Video Programs
Video Programs

Disney Launches Mobile Social Network

Disney Launches Mobile Social NetworkWe’re thrilled to see Walt Disney Japan step into the mobile social networking space in March with this announcement [in Japanese only] for their public launch — on all three carriers’ official portals — of Wonder Days. In the most simple terms it looks very much like Habbo Hotel meets Mickey Mouse, however you need not take our word for it.. watch WWJ’s first-to-web video demo. and see for yourself!

It’s no surprise that many of the popular and established fixed-line service offerings have been making the leap onto Japan’s wireless web. Tokyo-based DeNA has several perfect examples for auctions and social networking with Mobaoku and Mobage-town respectively. Moba (game) Town is a free service, and available only on mobile, which has attracted just over 3 million members since it’s launch last summer. The hook was to provide free games, with over 30 titles to choose from, supported by advertising and micro-purchases — using MobaGold — for premium avatars. In the same way that instant messenging and presence of friends applies to online products (like the Twitter craze) it’s easy to see the evolution of mobile communities connecting anywhere and anytime will become a defacto standard for the next-generation.

New Mobile Phones for Kids Rock!

New Mobile Phones for Kids Rock!I was talking to my accountant last week; she’s a smart, self-employed mid-career professional with a husband and kids and she’s definitely one of the more practical-minded Europeans I know. We were talking about ‘handys’ (keitai, in Germany), and I told her about the huge success the mobile Internet and 3G are having (still) in Japan, versus the perception in Europe that no one’s making a single (Euro) cent on UMTS. Her reaction was typical, but interesting: “I’m not going to use the phone for sending mail or anything but talking. The keypad is far too tiny. It’s just not in the mindset of my generation.”

Interestingly, she added: “Perhaps if our kids started using them [data-enabled mobile phones] early, they’d grow up thinking about using it for all that mail and stuff. I’d buy a data handy for my daughter…” I jumped right in, and told her “that’s exactly what’s happening in Japan.” Of course, Wireless Watchers like the smart readers of this newsletter know that the success factors behind mobile usage didn’t (and don’t) depend on youth growing up with i-mode.

Tegic Communications Launches T9 Discovery Tool

Tegic Communications Launches T9 Discovery ToolTegic Communications has announced the availability of their new T9 Discovery Tool, a software application that will allow consumers to locate or discover content and information, whether on their cellphone or on the mobile web, in just a few keystrokes. Wireless Watch Japan caught up with Tony De Ruvo, director of product marketing, at the recent Marcus Evans 3G Forum here in Tokyo for an advanced preview and chat on-camera about the new product.

Of course, many people in the industry believe that complex menu navigation and portal designs are a major obstacle to accessing content and services, and consider this to be a limiting factor to greater data service uptake and growth. According to the company press release, the T9 Discovery Tool uses unique insights that Tegic has gained from shipping their T9 predictive text entry software in 62 languages on over two billion phones to make mobile search and discovery fast and easy.

The Discovery Tool search interface can be instantly activated from the idle screen, delivering immediate access to menu areas, applications and stored content on the device and to operator content and services held on the network. Improving the speed, discovery, and re-use of operator services, this new tool may help open up new revenue opportunities for carriers by making it dramatically easier for consumers to discover or search for content and services, whether held on or off the operator portal.

Video Report from the Global 3G Forum in Tokyo

Video Report from the Global 3G Forum in TokyoMarcus Evans held their 6th edition of the annual Global 3G Forum from 22nd to 25th January here in Japan “… the most successful test bed for new mobile technologies and products”. Wireless Watch was on-hand, as usual, to meet some of the brightest minds in the business and we caught-up again with well-known telecoms author, consultant and all-round very smart thinker Tomi Ahonen**. Our video interview with him at the 3G Forum last year is Here.

According to Tomi, the big news from 2006 centered on the rest of the world finally breaking away from the panic about 3G, the largest infrastructure investment ever. “In 2005 there was alot of despair and worry about whether 3G would happen.. then in 2006 3G started to roll-out everywhere and countries like Japan and South Korea reached 50% penetration.” The other notable development he mentioned was digital communities and their migration for mobile. He goes on to quote Informa’s recent report which estimated social networking revenues on mobile at $3.5 Billion in 2006.

While it should be no surprise that he predicts mobile commerce will be a major topic in 2007, find out why, and indeed what else he’s expecting in the foreseeable future. Tomi’s a well-tuned voice in the mobile business and we always enjoy spending some time to hear what’s on his mind.. enjoy the show.

We also managed to get Tony DeVuro, Director of Product Marketing, from AOL Mobile on camera for a chat about the new service they will be announcing next month. Stay tuned for that.

Wireless Watch Japan's Web Video Triple Play

Wireless Watch Japan’s Web Video Triple PlayIt’s been a fairly hectic six weeks for Japan’s mobile industry and therefore also for us here at WWJ. Starting with the Tokyo Game Show here in late September, followed in short order by CEATEC and DoCoMo’s new 903i-series launch — and combined with the MNP (mobile number portability) official launch on 24 October — it’s been crazy.

Your WWJ staff have also been deep into planning next week’s Mobile Intelligence Japan (MIJ) mission, due to start on Sunday afternoon and we have over 250 folks registered for our next Mobile Monday event at the Canadian embassy on Monday 13 November! Phew!

We know how much everyone enjoys watching our web video programs and so we’ve bundled a few together that were finally produced over the last little while. The Tokyo Game Show was, as always and then some, a super event this year, celebrating their 10th anniversary and was held at Makuhari Messe; WWJ saw previews of DoCoMo’s 903i “Mega Games” while KDDI was running a massive (mobile) multiplayer Bomberman exhibit and SoftBank Mobile stepped out if full force with a wide selection of games targeted at Sharp’s 905SH handset.

Also, we have added our video coverage from DoCoMo’s new 903i-series launch, which introduced a whopping 14 new handsets complete with some interesting 3G data service upgrades as well.

Finally, DoubleClick Japan introduced their “Mobile MK” software and were kind enough to show us a full demo. — Yoroshiku!

NTT DoCoMo Announces New 3G, HSDPA Phones

NTT DoCoMo Announces New 3G, HSDPA PhonesNTT DoCoMo, Inc. and its eight regional subsidiaries today announced 14 new 3G FOMA handsets, including the 903i-series, the ‘SIMPURE’ series and N902iL. All 11 new 903i handsets provide a wide range of entertainment functions, said the company. They are equipped for DoCoMo’s Chaku-Uta Full full-track music-downloading service. Five models can play tracks transferred from PCs that were used to download music from sites such as Napster Japan, which offers unlimited access to approximately 1.5 million downloadable tracks for a flat rate. HSDPA-capable models work with the Music Channel service, which enables up to two music programs to be downloaded automatically during the night, and the expanded i-motion video clip for downloading up to 10MB files. All models are compatible with Mega i-appli rich applications, and some are also equipped for “One-segment” digital terrestrial broadcasting.

The new 903i-series offer a number of improved conveniences for daily life. They have IC cards with triple the storage capacity of conventional models, and they come preinstalled with software required to use DoCoMo’s DCMX mobile credit card on DoCoMo’s iD platform. Six 903i models are equipped for the Keitai-Osagashi Service, a GPS service that enables a misplaced handset to be located with a PC.

Video Round-up: Ultra-cool Mobile Tech at Tokyo's CEATEC 2006

Video Round-up: Ultra-cool Mobile Tech at Tokyo’s CEATEC 2006Last week, Tokyo’s annual CEATEC show (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) was once again a showcase for some of the coolest mobile technology on Planet Earth. Today’s video round-up features audio QR, Fujitsu’s ‘UB Wall‘ – an ultra-high-tech, one-to-one customized video advertising display – and FP codes, and – not to be missed – NTT DoCoMo’s 3G mobile-based ‘Drunk Driver’ detector, apparently in high demand by bus companies and trucking firms.

Organizers said that the consumer electronics event drew 550,732 during the public days, 4-7 October, while WWJ ducked in out of the torrential rain during the press & industry day on 3 October, when the crowds weren’t quite as waku (wild).

WWJ thinks the FP codes (essentially, invisible barcodes) and audio QR technology stands a pretty good chance of fast adoption, given the masses of rabid advertising agencies out there trying to capitalize on the growing popularity of (a) camera phones that grab info via QR code and (b) digital broadcasting. An audio QR code is simply broadcast as metadata in a digital audio signal, such that the browser displays text, a clickable URL or other advertising message while you listen to a radio or tv program on a suitably enabled mobile phone. But for sheer outdoor-advertising-meets-mobile marketing genius, the UB Wall can’t be beat!

Windows Live Messenger for Mobile

Windows Live Messenger for MobileAfter 6 months of beta offering the Windows Live Messenger official PC version became available for upgrade & download in June this year. Together with this latest release, the company also introduced a mobile Java Appli for DoCoMo customers using FOMA 3G handsets. WWJ met with Ho Chang, Product Manager for Windows Live at Microsoft Japan, to take a test drive on the companies Live Messenger for BREW due to be available on selected KDDI/au devices later this month. Also note, Mr. Chang made a presentation earlier this year to Mobile Monday Tokyo and his powerpoint presentation is available Here.

Just like the PC version, it will enable users to sign-in, exhange text messages – including emicons – with their existing contact list, check and send email (Hotmail), show their online presence and display name all in real-time. According to Ho, the entire certification process took about one-year from their intial proposal to the carrier for planning, testing and product release. However, the final offering is “far more robust than whats available in the U.S.” running a faster network with a larger app. on the latest BREW version. Targeted at flat-rate data customers the app. will not come pre-installed but will be offered as a free download it will be the first Microsoft app. deployed on KDDI’s official menu.

Mobile Entertainment Forum Presentations on Video

Mobile Entertainment Forum Presentations on VideoNaviblog Corp., which showcased their local search and location-based information sharing technology at Mobile Monday Tokyo in May, gave a very entertaining presentation at the Mobile Entertainment Forum, part of the recent Wireless Japan 2006 trade show. In the presentation, Naviblog CEO & President Mandali Khalesi explained their browser-based approach to mobile products in more detail.

Naviblog is a finalist for this year’s Red Herring Asia 100, an award program recognizing the most promising and innovative private technology companies with high growth potential in Asia.

We also have clip of the opening remarks from Qualcomm’s Ted Matsumoto, one of Japan’s and Asia’s most knowledgeable mobile thinkers!

DoCoMo Ready to Roll HTC Smartphone

DoCoMo Ready to Roll HTC SmartphoneNTT DoCoMo and High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) recently announced that they will start sales in late July of their new “hTc Z” smartphone, equipped with the Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 Japanese-edition operating system. The hTc Z will enable a variety of useful mobile business solutions using Windows Server and Exchange Server, in addition to 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and many add-in applications. DoCoMo plans to sell the handsets to corporate customers as part of its “comprehensive business solutions” effort.

We have a quick hands-on demo video for you on this one shot at DoCoMo’s booth during last weeks Wireless Japan event out at Tokyo BigSite. The full specs [.pdf] are available Here.