WPC Expo 2003: 1st FOMA Intl. Video Call – DoCoMo Finally in the Drivers Seat?

WWJ was busy shooting video at Makahari Messe in Chiba last week, think telematics, wristphones and international FOMA videoconferencing. But enough teasing: The news we didn’t see elsewhere about the show was that DoCoMo, is – finally – taking telematics seriously, as we found in a quick interview with Hidenori Obara of DoCoMo’s ITS Business Promotion Office. Obara admitted that DoCoMo is “behind” KDDI, with the latter pushing all sorts of mobile-WLAN technologies to potentially hook into a slab of Japan’s 12.3 million in-auto car navigation (car nabi) systems. In a separate development, we heard that Seiko is adding a color screen, but not a camera function, on its Wristomo PHS phone. Unsurprisingly, they are not planning to mount a CCD chip because it’ll make the wearers’ wrist limp from the extra weight, and the extra battery power needed might be another issue. Tune in next week and see it all for yourself when we show FOMA’s first international video call, chat with DoCoMo’s Mariko Hanaoka, and get a peek at Panasonic’s next killer app. for camera phones everywhere!!

The Mobile Phone Number Portability Fairy Cometh

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan’s equivalent of The Financial Times or The Wall Street Journal, reported on Sunday September 7 that Japan will introduce number portability to keitai from 2005. If you’re not familiar with this system, it allows you tokeep your cell phone number when you switch between carriers and thus removes one of the significant barriers to jumping ship and signing up with a rival provider. Now call me a cynic if you like, but doesn’t it seem a little too convenient that this system is being introduced just as it is becoming difficult to sign up new subscribers?

Mobile Kaizen and Why Japan Still Matters

Conventional wisdom teaches that Japan’s mobile industry is at least 18 months in front of Europe (and years ahead of the US). That truism is no more, however, as Europe’s cellular carriers, handset makers, and wireless Internet content providers have sweated blood to catch up – and catch up they have indeed. Daniel Scuka is in Germany this fall where he’s helping WWJpartner Mobile Economy conduct a series of seminarsentitled “Mobile Kaizen in Japan” examining how Japan’s mobileindustry maintains its lead through the continuous roll-out of improvementsin all aspects of the wireless Internet.

The Sky's Possibly the Limit for Mobile Broadcasting Corp.

Japan is six months away from an exciting new multimedia mobile experience courtesyof satellite broadcasting. If this sounds like a curtain raising, rewritten press release circa 1996 previewing the impending launch of the then PerfecTV! digital satellitebroadcasting service, well there could be a parallel or two about the storywe predict will unfold with Mobile Broadcasting Corporation’s attempts,starting next spring, to beam.

V-Live vs. i-mode: Observations from Tokyo Big Sight

Tim Harrison’s speech was the highlight of Wireless Japan 2003 for many — an oasis of information in an otherwise dreary lineup of pat speeches by DoCoMo’s Tachikawa and KDDI’s Onodera. Harrison talked eloquently about the guiding principles that have let V-Live grow to 1.5 million, the lessons learned from Japan, and how their service is different from the domestically brilliant, and so far internationally dismal, performance of various i-modes.

What's Being Switched On in Japan's Wireless Biz

If any of you begin to note a slightly limey tone to future Viewpoints, it’s because the WWJ team has a new member, moi – Paul Kallender, as Tokyo correspondent. Take a look at my my bio. below and you will see that I am fully capable of deploying my creative weapons of article construction well within 45 minutes! I’ll be filing weekly with my take on the trends animating Japan’s mobile biz, as well as offering insight you can’t get from our competitors -most of whom either don’t live in Japan or are not actually independent journalists. I can’t follow in ex-editor-in-chief Daniel Scuka’s footsteps (partly because he’s in Germany and I’m in Japan), but I do hope you’ll bear with meas I attempt in my own way to “rip the faceplate” off Japan’s wireless industry. Given my Aikido background, I will be doing my best to at least throw some of the PR pap journalists have to rewrite into the digital dustbin of history. In short, come to WWJ for the stuff you can’t get elsewhere.

USA: Better than Europe for i-mode?

In the US, data speeds rock: “With my Sprint PCS service I’ve had long downloads with speeds of 59 to 84.4 kbps. In a video test I had a burst of up to 104 kbps.” But is culture significant? “People in the United States have less trouble talking to each other than do people in Japan – many teenagers here actually prefer sending mail to talking, not only because it’s cheaper, but because it’s easier for them to say what they want to say.”

Swamped by Euro Feedback – Now Let's Look at America

Go ahead and feel free to mail me with your notes on which US/Canadian companies, technologies, business models, and content services bear watching. Can m-mode delivered via GSM/GPRS by AT&T Wireless sweep the US? Or does the backwards compatibility and high speed of CDMA 1x technology have an overwhelming advantage – making the CDMA carriers the ultimate market winners? Republishing your collected, collective wisdom on the European and North American mobile Net markets in the final two WWJ newsletters strikes me as being the best way I can pay back your loyal readership and spread around some of the local-market knowledge that WWJ subscribers have amassed.

Tectonic Change in Japan's Mobile Handset Market

The past few days have seen Japan’s big electronic makers releasing their quarterly and semiannual results, and the news from Sony, NEC, Fujitsu, and others has been mostly bad where cell phones are concerned. There have also been a lot of media reports on Japan’s ailing phone tanmatsu (terminal) market, and it appears that majors changes are underway. First, the media reports. On October 10 JEITA announced that domestic shipments of cellular phones fell 18.3 percent in August 2002 from a year earlier to 3.26 million units. The drop resumed a 13-month-long decline that was only broken (briefly) in July 2002 due to sales of camera-equipped models. Moreover, shipments of PHS handsets fell by 64 percent to 73,000 units (extending their losing streak to 18months!).