Looking at the Present from the Perspective of 10 Years Ahead

In June 2000 we commercialized our Phile-web website, which had been launched in the summer of 1999, as a portal site contributing to the development of the industry, and it began functioning as part of the industrial infrastructure. Phile-web, which marks its eleventh anniversary this year, has grown into a site that now has 300 million hits a month, more than 12 million page views a month, and over 1 million unique users. It is highly evaluated and also functions as the official Japanese site of the IFA Berlin Show, the world’s largest trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances.

When we launched Phile-web in the summer of 1999, we adopted a policy of (1) it must be a site that contributes to the constructive development of the industry; (2) therefore, it must be a professional portal site rather than just a homepage; (3) it must be a strong presence envisioning the future of Ongen Publishing in 10 years’ time (because a publishing company that is weak online cannot survive); and (4) we would not operate a bulletin board.

So it was that from June 2000 we commercialized the site, and Phile-web started out as a portal site for the industry. In order to develop the site, it was absolutely essential to update the news every day, so I made it obligatory for every member of our editorial group to write one article a day. Furthermore, as weekly contents, we prepared a weekly ranking of CD and DVD software, a list of new products put on sale that week, a weekly product review, and weekly columns. As monthly contents, we posted the top sales ranking compiled by our Senka 21 magazine. In addition, we carried colorful content in coordination with our printed magazines, such as a shopping mall and product database. The number of hits steadily increased.

I explained my idea that Phile-web should be like the Guiana Highland in Venezuela. The Guiana Highland consists of more than 100 flat vertically cut “table-top” mountains. In particular, the western side of the highland rises to a height of around 3,000 meters, and the Angel Waterfall, at 979 meters, is the highest in the world. (It is about three times as high as Tokyo Tower!)

When I look at videos or photographs of the Guiana Highland, I see its height as the number of hits and page views. The highland plateau is a kind of festive plaza where we offer many attractive contents. Here we have built an inner shrine of AV information for visitors who wander into this area, thus increasing the number of high-quality unique users.

I also became something of a vigilante, checking the contents of Phile-web for mistakes and irrelevancies and telling the people in charge to make improvements when necessary. Before long, all of our staff members had become watchful vigilantes themselves, and their work transformed into a challenge. Thus, Phile-web began to soar like the Guiana Highland, improving its quality and heading toward a degree of perfection.

The reason lies in our human resources. My role is to build an environment in which our talented staff members can freely display their abilities; my mission is to indicate a future direction that gives them belief and self-confidence. This flow carries on into the next generation.

I think Phile-web, which is coming up to its twelfth anniversary, has reached a good point as part of the industry’s infrastructure. This is the situation we envisioned a decade ago. Phile-web has become established as an infrastructure showing the way to the future. The environment surrounding our industry has changed dramatically over the last few years, and this situation is casting a heavy shadow on our struggling industry. But I believe that if we deepen the basic principle of “always beside the customer,” the road ahead will open. It begins with people. We must take a look at the present from the perspective of 10 years ahead. Everything starts from here.