It has become clear that Yoshiaki Sakito, the Vice President of Marketing at Apple Computer, Inc.(US) and representative director of Apple Japan K.K. is leaving Apple this month.
As a Mac-oriented computer journalist, I take this as a rather serious loss for Apple K.K.
Mr. Sakito was instrumental to Apple's success in Japan. He has been a great spokes person for the company. No one could reflect the Apple brand better than he did.
He has also been favorited by Japanese media from TVs,magazines and newspaper. With the style and charming smile, he was able to add momentum to Apple products.
He debuted to the Japanese public just when Apple introduced iPod mini for the Japanese market. He promoted iPod mini through female fashion magazine, etc.
He has been actively making public speeches in 2005 but since the beginning of this year, he has become less visible and so did the iPod in Japan.
In Tokyo, if you get on the train, you still see many people wearing iPods but today, we see just as many users using the new digital walkman made by SONY.
iPod may not be as successful as in the US.but I believe Japan still is Apple's no.2 market worldwide. If iPod is losing ground here, I believe it is due to less publicity (partially due to less product announcement) and to iTunes Music Store-Japan. But this is exactlly the kind of situation Mr. Sakito can help.
Mr. Sakito used to work for Disney Japan, so he was a good candidate for the liason between the two companies.
Neither Apple nor Mr. Sakito commented on the sudden departure, but my instinct says he might be another victim of Apple's global strategy.
Apple Computer, Inc. is deploying a 'global strategy.' And for once, I thought it was good for the company.
Many Japanese don't believe in 'global strategy' because they think they are and their market is special.
It is true that some global companies didn't succeed in Japan as much as they have expected; one most recent example of it would be Vodafone Japan.
They inherited the business of very successful J-Phone with a VERY LOYAL customer base, but through their global strategy they lost customer loyalty as well as key market.
I still partially believe in global product strategies, but now I see that it would work only with a good intermediately spokes person. Mr. Sakito was just the man.
It is sad to see him go. But I wish him well and I look forward to be able to work with him again soon.