LIVE FROM RAKUTEN OPTIMISM BUSINESS CONFERENCE: The head of Rakuten Group outlined its three-pronged strategy for success in the mobile industry, with consumer services linking to the company’s e-commerce ecosystem to drive uptake in Japan and its technology software platform targeting growth in overseas markets.

Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani (pictured) explained its Symphony business unit has gained traction since its launch in August and is looking to tap into a huge overseas market for cloud services forecast to reach JPY15 trillion ($132.4 billion) by 2025.

“We successfully introduced the Rakuten Communications Platform, and with the launch of Symphony we can now provide all of the virtualised services. So far, we are the only company that can do so.”

He argued on the consumer side Rakuten Mobile is not a start-up in the traditional sense as it can target its parent company’s e-commerce customer base of more than 100 million to acquire subscribers. The third pillar of its strategy is aligning mobile services with Rakuten’s shopping, travel, content and fintech offerings, which is “making a very significant contribution”.

The number of MNO and MVNO customers topped 5 million at the end of August.

Rakuten Mobile’s network coverage in Japan reached 93 per cent of the population at end-September, which Mikitani noted was five months behind schedule due to an ongoing worldwide chip shortage. Coverage is forecast to reach 96 per cent in Q2 2022, which he said will enable it to reduce roaming charges.

Mikitani claimed the company democratised the mobile world by offering affordable and flexible plans. “We are disrupters and definitely number one in mobile pricing in Japan.”