In all things mobile and wireless it has been a year of consolidation, launches, wireless everywhere and some familiar battles between well-known standards and companies. But 2004 was also 12 months where some of us became a little more sophisticated in how we use mobile devices and even the higher-ups learned — sometimes the hard way — that this remains one of tech’s most exciting areas, one that can make a real difference to the bottom line.
Two new top-level domain names moved closer to approval this week, as the body charged with overseeing the Internet’s technical matters moved into negotiations with the companies applying to set up and run the “.mobi” and “.jobs” domains. .Mobi is sponsored by Microsoft, Nokia, and Vodafone Group, who hope to target the domain specifically at mobile content and service providers as well as mobile device manufacturers, vendors and individual companies.
After a quick check to make double sure this isn’t some twisted April Fool joke (guess not), it seems that the folks over at Sanrio have managed to license their famous Hello Kitty character to (gasp!) Nokia [.jpg image]. Apparently coming in mid-December for Cingular “Pay-as-you-Go” customers, this predictably pink handset touts exclusive games, wallpapers and ring-tones. We bet there will be a rush of Oba-san shoppers rushing around to get a hold of one here in Japan.
Hitachi Ltd., a major electrical machinery manufacturer, and Renesas Technology Corp., a microcontroller producer equally owned by Hitachi and Mitsubishi Electric Corp., have developed system-chip technology that can reduce the power consumption of cellular phones during standby time by 90%, the companies said Monday. The technology will enable mobile phone batteries to last 10 times longer with a single recharge, thereby extending their standby time to a maximum of about 30 days from the current two to three days, they said.
The combination of terrestrial digital broadcasting and mobile phone technology is what the developers want to be used for sending evacuation orders and alarm information to people during large-scale disasters. KDDI Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. are jointly developing a terminal equipped with GPS, while various levels of government are paying keen attention to that possibility. KDDI and NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc. are in the final stage of development to lead the industry, services to mobile phone are scheduled to begin during fiscal 2005.
Dilithium Networks, the leader in 3G video telephony solutions for the world’s mobile and broadband industries, announced today that it has successfully demonstrated its new AnswerFastTM Plus technology, over live 3G networks in the UK and Australia. With AnswerFastTM Plus, Dilithium Networks successfully demonstrated that video calls can be set up in less than 1 second, resulting in call setup times that are comparable to those of voice calls. Present 3G terminals typically take 6-10 seconds to completely establish the audio and video channels.
ACCESS has announced that TCL Mobile Communications, China’s second largest cellphone maker, has adopted ACCESS’s browser NetFront for its TCL1688 handset, the first BREW mobile phone released in China. The TCL1688 is supplied to China Unicom. Used widely worldwide in digital consumer appliances, NetFront supports WML, HTML, cHTML, and WAP2.0.
Since October 2001, when DoCoMo turned on its 3G network, the company’s revenue from data services has risen 27.9 percent, with customers now spending 1,970 yen, or $18.69, a month on average. Data now makes up nearly one-quarter of DoCoMo customers’ monthly bills. But the extra sales did not make up for the decline in revenue from voice calls over that period. As a result, overall spending by DoCoMo customers has fallen 6.9 percent in the past three years.
Sony’s new-wave handheld PSP game device breaks on Japanese shores 12 December, see the WWJ video here. Unfortunately, anyone beyond the Land of the Rising Sun will have to wait until March (maybe) to get their hands on one. Those with a wad of yen (dollars or Euros) to spend, though, can plunk it down right now on another Sony entertainment gizmo — one that sits on your lap instead of in your palm. Enhanced wireless connections have Sony’s newest version of their PC pooch Aibo sitting up and playing music, taking photos and dancing to a wireless beat.
Admittedly, ‘Robot as Pet’ is still a difficult concept to get around. Sure, some people prefer the touch of cold, hard metal on their skin rather than fluffy fur — but generally they don’t answer to the name ‘Pet Lover.’ (Though they may follow similar commands, “Sit! Beg!”) Even Sony seemed to realize their dog ‘bot needed more to justify its high price than just playing fetch and lurching slowly (very slowly) after its little plastic ball. The company has redesigned and repositioned the shiny ERS M2 version of Aibo as an enhanced audiovisual machine.
KDDI and Fujistu have introduced a prototype smart phone, or “hybrid information terminal,” that will be available to visitors attending the Aichi World Expo 2005, which begins here in March and runs through to the end of September. The ‘Love and Mate’ [.jpg] (yes, that’s what they’re calling it) handset comes in Orange and Blue; both feature Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition for PocketPC software for PDA and phone operation, and Windows Media Player 9. This is one of the first deployments of Windows on a phone in Japan.