The drop in ARPU could be related to the fact that both DoCoMo and KDDI now have camera-equipped keitais on the market (although DoCoMo’s isn’t Java-enabled). Are we seeing the end of the camera-phone bubble? If so, there’s little else on the horizon to serve as the next market booster — except, of course, 3G speed-optimized services (and KDDI’s got the better network right now).
This week’s Viewpoint will cover several odds and ends that have come across our desks in the fast few days.
** The First Cell Phone Virus? The first (that we’ve heard of) cell phone virus was reported on the Keitai-L mailing list this week. Well, it’s not exactly a “virus” perse, but rather more like a hack that can cause the user frustration.The (somewhat) malicious code can be embedded as a link in an i-mode Web page (or in an email message), and when accessed will cause the handset’s scrolling function to die. The result is the user can’tscroll to view any subsequent Web pages or email messages, and the phone has to be powered off to “kill” the virus.
One posting stated: “haven’t had time today to play with it but itseems to work with phones using an Access browser; my N503i is affected but my SO211i is not. The email contains what appears to be a broken graphic icon. Once this email is opened, scrolling of both email messages and i-mode pages is disabled.”
We can’t confirm that this is a real virus, and in fact it appears tobe more of a bug that can be transmitted than a virus. There’s at least one personal Web site (link below) that lists similar bugs, hacks, work-arounds, and other little-known arcana related to Japanese handsets, so these engineering oddities may not be so rare.
** Vodafone Reports Lower ARPU from Japan On Monday, CSFB analysts said that Vodafone had reported quarterly KPIs (key performance indicators), with some good numbers from Europe but some negative figures from Japan. Japan ARPU in calendar Q2 was 7,300 yen, versus 7,433 yen in calendar Q1. For the same period last year, ARPU was 7,800 yen, while full year FY3/2002 forecast is 7,433yen. CSFB’s Mark Berman told investors that “The drop in ARPU is even more than meets the eye given an accounting change that boosted ARPUby 400 yen vs. the year-earlier figure. Therefore, the actual YoY decline appears to have been 12 percent.”
Why is J-Phone hurting so bad? While the company has told the investor community that seasonal factors and low-ARPU net adds are to blame,the drop in ARPU could also be related to the fact that both DoCoMo and KDDI now have camera-equipped keitais on the market (although DoCoMo’s isn’t Java-enabled). Are we seeing the end of the camera-phone bubble? If so, there’s little else on the horizon toserve as the next market booster — except, of course, 3G speed-optimized services (and KDDI’s got the better network right now).
But don’t look for streaming media as the Next Big Thing. There were precisely zero carriers or Japan content players at June’s Streaming Media Show in Tokyo (see the WWJ video program #25)
** AT&T Wireless introduced a digital picture service on July 16th that allows customers to use their mobile phone to take pictures and instantly send them to any email address. This appears to be the first US picture-mail system, and seems to be (functionally) similar toJ-Phone’s Sha-Mail. To access the service (called mMode Pix), customers must attach a miniature digital camera accessory to the bottom of a Sony Ericsson T68i phone. (The camera can store 14-200 pictures depending on size and the handset retails for USD$199.99; the digicam runs you an additional USD$129.99.)
But note one significant difference: in Japan, on Sha-Mail and the other camera-phone services, the camera is **built-in** to the handset. Japan has already tried the add-on camera (the Pashapa — whose CCDdigicam was actually designed by a US firm) back in 2000, and it was a run-away… failure. Even with an add-on camera that was a lot cheape rthan USD$129 equivalent, it just wasn’t convenient nor sexy. WWJ advice for AT&T Wireless? Drop mMode Pix until you can get your hands on a real camera phone.