Sign of the Times
Sign of the Times

The Android Magic Launch in Japan

DoCoMo rolled-out the very first Android powered device in Japan today, labeled as the HT-03A, with somewhat less fan-fare than other product launches (cough-cough: iPhone) we’ve seen in the past. Besides the obvious absence of long line-ups full of eager gadget geeks, we find nothing on Google News (strange considering who runs that show) and very little so far on the main Japanese tech sites. Basically, Abracadabra – Boo! – it’s surprisingly quiet here on the eastern front.

Custom QR Code for Marc Jacobs Japan

Those talented and hyper-creative folks over at SET Japan keep cranking out the stylish QR codes with the un-veiling of their new creation for Marc Jacobs Japan. According to this announcement the latest design is a hand-drawn feature of the company mascot – Miss Marc – and will be used to drive traffic to their newly minted mobile website which launches today. Talk about style meets function.. Nice One!

QR Code Book with Twitter Feed

You just gotta love this simple yet effective innovation. An online bookstore in Brazil launched a campaign using a new exclusive book with only QR Codes inside.. so far so cool. However, the ‘never ending story’ routinely pulls keywords from Twitter feeds to keep updating the content! The first edition is already sold-out and they are looking at this platform now for future concepts as well. No doubt the good folks over at Denso Wave would be thrilled to hear about this one.

Girls Mobile SNS to Farm for Boys

CyberAgent introduced an unusual mobile SNS platform last month, sensing spring was in the air, targeted at women shopping for a husband. The angle appears to be that ladies create an account, adding portrait profiles of all the guys they know, to share details within their ‘hopefully growing’ network of like-minded girl friends. The twist here – in cute icon loving land – is that the boys are represented as lambs, cows or horses depending on their flirty, lazy or agressive nature.. can you imagine! Any bets on how long until someone comes up with the jungle version of this dude ranch?

The Worlds Largest Cell Phone Strap!

SoftBank has introduced a summer campaign, targeted at attracting new users, offering coupons and gift certificates along with the largest keitai strap you’ve (n)ever seen! Their mascot, ‘Oto-san’ who is a hugely popular canine celebrity via the companies cheeky TV commercials, is available as a 30cm tall stuffed toy (see the video here) to the lucky few who can answer a set of skill-testing questions. As an added bonus if you squeeze his tail expect him to speak with one of ten – snarly albeit fatherly – different lines of advice. btw: this episode of the family dinner table discussion about going to Hawaii is just Classic! If you enjoy that, then see the entire TVCM video gallery Here.

PSP Mobile Phone Rumor Season

We’ve always wondered when, not if, the PSP would finally have voice functionality added and the rumors are heating up again as a result of a recent FT article quoting Sony Ericsson President Hideki Komiyama. While it would seem clear the company will roll out the PSP2 model – without the UMD drive – at E3 in LA next month, his comments were somewhat less clear “could happen” regarding the PlayStation mobile phone. We hope they make the splash here – Again – at TGS in September instead!

WiMax in Japan Looking Down on 3G

According to this report filed from the recent WiMAX Forum Congress Asia event in Singapore, Takeshi Tanaka – president of UQ Communications – is quoted; “People are beginning to think that cellular internet is fake.. the browser is limited, the content and performance are limited, and so are the screen sizes. This is our opportunity to differentiate from the 3G style”. So, the gloves are off!

Hitachi Releases Gazopa Image Search

Hitachi has announced the beta release of GazoPa, an iPhone app which allows users to search for similar images on the web by uploading any photo captured with camera on iPhone, will be available free at Apple’s iPhone App Store. This makes it possible for users to search for images similar to the items in front of them since GazoPa uses image features such as color and/or shape, users can look for images without typing any words.

Dell Making MVNO Move in Japan?

Mark over at TechRadar has a post on recent rumblings by Dell in the UMPC space. We have seen the increasing push to sell flat-rate data subscriptions – primed by ‘free’ mini laptop hooked to two-year contract – over the last six months (from all operators offering several OEM models) but this is the first whiff of an MVNO play. According to the article, machine will go on sale here this summer with internal HSDPA cards which allow max. downlink speeds of 7.2Mbps for an estimated $500. While there is no indication of on-going access fees, the current typical all you can surf account runs about $40 per month. Now that would be interesting!

Engagement Marketing with QR Codes & 1Seg

Lux is running a very cool campaign in Shibuya this week utlizing 1Seg digital TV broadcasting with huge QR Codes on ad posters. They have setup a temporary display, outside ‘the’ fashion central 109 building, which calls for users to scan the code in order to get instructions on how they can tune-in (spotcasting on channel 34) for more details. The content awaiting them includes a mobile micro-site with a promotional tv commercial, featuring Catherine Zeta-Jones, along with a slick call-to-action for trendy girls to audition for a future campaign.