Sharp has signed an agreement with the Japanese division of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications [Press Release in Japanese] to collaborate on development of cell-phone handsets based on the Symbian operating system for NTT DoCoMo's FOMA 3G service in Japan. The two companies plan to share selected hardware while developing 3G phones that will be unique to the Sharp and Sony Ericsson brands.
In the Tokyo district of Ikebukuro, about 100 people, including junior high school children and workers on their way to the office, lined up outside a store that opened its doors at 7 a.m. to snap up Nintendo's new interactive "Nintendo DS" [.jpg image] game consoles. The dual-screen consoles come with a touch panel and built-in chat software, and can be connected to a wireless network to interact with other players. After purchasing the console, many of them immediately opened the box and started playing. Nintendo hopes to sell 5 million consoles worldwide by March 2005.
KDDI and Japanese Internet portal site operator Excite are set to transform into the dynamic duo of PC and mobile synergy. Their brand new "Duogate" co-venture will give KDDI's au mobile handset owners full access to mega-sized celly contents — from music to games to videos — right on the PC (and vice versa).
In an effort to reduce fraud involving prepaid handsets, Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications together with telecos has announced a series of security measures to take effect by spring of 2005. As reported by Wireless Watch Japan earlier this week, politicians as well as the media have been making a lot of noise about doing away with pre-paid service entirely after their use in several high-profile fraud cases last year (which would make Japan the only market anywhere to do so). Such a move would come down hardest on Vodafone, the dominant player in Japan's prepaid handset market.
Wherein Dr. Brian Clark fields questions from the Japanese media at a presser [WWJ Video here] held 16 November 2004; the good CEO responds to queries related to expected 3G subscriber numbers ("We don't issue forecasts for customer numbers ahead of time"), sourcing 3G terminals from Korea (Korean terminals are not appropriate), and what percentage of customers use prepaid — and how will a ban affect overall performance ("Current base is about 11 percent; prepaid is a fundamental customer benefit"), among others. For wireless watchers, today's Portable Reportable — a direct look at the inner workings of Japan mobile — is not to be missed.
A joint press release from London and Tokyo this morning confirms the deal between DoCoMo and mmO2 for i-mode in the UK. O2 UK and O2 Ireland will have exclusive use of i-mode branding and technology in their respective markets; in Germany, O2 will launch the service based on i-mode technology under its own brand. O2 plans to introduce i-mode in the UK and Ireland during the second half of 2005. In Germany, the service will be offered from Spring 2006.
mmO2 plc, a leading European mobile operator, and NTT DoCoMo, Inc., Japan's largest mobile communications provider, today signed a long-term strategic agreement under which O2 will launch the i-mode mobile internet service in the UK, Germany and Ireland. This partnership will complement O2's existing expertise in data services with DoCoMo's experience in non-sms data and its extensive research and development capabilities. Customers will benefit from easy to use services, rich content applications and messaging across a range of advanced handsets.
There hasn't been much noise about it, but several media outlets are reporting that NTT DoCoMo has said it will stop offering 2G service by 2012 as 3G technology goes mainstream; Kyodo, Yahoo News, and AFP have all carried this item. If you've seen the popularity of 3G FOMA and CDMA WIN in Tokyo, the news of 2G's slow demise on Japan's biggest carrier will come as no surprise.
On 16 November, Dr. Brian Clark, acting president and CEO, Vodafone KK, presided at an Imperial Hotel presser announcing Vodafone Japan's first-half results for the fiscal year ending 31 March 2005. Despite mobile operating revenue falling 2.5 percent year-on-year (to 736.8 bn yen), Clark put on a brave face and emphasized the new 3G terminal line-up, increased 3G coverage, growth in prepaid, and enhanced roaming. Nonetheless, several of his comments contrast sharply wit
Cellcos and handset manufacturers here are counting on the seemingly limitless Japanese craving to trade up to the trendiest and newest feature-packed cellies to push cash flow forward. Right behind the recent roll out of DoCoMo's shiny, feature-packed 3G FOMA 901i-series comes a new line of four "Mova" (the carrier's 2G brand) handsets targeting niche buyers. Lets take a look at these babies as each one has a distinctive feature targeting a specific, finicky, not-yet-ready-for-3G keitai shopper.
Niche marketing is undeniably cost-intensive — all those handsets require development, marketing and manpower to support. If 3G is where DoCoMo wants everyone to be, why continue to innovate within the older, 2G Mova line?
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