Vodafone Unveils First TV/ Radio Mobile Phone
Vodafone strikes back! Those of you who have read this week’s Viewpoint will know that Toshiba is running silent and deep on its digital TV tuner mobile phones…but meantime they’ve come up with Japan’s first TV/ Radio phone for…Vodafone! Wow! The V401T beats NEC’s groundbreaking V601N, Japan’s first TV mobile phone, in several important areas. First; the 2.2 inch screen is upgraded to QVGA; second, the V401T is also capable of 12 minutes of program recording time; and third of course, there is the radio…They’ve actually gone and done it. Cool!!!… And now the caveats.
Well, of course, some major and dramatic breakthrough hasn’t yet happened with battery drain, an issue that’s being attacked furiously by Toshiba specifically to help the MBCO service, all of Japan’s mobile makers in general, and Samsung in particular. Bottom line, you’ve got 60 minutes of flat out telly watching on a fresh battery, then you are road kill as the demand of the tuner crushes the battery.
While Toshiba aims to have the silicon out to remedy this as early as 16 months from now, the company has, meanwhile, provided users with a low fuel warning and a limiter.
The second big issue is that the handset is NOT 3G. We asked Vodafone’s redoubtable PR representative Matthew Nicholson here for a comment on if and when a W-CDMA combo is coming, and, of course he wasn’t at liberty to answer.
Despite its lack of new handsets, one of the major reasons we believe that Vodafone K.K. has been picking up the wooden spoon for new adds over the last 6 months, at least the Big V branch office here is making what new models it does release count.
Remember, despite all the talk of paradigm shifts by DoCoMo’s Tachikawa, the carrier seems strongly against putting either TV or radio on phones, claiming that the lack of battery life makes the first feature shred all the work put in to get FOMA battery life up to 2G terminal specs. Then of course it can’t make any money off TV and the extra $250 or so to slap an antenna in takes subsidies up to the skies. KDDI, of course as the radio feature, but TV remains only on prototypes we’ve seen for now.
Vodafone K.K. won’t also comment on how many of the NECs have gone from shelves to pockets, although Nicholson-san assures us that the V601N is “one of the top selling models.”
As we prepare for the monthly figures coming in on new net adds, Vodafone K.K. seems to have launched a pre-emptive PR strike by touting the fact that the company has just surpassed 15 million subscribers as of March 2004.
That represents an increase of 5 million subscribersapproximately 2 years and 11 months after reaching the 10 million mark in April 2001, according to the company.
Also, at the end of March 2004 Vodafone K.K. had over 3 million subscribers with handsetscompatible with Movie Sha-mail, after passing the 2 million mark in June 2003, representing a 1 million increase in approximately 9 months. Theachievement also comes 2 years after the Movie Sha-mail service launch in March 2002.
If that sounds like time to break out the bubbly, we await the monthly net adds comparison that’s out shortly to get a more sober view of how Vodafone and, perhaps even more importantly, DoCoMo’s FOMA is doing against the KDDI WIN/ flat rate juggernaut.
— The Editors.