DoCoMo Presser: Notes from the Future
DoCoMo Presser: Notes from the Future

DoCoMo Presser: Notes from the Future

DoCoMo Presser: Notes from the Future

President Nakamura faced the Tokyo press on September 30 and did… not too bad a job. In a wide-ranging presentation followed by Q&A, he covered fuel cell R&D (commercialization after FY 2006), Softbank’s moves to obtain 3G spectrum (vacating the spectrum tomorrow “cannot be done”), and Big D’s global strategy (with a dual-mode GSM/W-CDMA handset, you can access both). Nakamura also talked about churn, competition with KDDI/au, and the possibility of abandoning pre-paid services. A post-fall IR Roadshow program that’s not to be missed.

After his first, obviously uncomfortable, performance in front of the press (back in June), fledgling president and CEO Masao Nakamura has clearly spent some time with the PR pros. The September 30 press event at the Otemachi Press Centre, coming on the heels of the company’s fall IR Roadshow [.PDF], was much improved. And the boss actually seemed to enjoy himself!

You’ll have to watch the full program to get all the gen, but some of the highlights include:

3G fuel-cell research — based on methanol cells — appears to be on track. Nakamura said they “aim to increase capacity and reduce size,” and that commercialization should come “after [FY] 2006.” He added: “The mission of our research laboratories is very significant and they are beginning to produce tangible results. We have high expectations.”

FeliCa is obviously central to all new handset and service plans. Nakamura said that not all new 901i-series FOMA models will necessarily have FeliCa enabled, but he confirmed that “going forward, almost all handsets will be equipped with FeliCa.” We guess certain models (the ruggidized outdoor phone for hiking, the Raku Raku phone for old folks) will not have Felica for reasons of complexity or ease of use.

But as mobile usage researcher Philip Sugai mentioned during last week’s Mobile Intelligence presentation, try asking DoCoMo customers how many **don’t wish** to have FeliCa… or don’t wish to run the risk of loosing value stored on the phone if it gets lost or becomes attractive to thieves. He feels that a significant number of customers could be alienated by FeliCa.

Flat-rate pricing has “nipped traffic [revenue] growth in the bud.” Yes — obviously! — but what will they (or any Japanese operator) do about it? This question must have come up a lot during the fall IR Roadshow. “Investors want to know what cell phone operators will be doing to realize the next phase of growth,” said Nakamura. “This applies to DoCoMo as well as au.” He explained they are now looking at “non-traffic-dependent business models,” including FeliCa and advertising.

Along these lines, we saw an utterly cool implementation of FeliCa created by K Labs during the MIT; an advertising sign has a programmable Felica reader/writer embedded in the frame and there’s a circle printed on the ad saying: “Place Mobile Felica phone here.” The phone then receives a blast of data that pops open the browser at the advertiser’s site; you can get more information, makes purchases, etc.

There is a lot more info in today’s program, so I’ll end off here and let you get on to watching it. Look for comments relating to prepaid cards used by crooks, Softbank’s pressure to open up 3G spectrum, and — a growing problem — churn. Just wait until number portability hits in ’06!!

— Daniel Scuka