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Natsuno and Ai Kato Launch 505i; and WWJ – Facing a Transition

Herewith, I’d like to query you, the loyal and keen WWJ readers (some 30% of whom are in Europe, according to last fall’s subscriber survey), on what an outsider needs to know about Europe’s mobile Internet. What are the companies, technologies, business models, and content services serving to boost the future? What – and who – matters most? Which will triumph: i-mode or Vodafone Live? Can Japanese terminal makers kick their way into the market? And will the Open Mobile Alliance boost Europe’s wireless industry far ahead of Japan’s – given sufficient buy-in from content providers and software creators?

A Startup Renaissance is Building in Japan

There’s plenty of chatter about the global startup scene along with so-called ‘innovation’ opportunities and many challenges faced by players at all levels in that space. It would be easy to pepper this with a gazillion links to material describing how Japan is risk-adverse and/or has no VC base to build next-gen. companies.. bla-bla-bla. Such simplistic points, seldom well balanced, need another post to counter with a wave of my magic reality wand.

No, the tight focus today is two-fold: we are headed into a “Startup Renaissance” in Japan and, therefore, considering carefully near to mid-term road ahead with that being the case.

Japan Telecom at ITU World 2009

ITU World 2009 runs again this year, Oct. 5 – 9 in Geneva, with 18 Japanese Telecom leaders on-hand to discuss ICTs for economic growth. With its focus on development opportunities, the event brings together corporate social responsibility and displays cases of best practices. As always it looks to be a fantastic high-level gathering and we hope to be there!

DoCoMo Summer Series Handset Launch

Stepping forward with a spring in their stride market leader NTT DoCoMo introduced 18 new handsets for their Summer series at a presser here in the Prince hotel this week. Along with these latest models, which included the rumored HTC Magic Android unit, big D also announced a few interesting service additions. Of course WWJ was on the scene, slightly foggy from our MoMo Tokyo event the night before, and will post our thoughts – including link to video – for the paid members after the jump. Meanwhile, you can get a peek at the new offerings via their new flash website and the basic specs in English from official .pdfs with the original press release Here.

Mobile World Congress 2009 – Video Reports

Mobile World Congress 2009 - Video ReportsHola – we are finally back in the groove here from our MWC adventure last month. The congress was chaos as usual this year with the predictable rush of news, presentations and evening event hopping. While attendence YoY was down, almost 50,000 players managed the annual trek and, like many, we made some fantastic connections. Yoroshiku!

Even though the main stage keynotes were, to be polite, ‘not valuable’ we were inspired by the opening address from Anssi Vonjoki at the Mobile Peer Awards. Indeed, these are the times when winners are built. Also of note, the Father of imode, and now professor at Keio University, Takeshi Natsuno gave a well-documented video presentation titled Toward Global Evolution of the Mobile Industry. The opening remarks suggested that his comments might seem controversial and that since leaving DoCoMo last spring; “I am enjoying a happy life.. just because now I can say whatever I believe”. That 20-mins was far more insightful, especially considering the caliber of delegates attending, than all of the other CEO dog & pony shows we saw – combined. While on the topic of Japanese innovation, we bumped into Masahiro Ito from YAPPA, our interview with him last spring is Here, and got a quick on-cam. demo of some of their latest UI offerings. The company apparently has major news coming later this month at the Game Developers Conference and were in Barcelona to promote the launch of their Spin UI Developers Network portal.

In summary we saw glimmers of hope, from the largest and smallest of companies, caught-up with existing clients while meeting some new prospects, had a blast at several of the mixer events and will never forget living like the locals for a week 😎

DoCoMo Announces New Management

DoCoMo announced that the board of directors has met and proposed changes in executive positions for official approval at the shareholders and board of directors meetings scheduled to be held on June 20, 2008. Most notably the replacement of President and CEO Masao Nakamura who will hand over the helm after 4-years to Ryuji Yamada. Also noted as officially resigning, and widely reported, SVP Takeshi Natsuno. A quick trip down memory lane after the jump.

The Father of i-mode to Leave DoCoMo

Takeshi Natsuno, famed father of the i-mode platform is set to step down, according to reports in the Japanese media. “He is going to be leaving the company at the end of April,” an informed source in DoCoMo told AFP. The writing was on the wall when he was not front and center – as usual – hosting the 905i-series launch here last November. “Marking another notable difference from previous line-up introductions was the absence of Natsuno-san, famed ‘father of i-mode’ and always energetic MC, from the stage” WWJ reported at the time.