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WWJ contributor Michael Thuresson was in Las Vegas, Nevada, last week and managed to pull himself away from the one-armed bandits long enough to drop in on the CTIA “Wireless IT and Internet 2002” fall show. His report below was culled from a late-night, bleary-eyed email dispatch (italicized annotations partly contributed by me). Who says war correspondents in Kandahar have more fun than tech stringers in Vegas?
The other news from last week that I thought particularly noteworthy was DoCoMo’s recall of 1,640 Toshiba 3G handsets, the new T2101V, due to software glitches. Sales of the handsets have been suspended until a fix is found, and buyers are being contacted and offered full replacements at no cost.
This shows, once again, that 3G is proving to be particularly hard. But is it a question of a few minor, if somewhat embarrassing, glitches sneaking past QC (after all, DoCoMo andToshiba are two of the world’s most sophisticated tech companies — surely nothing major could be wrong?) or does this point to a deeper, more systematic difficulty with creating software for high tech handsets that works on 3G W-CDMA?
Obviously, neither company is saying much. The press releases on both companies’ websites were cryptic as they were apologetic. As the UK’s Inquirer pointed out,DoCoMo “has become the first operator to recall a 3G handset” although, more correctly, DoCoMo had already become the first carrier to do so back when it had problems with about 1,500 NEC N2002video phones last November (the handsets would freeze and dump user data). Also, NEC recalled 3G handsets initially deployed on Manx Telecom’s 3G system last April, but that was during trial stage.
DoCoMo’s FOMA is still in early days, and in some ways the software problems with 3G merely mirror the spate of recalls that occurred in the first six months after Java rolled out in January 2001. Japanese handset makers – arguably the world’s best – are teaming up and boosting the number of engineers assigned to phone software (I recall in August last year that NEC said it would partner with Matsushita Communication specifically for 2.5G and 3G technology focusing on Europe and “the rest of the world”) and I suspect they’ll get it right sooner rather than later.
Part of the problem is that so few FOMA handsets have been sold that the makers have little incentive to commit to major R&D and commercialization of 3G models. December’s FOMA “Big Bang” – DoCoMo is due to introduce a whole domburi full of new models – will help to boost consumer take-up and – hopefully – get more of the bugs identified and squashed.
Note that NEC announced today that Hutchison Whampoa has increased its November 2001 order for 3G video-capable terminals (for Hutchnetworks worldwide) from one to two million! I think NEC will get it right…
Hi Daniel, Michael
Referring to the article below from WWJ 76. Yahoo Japan has had an i-appli Instant Messenger service which is integrated with a normal Yahoo! Japan (not other Yahoo!) accounts for months. [It's] not a client, but there are also Web pages were you can use MSN IM from a keitai, such as www.mister-i.com/i-mode/. I also remember KDDI/au was advertising IM on a keitai but don’t know how this worked.
Some sage advise when entering new turf; Stop, Look and Listen.. it’s also good to secure a local guide. Japan is the cradle of mobile civilization – we have been dedicated to this space since 2001 – trust our archives here offer some useful material.
Domestic activities continue to set the pace, and sharp players are looking at global markets. We have hard-earned industry expertise and trusted network of contacts with access to advanced intell. and potential deal flow. Need a lift.. Ok, buckle-up!