Should you be thinking of Vegas on your next flight to Tokyo or Seoul?


As many of you know from my previous blogs/posts, I have visited /spoken in Korea a number of times and in general am favourable to what is happening there. Same applies to Japan – though I have never been there.

However, on my last visit to the USA, I had an interesting experience.

I was discussing the MySpace Helio venture with an insightful entrepreneur in Santa Clara when he mentioned the phrase (which I had not heard of till then) :

What happens in Vegas – stays in Vegas

He then went on to explain (what is perhaps a phrase now deeply entrenched in the American psyche) – about and ad campaign with the same strap line.

It apparently shows a number of ‘sober/ordinary’ folk – (if that’s the right word to use here) – , going to Vegas/having a wild time and then coming back home to their ordinary selves

The strap line says ‘what happens in Vegas – remains in Vegas’ i.e. all the fun you have had remains there!!

The phrase, it seems, is widely used to indicate things which are popular at a particular location but never seem to expand beyond that location.

For example: in case of Billy Crystal.Having hosted the Oscars in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2004 – that’s what people associate him with . In 2006, he wisely turned the ‘opportunity’ down but was it too late? Had he been vegassed? i.e. he can’t break out of the niche(forever pigeonholed?)

Now, my friend mentioned specifically in context of the MySpace/Helio deal (which involves the Korean operator SK Telecom),

‘What happens (technologically – especially in context to IT/Telecoms) in Korea/Japan – stays in Korea/Japan!’

At first, I was proposing the counter argument.

But then I think perhaps he may well be right!

It’s harsh, but could it be true?

(Note this argument applies to software, telecoms and IT – and not standalone devices etc)

Today, in Europe, we have high levels of Broadband, WiFi and 3G.

More importantly, we have relatively open standards.

Thus, much of the innovation we see in Japan and Korea may well arise EARLY due to closed proprietary standards BUT will stay there for ever (la – Las Vegas).

Hence, other countries like the UK may get them a bit later for instance train ticketing via SMS.

Other than DMB from Korea, I don’t see much on the horizon. Even there, I saw a demo of (rival technology) DVB-H at the Symbian smartphone show at the Texas Instruments stand and that seems to almost as good as the video I have seen in Korea.

So, considering translations, cultural factors, walled gardens, closed /proprietary standards in Japan and Korea: I have to agree that he has a point

What do you think?

Korea and Japan may be great places to see what is happening but …

Should you be thinking of Vegas on your next flight to Tokyo or Seoul?

(PS: my views on Helio is a whole different post! Suffice to say: I tend to agree with Om Malik and also my friend’s assessment)