Year: <span>2005</span>
Year: 2005

Wireless Watch Japan – Top Stories for 2005

Wireless Watch Japan - Top Stories for 2005We published 596 articles on Wireless Watch Japan in 2005 and thought you might enjoy looking back at the most popular Japan mobile industry highlights from the year. The links below, three from each month, represent the two top stories (by volume of visitor requests) and a third which we consider a significant development in that 30-day period.

It’s been a year of explosive year in the mobile world and 2006 is set to be even much more interesting with faster mobile networks, more powerful handsets and compelling contents settling into the mainstream. Here in Japan, we are expecting a dramatic increase in m-commerce adoption, driven in part by Mobile Suica’s launch, set for later in January and the start of ‘One-Seg’ digital TV broadcasting starting — on all three carriers — on 1 April (no joke). We also see a potential increase in churn as a result of the (belated) introduction of number portability and with three new carriers entering the market, even DoCoMo is concerned.

One of the more obvious action areas in 2006 will be the increase of M&A activity at all levels; in particular, look for consolidation in the Japanese handset market. Meanwhile, lets boldly predict that we’ll have at least a few 3.5G (HSDPA) phones on the streets of Tokyo by this time next year. Interesting times ahead, indeed. Get all the skinny after the jump!

NEC Considers Handset Merger

NEC Corp. is hoping to tie or merge its cell phone business with that of another Japanese handset maker within the next 6 months, its president said in an interview published Tuesday in a Japanese newspaper. President Akinobu Kanasugi told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that he wants to find a domestic partner for his company’s cell phone business. He has ruled out working with a foreign cell phone maker because NEC has a large amount of 3G-related technology and know-how that was gained with NTT DoCoMo and other domestic partners, he said.

DoCoMo to Release New 2G Handsets

NTT DoCoMo is set to release two new 2G models early next year, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. Quoting company sources, the move is aimed at preventing DoCoMo’s subscribers from switching to rival phone companies because of communication issues for its FOMA 3G phones in some rural areas. It added that the new models would be developed and produced by Panasonic Mobile Communications and NEC Corp.

Sanyo Markets Wireless Broadband

Sanyo Electric Co. announced it will begin marketing a wireless broadband communications system it has developed jointly with Soma Networks Inc., a U.S. venture business for broadband solutions. Sanyo will initially develop and produce transmitting and receiving equipment, ground stations and other devices for the system before providing the service of creating telecom systems. Sanyo has already won an order to supply a system to a telecom operator in the Cayman Islands.

KDDI to Study Qualcomm's MediaFlo

KDDI will establish a planning firm to study the potential of alternate mobile TV broadcasting business opportunities with Qualcomm Japan, according to press release posted today. The joint venture, headed by President and Representative Director Masuda Kazuhiko, will launch on 27 December with 10 employees. Media Flow Japan, will be capitalized at 10 million yen, of which 80 percent will be put up by KDDI and 20 percent by Qualcomm. The joint venture will ask the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry for a frequency assignment after considering the profitability and service contents of the new business, as well as targeting a possible start date in late 2006.

Bluetooth Cell-Phone Santa Brings Seasons Greetings!

Bluetooth Cell-Phone Santa Brings Seasons Greetings!Here’s a fun web video for everyone to enjoy from all of us here at Wireless Watch Japan! We stopped by KDDI’s Designing Studio in Harajuku yesterday afternoon with our long list of groovy gadgets we wanna have for Christmas and to sit on their robot Santa’s knee. As it turns out, maybe we’re getting a bit too big for that — but it was fun anyway! Dressed up for the holidays, this robo Santa-san unit made a splash during the 2005 International Robot Exhibition held recently at Tokyo BigSite. According to Designing Studio’s Manager Natsuko Kimura, the robo Santa was created by KDDI’s partner company I Bee K.K., which develops products based on Bluetooth technology. While we were there, it seemed like a good idea to send best wishes to our faithful WWJ visitors, recorded from under KDDI’s three-story tall Christmas tree.

ITunes Japan Adds Another Label

Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes Music Store Japan will be gaining more content from Wednesday with the addition of songs from Victor Entertainment Inc. The recording label, which is affiliated with Victor Co. of Japan Ltd. (JVC), will add 18 albums totalling 209 tracks to Apple’s online music distribution service, it said. The tracks cover mainly Japanese domestic artists.

Major Mobile Commerce Trials Announced

Major Mobile Commerce Trials AnnouncedA group of major m-commerce companies announced a large-scale U.S. trial last week to include contactless payment, mobile content and premium arena services at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The companies claim the trial will be the first large-scale test of next-generation mobile-phone applications in North America. The grouping includes Chase, Cingular Wireless, Nokia, Philips, Visa USA and others. The contactless payment functionality will be based on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology first developed by Sony and Philips. Other NFC trials are underway in Germany and France.

Wireless Watchers will know that the Sony/Philips NFC technology is also powering the super-successful “FeliCa”-branded mobile contactless payment services in Japan and has been adopted by NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Vodafone as the de facto market standard for m-commerce, e-wallets, transportation and other peer-to-peer data transfer services. Sony first deployed NFC on the Octopus card in Hong Kong in 1997 and rolled their mobile handset trial ran in Japan in December 2003 — see WWJ video here. Today, over 7 million FeliCa-enabled phones have already been sold by DoCoMo alone.

One might think the two-year jump on deployment and commercial experience, not to mention brand equity, in Japan would motivate Sony to transplant an obvious success story from Tokyo to markets elsewhere. Instead, it looks like the wheel is being reinvented all over again.

DoCoMo to Buy Stake in Fuji TV

Fuji Television Network Inc., Japan’s biggest broadcaster, said it’s in talks to sell a stake to NTT DoCoMo Inc. Tokyo-based Fuji confirmed the negotiations in a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, following a Nihon Keizai newspaper report saying DoCoMo is in talks to buy a 3 percent stake in the broadcaster for about 20 billion yen ($171 million). Fuji Television may sell treasury stock to DoCoMo, the newspaper reported, without saying who provided the information.

Vodafone Releases 804SH Wallet-Phone

Vodafone K.K. announced today that it will commence sales of the Vodafone 804SH [ .jpg image ], a new 3G handset by Sharp, on 22 December 2005 in the Chugoku and Shikoku regions, and all other regions on 17 January 2006. The 804SH has a new contrasting design with the upper and under body of the handset featuring “different forms and material feel”. The 804SH also features ‘Custom Screens’ for menu screen icon and wallpaper customisation, allowing customers to express their individuality from the display screen. This is the carriers second Osaifu-Keitai (mobile wallet) handset with embedded IC-chip to support Vodafone live! FeliCa and their first 3G phone with the Motion Control Sensor that responds to movements.