotel and dramatically increased customer retention. Now these lockers are used to store all sorts of "Not Safe For Home" things.

Apparently, lockers in almost any industry are a great way to lower churn.

Off to visit Marko in Helsinki.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin Parody Blog

I've wanted to do a blog for ages but Sergey couldn't manage to set up MovableType. Apparently it's "Just too difficult".

Anyway, the other day he suggested that it would be a thousand times easier to just buy Blogger.com.

So we did.

Via Aaron Swartz on the Google Weblog

Sony and Docomo have announced that they are working together to put contactless IC chips in phones. Sony's FeliCa (type C contactless IC chip) is slowly becoming a defacto standard in Japan. (The government is backing a different standard, type B.) Currently the Japan Railways, AM/PM and others are using it for payments. Many companies use it for company ID's. The problem is that you can't see how much is left in your card and it's a pain to "charge" the card with more money. Putting it on a phone lets you download money from your bank and see how much is left. I worry about the privacy and security issues, but connecting an RF payment system with a phone totally makes sense.

I have a theory that Docomo has to become an identity/payment company and dump the voice and other bit-pushing businesses and go flat rate or free on the network. Docomo should buy a credit card company and use the bit-pushing business as a stick when collecting money. There are some regulations regarding payment businesses that make it difficult, but I'm sure the government would waive this if there was enough of a social need. Right now, the transaction business that credit card companies do doesn't make money. This has driven credit card companies to become loan companies that lobby the government to allow them to charge crazy interest rates. These interest rates cause people to end up in debt hell and commit suicide. If Docomo replaced credit cards as the primary non-cash transaction, credit system and could use network service termination to lower the collection costs, I bet they could make enough money on the transaction business to cover the bit-pushing.

Docomo is Japan's biggest mobile carrier that does about $8B / yr in data revenues.

Cory just had the best day of his writing career. danah was a "giddy little girl" yesterday. I get vicariously giddy when my friends are giddy on a good day. As Cory points out, his day was the best day "so far". That's key. Wouldn't it suck if you started your life with the best day ever and it kept getting worse? Much better to start with the bad days and have each day get better.

Does this mean that people who are born into luxury have a harder time having a good life than someone who starts out below average and ends up developing a great life? I guess it depends on what makes you happy.

The mundane parameters of my life (money, attention, health...) are cycling like crazy, but I definitely feel like my life continues to get better. I would say that the primary source of happiness for me is the quality of the human beings I get to spend time with. Although many of my favorite people have passed away, I think I am hanging out with more interesting people today than any other point in my life.

So in the spirit of the weird American holiday thank you. All of you.