The total number of mobile phone and personal handy-phone system (PHS) subscription contracts has neared 80 million, with the number standing at 79.85 million at the end of February, up 0.5% from the previous month, a telecommunications association said Friday. In terms of the three main mobile phone companies, the NTT DoCoMo Inc. group had 43.23 million mobile phone contracts, followed by the KDDI Corp. group at 13.72 million and the J-Phone Co. group at 13.62 million, it said.
Japan's cell phone makers, pioneers of the camera-equipped handset, look set to intrude into digital camera makers' turf as a fierce battle for market share draws them toward photo-phones with million-pixel resolution. No one is yet consigning digital cameras to the high-tech scrap heap, but some of the dozen or so handset makers that crowd the Japanese market are preparing to launch "megapixel" photo phones this year with picture quality good enough to make prints.
If at first you don't succeed, then try again - or so says NTT DoCoMo. I-mode, NTT's mobile multimedia messaging service, was launched in Germany, Holland and Belgium almost a year ago by network operator KPN NV (KPN), but consumers weren't keen. Now, the Japanese mobile network operator is launching i-mode in France and Spain, and is hoping this second European push succeeds.
Tokyo's HI Corp. has developed a 3D-graphics rendering engine that was first deployed by J-Phone/Vodafone in 2001. The software allows a cell phone to display very cool 3-D images that can be rotated, spun around, and otherwise manipulated. Now NTT DoCoMo and KDDI have adopted HI's technology, and the company is keen to boost 3D imaging into markets elsewhere. Unfortunately, Sony, Sharp, and other heavyweights have taken notice. In the cut-throat, mobile technology ocean, will HI Corp. end up as one more little fish eaten by the big fish? Today's program features Tokyo's HI Corp., a 10-year-old software house founded by a bunch of students that has created some very cool technology.
The past couple of weeks saw two lavish events at trendy Tokyo venues hosted by carriers NTT DoCoMo and J-Phone to fete their content provider communities (so, yes, there was a lot of overlap in the guest lists). One attendee at the J-Phone event, held at Zepp in Odaiba, reported that it was a sweaty, raucous evening with content community punters packed in six deep. "There was a lengthy line-up of folks waiting to exchange meishi business cards," she said, adding that a good time was had, evidently, by all.
Last week, sr. contributing editor Michael Thuresson sent in a user-level review of his new Sanyo handset that he uses on the Sprint network. As you scroll through a list of tones, you cannot sample them before you buy them. Hard for people new to this idea to get interested if they can't do that!
A regular WWJ reader who requested anonymity (for obvious reasons) send me a blast panning the new Toshiba BREW-enabled CDMA 1X handset. "Just thought you might be interested. I bought a A5304T with BREW last week, and it is crap! Actually, the BREW part and the camera are all right, and the phone design itself is nice; but the user interface and display suck.
Even mobile e-commerce - which has been a bust elsewhere - is starting to take off in Japan. More than a third of mobile Net subscribers have used their phones to buy such goods as CDs and concert tickets, according to the Mobile Content Forum, an industry trade group.
Japan's largest newspaper Web sites get hundreds of millions of page views per month. But many new media pioneers are still unsure where news sites fit into the media mix in Japan -- and whether they'll ever make a profit. A man walks by a bank in Osaka just as it erupts into flames. He pulls out a camera-equipped cell phone -- one of 10 million in use in Japan -- and snaps a photo.
J-Phone said that on March 3 it will launch "Loco Guide," a new service that utilizes the J-Sky mobile Internet to bring a broad range of local information to customers based on their current location. Loco Guide searches for location-specific contents so users can quickly obtain information on transportation, restaurants, leisure spots, banks, hospitals, and other services. Previously users had to search different J-Sky content services to obtain location-specific information. However, with Logo Guide, users can now access the contents of multiple sites simultaneously, thereby eliminating the inconvenience of searching different sites to find relevant information.
>Mobikyo K.K. publishes Wireless Watch Japan, organizes MobileMonday Tokyo networking events and operates Mobile Intelligence study tours providing related custom research and advisory services. Mobikyo's founding directors are deeply connected with, respected by, and committed to, Japan's wireless and IT business community. Thousands of managers, planners, engineers and strategists depend on Mobikyo to learn about Japan's unique business models, technologies, contents, services, applications and hardware from the most innovative test-bed market for next-generation mobile industry. "Mobikyo" was chosen for the unique blending of Mobile and Tokyo. However, depending on the kanji character used for kyo, it could also mean association, capital, religion or today. With fantastic support from our clients, partners and affiliates in Japan and overseas, we have become the trusted source of independent market intelligence & business networking connections based in Tokyo.
MobileMonday Tokyo is a leading networking organization supporting Tokyo's mobile industry. We launched in September 2004, with over 70 events to-date, hosting an average 100-200 industry delegates. MobileMonday is an open platform for mobile industry visionaries, developers and industry insiders fostering cooperation and business development through live networking events to share ideas, best practices and trends from global markets. Chapters are active in over 100 cities worldwide and new locations continue to launch monthly. Founded in Helsinki, Finland, in 2000, MobileMonday is organized by a global team of 300+ volunteers and it has become the world's largest mobile community network. Details via MoMo Tokyo website
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