This week, Wireless Watch Japan ( WWJ ) was invited by NTT DoCoMo to visit their Club D Showroom, located on the 29th floor of corporate HQ in Tokyo. We do the intro from the FOMA F1 — that’s the race car that can communicate at 384 Kbps on a test track using FOMA, we play with 504i Java and 251i i-shot handsets and tried videoconferencing with the new 3G PDA by Sharp. This programme is pure eye-candy, and is not-to-be missed for the serious 3G wireless aficionado. Boy-o-boy-o-boy… it doesn’t get much better than this folks! After buying a soda via c-mode, we ask, “Why does DoCoMo spend so big to promote its technology?”
Comments from Wireless Watch Japan Editor-in-Chief Daniel Scuka:
The WWJ video newsmagazine is all about the fact that we are located at the epicentre of Japan’s wireless revolution, and can grab a peek at the latest handsets, devices, network services, and other technologies as soon as they roll out. Wireless fans unfortunate enough to live elsewhere can only, no doubt, look on in envy!
But this week’s programme goes a long way towards opening up the bamboo curtain, and includes shots of the new PHS multimedia terminal, the Lookwalk P751i — which looks suspiciously like a Panasonic 2101v FOMA terminal (the shells are almost identical), the new FOMA PDA (the world’s first W-CDMA PDA?), and the i-shot, Big D’s johnny-come-lately answer to J-Phone’s wicked Sha Mail series. (DoCoMo’s is made by the same maker as J-Phone’s first J-SH51 Sha Mail keitai — Sharp. Who says Sony-Ericsson will kick butt…?)
Also, this programme raises a key question, namely, Why did DoCoMo spend all that money — on trained, bilingual staff; on the showroom itself; and on maintaining non-revenue-producing working models of all (or almost all) their current models — to create Club D? We think it’s clear that a global technology plan like DoCoMo’s requires an industry- and media-friendly PR plan that illustrates the quality of their products and services (and they are unarguably extremely well thought-out) to potential partners and customers alike. Which global technology plan is that, you ask? The one they launched back in 1999, where the aim is to convince partner operators to select W-CDMA 3G technology, and roll out the new networks sooner, rather than later. Why would they do that? Basically — to save money.
As I wrote in April 2001:
“So DoCoMo is giving [partner operators] (and itself) a hand. Its strategy is to use i-mode’s revenue-boosting magic as a hook to get other operators on the W-CDMA bandwagon. It’s a good hook: back home DoCoMo is enjoying huge and rising i-mode packet fee revenues (some 127 billion yen for the first half of FY01, versus almost zero the year before), and content provider fees, banner ad income, and ecommerce commissions promise to add significantly to this. Can using i-mode do the same for other operators? That’s what DoCoMo’s telling them, because if they adopt its model they’ll also have to adopt W-CDMA, and that will drive down infrastructure costs for compatible equipment.”
Club D is just one example of how the giant operator is implementing a long-term strategy to become a global player. Granted, that strategy has gotten a bloody nose recently with the general telecoms sector wipe-out, but there’s no sign that Big D is turning away from the course.