SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son Donates $120 million In Quake Aid, Live On Ustream

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is known to like to think big, and the announcement he made today is no exception: Son said that he will donate a total of 10 billion yen ($120 million) of his personal money to the victims of the quake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11.

Son made the promise on a program that was livestreamed on Ustream earlier today (Sunday) Japanese time. He also said he is ready to donate the rest of the compensation he receives from his company – every year, until he retires. SoftBank itself will donate 1 billion yen, in addition to many other things to support the victims of the disaster.

Among Japan’s web entrepreneurs, Son is in good company: Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, for example, pledged to personally donate 1 billion yen earlier – but Son was the most generous of them all so far.

Son founded SoftBank in 1981 and is 53 years old. According to Forbes, he is worth $8.1 billion.

Softbank’s Online Magazines App Viewn Gets Bumbling Start

Although Apple’s digital publishing service iBookstore on iPad has been doing well in US, like other countries it is not really ready for Japanese iPad users. It is considered to take time to realize as local publishers are more conservative to collaborate.

Sotftbank’s 100% subsidiary Viewn [J], which had been introduced by CEO Masayoshi Son, launched today on June 1st, is expected to fill in the hole for users’ demand for reading texts on new iPad in Japan.

Son announced that Viewn offers a package of 31 popular Japanese magazines for iPad in flat rate $5.00 per month [J]. The subscription fee looks like set by size of screens on Softbank Mobile cellphones.

device Yen US dollars
feature phone 315 $3.46
iPhone 350 $3.85
iPad 450 $4.97

iPad app can be downloaded from this page if your iTunes Store’s country is Japan.

Hype

The announced package includes really big names, a major newspaper Mainichi, a major TV network Nippon TV news, weekly magazines like Friday, AERA, Asahi, President, Economist Japanese version, fashion magazines and travel guidebook series Chikyu no Arukikata (like Lonely Planet in Japan), etc.

Every single magazine costs more than US$3.00 so it surprised Japanese websphere. Twitter was filled up with admiration tone for Son’s account @masason.

Server trouble

However, people rushed at the service launch, 0 a.m. June 1st, saw the iPad/iPhone app never comes back to show magazine covers for an hour.

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Son tweeted that they are installing 10 times more servers [J] to solve the issue. Then gave up and Viewn announced temporal pause of service [J].

Read as much as you like, but…

Also, few lucky users who could read into each magazines “table of contents” found that not all pages are available on the package. A popular tech blogger Tsuruaki Yukawa took Weekly Diamond’s toc as sample and tells it provides only part 1 and 2 out of 5 sections feature story [J].

He showed disappointment that the service is kind of “sample” to be guided for their original paper version. Majority seem to agree it and the initial explanation was exaggerated.

Viewn’s FAQ on website [J] says “On most magazines, main articles will be delivered step-by-step from paper one’s publish date”, “You may browse magazines in the same layout as original. How much you can read are varied on each magazine”.

On Japanese websphere, there are also another users’ voice that this is kind of new challenge so user should not bash Viewn and support publishers will allow more contents online.

Masayoshi Son Retrospects A Meeting With Steve Jobs About Cellphone iPod Idea

At the iPhone 3GS launch event in Omotesando, Tokyo, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son told a story about when he talked an idea of combining iPod and cellphone to Steve Jobs.

According to Son, he had a meeting with jobs in 4,5 years ago, which is before he bought the Japan’s third biggest cellphone company from Vodafone. There he told Jobs about his intention either to establish or buy cellphone company in Japan, and asked if Apple could make a new device which combines their popular music player iPod and cellphone. Jobs answered to Son that he actually had been thinking the same idea.

He also announced that the nation’s superstar group SMAP is cast as their Softbank Mobile’s brand character, stepping into Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt‘s shoes.

via iPhone 3G Wiki blog [J]