Lets take an A-B-C approach on this recent post from NYT. Since Gen Kanai has already provided a strong and balanced review, taking an open-source software approach, we will stick to the hardware aspect for our humble comments herein.
As long-time observers of the Japan market, with a decent grasp on the global stage considering that’s where many in our audience are based, we have a few thoughts about possible handset futures. As we see it, there are basically two niche ends of the spectrum: smartphones and emerging markets, so it’s reasonable to expect some near-term activity with DoCoMo and one or more of their handset partners getting underway in India, f
People on the move between Tokyo and Osaka can now hop a luxury bus service which conveniently includes speedy wireless access. These red-eye express coaches offer riders 802.11b/g connectivity via IIJ and DoCoMo networks with power access and Business Class seats for about $100usd, a notable savings compared to taking the Shinkansen. While commuter buses are usually designed to carry up to 40 passengers, these new Eco-Friendly hybrid gas and electric powered chariots are configured with only 16 large comfortable reclining vibro-seats. Talk about flying first class on the ground!
KDDI announced the My AU Premiere Shop portal reached 5 Million members, out of their 30M total subscriber base, in just 5 month since launch in mid-February. The digital mall provides EZ WEb subscribers a free profile page to customize with product preferences and receive exclusive offerings.
According to the Nikkei, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecomms announced the mobile contents and services market results in 2008 increased by 17% YoY to reach 1.35 Trillion JPY (approx. $14 Billion usd), mobile advertising not included. The mobile commerce market, including mail orders and stock transactions recorded $9B, up 19% while airline and hotel reservations, in the same segment, increased by 25%. The mobile contents category, lead by music, games and e-books, gained 13% to about $5B. Do the math on a mobile population of 106M contracts!
NEC BIGLOBE announced it will introduce a mobile site Flash creator platform, under a SaaS model, as of today. According to the release, a multi-design template driven offering is used for the construction of mobile websited so clients need only add the text and images, no special skills are required. The package fee is quoted at $1,500 for initial setup and $5k per month for hosting with stated target of 300 clients in 36 months for a cool 1 Billion jpy. Adobe Flash has been a standard pre-install, by all operators on all handsets, since 2004 in Japan.
DoCoMo launched it's i-concier service in November 2008, along with 22 new handsets, and has apparently managed to gain 1M subscribers as of April this year according to the Mobility Quarterly newsletter [.PDF]. While famously introduced by Vertu some years back, and offered by Toshiba last spring with their Cosmic Shiner model, for $4k a pop, the service allows members to opt-in for a variety of info feeds from weather, transportation and sports to special coupon offers. The system can warn users if a storm is approaching their area or if service is delayed on a local commuter line and will let them know that a favorite TV show will start soon.
This saucy story has been making the rounds and we felt obliged to offer a balance observation, so here goes. It come as no surprise that, just like the PC world, adult is a major content category, certainly this is not a recent development. We have had mobile flat-rate data plans since 2006, do you really think it's taken this long for the demand to spike? Note, DoCoMo just rolled out a new video download platform - BeeTV - this spring and is agressively advertising that despite supposedly being overwhelmed by demand for salaryman snacks. More after the hop.
DoCoMo rolled-out the very first Android powered device in Japan today, labeled as the HT-03A, with somewhat less fan-fare than other product launches (cough-cough: iPhone) we've seen in the past. Besides the obvious absence of long line-ups full of eager gadget geeks, we find nothing on GoogleNews (strange considering who runs that show) and very little so far on the main Japanese tech sites. Basically, Abracadabra - Boo! - it's surprisingly quiet here on the eastern front.
The good folks over at YAPPA have launched an interesting platform, in conjunction with Dentsu, for browsing and purchasing magazines. The MagaStore, initially targeting the iPhone but eventually available for other mobile platforms, debuts with 30 titles provided by 20 mainstream publishers including Asahi Shimbun, ALBA, Kodansha, Shogakukan, Shinchosha, SONY, Hankyu and Fuso.
DoCoMo is taking the wraps off their new compact Femtocell base transceiver station [.pdf] developed for their "Home Area" platform. The concept of course is to off-load mobile data access to fixed-line PC's when their customers are keitai surfing while at home. This latest model also will enable e-mail notification for parents when a child arrives home, as their handset is detected, while another possible service centers around electronic coupons sent from a store to nearby potential customers.
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