Wherein WWJ staff line up a sexy, passion-red, brand-spanking new J-T08 from Toshiba- with a stunning LCD display – against a dowdy, dull-silver, two-year-old Panasonic P209iS in the handset grudge match of the year! We also toss a Sharp SH-52 camera phone into the ring… Japan’s pocket rockets have come a long way, baby, and it’s tough to beat the Tosh’s sleek lines, world-beating LCD screen, and silky smooth sound. Like their automaker brethren of a generation ago, does this lop-sided fight mean that Japan’s handset makers have mastered the art of ‘continuous improvement?’ We think so – and this program shows you why.
KDDI Corp. reported group net profit of 30.87 billion yen for the fiscal third quarter, while boosting its full-year-earnings forecast by five billion yen, citing healthy consumer demand for its flagship “au” mobile-phone service, lower marketing costs, and restructuring. For the quarter ended Dec. 31, KDDI posted sales of 695.08 billion yen and operating profit of 56.80 billion yen.
I’ll be the first to cheer when even one of Japan’s mobile Internet troika offer substantial per-event traffic billing regardless of number of packets. Realistically, this probably won’t happen on the 2G networks (the spike in usage would swamp the systems, yada, yada, yada), so the interesting question is: which 3G network will offer re-event billing the first? And which will subsequently offer flat-rate? Don’t be surprised if it’s KDDI with their CDMA technology.
Update: How about that!
A report by the National Police Agency found that a record 122,115 people were victimized through illegal loans in 2002, suffering a combined loss of about 15.98 billion yen. Police said the incidents often involved dealers lending small sums of money over and over again.
Cees van den Heijkant, CEO of KPN Mobile The Netherlands, knows wireless Internet almost better than DoCoMo does. His company studied the model, stripped it down to basics, and last April birthed a bouncing baby i-mode that now claims over 200,000 subscribers (starting with only a single, less-than-spectacular handset, no less). Not bad for a process that took a year-and-a-half, required entirely new thinking on how to manage data services, and involved a lot of effort to, as he puts it, “understand how you’re going to bring the content to the customers.” Don’t miss this program!
The level of roaming in particular is a new feature for the market, and they face a sales challenge in figuring out how to sell this to a high-end business crowd – radically unlike J-Phone’s traditional youth target. But I think that today, almost 4 years after the invention of i-mode, provision of wireless Internet is an absolute requirement for success in the Japan market, and the absence of J-Sky access – both Web and mail – with some ill-defined “later in 2003” target is a major weakness.
Dr. Kamel Maamaria, head of telecoms practice at consultancy AT Kearney, says that lots of people – especially in Europe – have tried to brush off the i-mode model as ‘a Japanese thing.’ But he says that no other model has shown that operators can make money from content. “Vodafone launching V live! is one of the best things that ever happened to DoCoMo – because what Vodafone is doing validates the i-mode model,” he adds. Watch Part I of our in-depth report highlighting Gurus and Deep Thinkers from this month’s 3G Mobile World Forum.
“Camera phone penetration is increasing. With the newest handsets – particularly in DoCoMo’s case – the packet downloads have just surged. So you’ve got much higher packet usage – two to three times higher now on the camera phones,” says CSFB sr. telecoms analyst Mark Berman. Watch our 2003 kick-off program as we pick the brain of one of Tokyo’s most respected industry watchers on what to expect in ’03. DoCoMo, KDDI, J-Phone, ARPU, data trends, and multimedia: these are a few of our favorite things!