Encouraging MediaFLO Survey Results

the first results from an extensive consumer survey of attitudes towards mobile TV. The survey, which was conducted by Accenture Japan and included more than 3,000 Japanese consumers, showed that subscribers are far more likely to take up mobile broadcast services when they experience it firsthand. Survey results after the jump.

[We noted in a recent WWJ newsletter that new digital tv spectrum allocation from the ministry is under review and the various lobby groups are in full motion to state their case — Eds]

Japan: The Future of Mobile Markets

Japan: The Future of Mobile Markets by Mobikyo KKAccording to an article on eMarketer, “What stands out in the Japanese mobile market is the fact that innovation is shifting toward business models and marketing tactics as opposed to technical features and functions … the explosion of non-official mobile content Web sites is causing the sun to set on the i-mode business model of a dominant mobile carrier selling incremental content and services to its user base,” says John du Pre Gauntt, eMarketer senior analyst.

There are several ‘gee-whiz’ statements in this summary, starting with “Marketers are looking to the Japanese mobile market as a model of the converged media future,” which are clearly designed to help sell their research report. However, we really must challenge outright some of the assurances offered. For example, the eMarketer quote above which states that “Innovation is shifting toward business models and marketing tactics as opposed to technical features and functions” is off-base on both counts.

The continued innovations from DoCoMo and the other carriers in network speed, handset design and content & service offerings speak volumes about the Japanese mobile market and the continued utterly fundamental role of the carrier in driving innovation. Granted, the increase in non-official content sites was obvious and predictable, given how easy the continuing carrier-led innovations make getting onto the mobile web for both providers and surfers. And the carriers have known this from Day 1 of i-mode.

KDDI's Sold 2 Million Digital TV Phones

If you stop somebody at the streets of Tokyo who is watching digital broadcasting TV on his mobile handset and ask who is his carrier provider, chances are high the answer will be KDDI au. Having started selling its first one-seg model — the Sanyo W33SA (discontinued) — in December 2005, KDDI au expanded its one-seg portfolio to 12 models, resulting in two million units sold as of February 23, 2007. According to GfK Japan, (as quoted in this KDDI press release — Eds) au group has sold more one-seg compatible handsets than its rivals, grabbing 59.96% of the total market share. WWJ has video demo. with one of KDDI’s early 1Seg. enabled models running Here.

eMobile Unveils SmartPhone & Flat-rate Price Plan

eMobile Unveils SmartPhone & Flat-rate Price Plan by Mobikyo KKeMobile announced their debut package offering – complete with terminals, data cards and flat-rate HSDPA price plan – today at a Tokyo press conference with company representatives joined by notable industry partners including Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, Darren Huston, CEO of Microsoft Japan, and Masafumi Matsumoto, representative director from Sharp. The upstart carrier’s founder, chairman and CEO, Sachio Semmoto (who was co-founder of DDI, which became KDDI), called their newly introduced Sharp EM-One smartphone, “the next-generation mobile broadband device” – which was “designed to deliver always-on broadband at a reasonable monthly flat-rate price.”

The new Sharp terminal is bound to be popular with the same crowd who lined-up to get Willcom’s Zero3 model, also made by Sharp, in late 2005. The EM-One is a touch-screen qwerty-keyboard dual-slider device sporting a 4-inch LCD screen with Japan’s first WVGA (800×480)-resolution screen and Windows Mobile 5.0 (with all the typical office functions). At only 18mm thin, it even comes ready to watch 1Seg digital TV broadcasts and – according to the specs – the unit sports a Marvell PXA270 cpu running at 520MHz with 512MB of Flash memory and 128MB RAM. Perhaps most interesting are the rather agressive price plans, which bundle the device with fixed- and mobile-broadband connection services to attract new customers.

The company also announced four new data cards including a PC Card unit produced by NEC and a USB design coming from Huawei, which will run on the same high-speed network and tabehoudai all-you-can-eat billing model. The new services will be available starting 31 March in five major population areas including Tokyo, Aichi, Osaka and Kyoto. More details after the jump.

Year of the Pig Shaping up as Golden

What’s this?? … mobs of Flying Ketai Pigs..?

Actually, 2007 promises to be far more interesting than even that cheeky title! Here goes our official WWJ Fearless Forecast for 2007 – all in one – huge – breath!

2007 promises to be far more interesting than even that cheeky title! Here goes our official WWJ Fearless Forecast for 2007 – all in one – huge – breath! M-commerce: The carriers? FeliCa-based services will continue to grab serious market share. At the end of 2006, DoCoMo had over 1 mln customers for their DCMX mobile credit-card service alone, not to mention the 18.3 mn regular FeliCa handsets in use as of 31 December. KDDI and SoftBank have FeliCa user bases in the millions as well.. grab a cuppa for after the jump!

SoftBank Mobile Announces New 3G Phones

SoftBank Mobile Announces New 3G Phones by Mobikyo KKSoftBank Mobile rounded out the Japanese operators spring handset announcement rush this week by announcing a new fleet of models – Flash site Here – with major bling factor. According to the companies announcement most models will be available by March which is traditionally the busiest handset replacement month of the year in Japan as the new academic and fiscal year begins on April 1st. Masayoshi Son did his best Steve Jobs impersonation, black turtle-neck and all, however there was no announcement related to the recent news from MacWorld.

Models of interest include the 911T by Toshiba, a candybar slider with a huge 3-inch screen running on high speed HSDPA has a 3.2-megapixel camera, 1GB of internal memory, 1Seg digital tv, it’s FeliCa m-commerce enabled and comes complete with a pair of Oakley Thumps which connect via bluetooth. Other new handset highlights include; the 812SH Pantone series by Sharp (pictured right) with 20 different colors to choose from, the 812T Kodomobile model designed especially for children and Nokia’s E-61 Communicator – labeled as X01NK – which has Japanese Kanji text input and comes Wi-Fi enabled.

There are three new phones from Samsung including the 708SC slider which claims the title for the worlds thinnest 3G handset at a mere 8.4mm thick and the 707SC Swarovski Crystal version which is a follow-up to the earlier 705SH model [.jpg image] which sold-out the day it was launched last fall.

There have been over 30 new handset models announced by the three main operators during the last week for content and application developers, industry wags and ultimately the marketplace at large to chew over.. whew! WWJ subscribers login for more comments, photos and a video-link to watch the actual presentation (70 minute runtime) from the press conference held in Shinagawa on Thursday.

DoCoMo Introduces 703i Series with Ten New 3G Handsets

DoCoMo Introduces 703i Series with Ten New 3G Handsets by Mobikyo KKDoCoMo today announced the development of new 3G FOMA handsets – the 703i-series plus the D800iDS and SO903iTV. The 703i-series consists of eight models: N703i, P703i, D703i, F703i, N703iD, P703i, SH703i and SO703i. Most of the models are extra slim, with the N703i (image at right) and P703i being the thinnest 3G clamshell handsets in the world, at 11.4mm each, as of 15 January 2007 (and according to the company).

Our Wireless Watch Japan Web Video Triple Play article posted 10 November has a quick shot of Natsuno-san with these new extra-slim handsets.

The new 703i-series handsets made by NEC, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Sharp, Fujitsu and Sony Ericsson have features ranging from full-track music, Mega Appli gaming and DCMX mobile commerce to document viewer and full mobile web browser. A couple of interesting design notes; Fujitsu’s F703i model is water-proof and claims to be completely safe in the shower while Mitsubishi’s D703i is Japan’s thinnest candybar-style cellphone available, at 9.9mm thick.

DoCoMo also unveiled the SO903iTV handset equipped with a high-resolution LCD using BRAVIA technology and high-quality audio for viewing “One-segment” (1 Seg) terrestrial digital TV broadcasts. In addition the company announced the D800iDS [.jpg image], which according to the press materials, is a world-first cellphone with two full screens – a conventional upper screen and a touch-screen instead of the traditional lower keypad. The N703iD will be marketed on 26 January. The other 703i-series models and D800iDS are planned to be sold in February, while the SO903iTV is scheduled to be launched in June.

We have images with full details after the jump.

Japan's Mobile Year in Review

It was the best of times, it was… well, it really was the best of times! Also, as the famous line from Dickens goes, it was the age of wisdom, the age of foolishness and the season of.. Mobile!

Looking back on 2006, it’s hard to decide which news from Japan’s mobile scene was the most spectacular. Vodafone pulled out, Softbank stood up, mobile number portability struck, a record number of new handsets hit the street and – as December winds down – Motorola and Samsung are shipping first foreign-made 3G units into Japan.

A ‘quick’ look at what caught WWJ’s attention in ’06 after the jump.

Digital TV for Mobile in Japan – 1H Review

Digital TV for Mobile in Japan - 1H Review A recent report focusing on the faltering Korean DVB-H market lead us to wonder how the user experience, and business model, compares with the service launched here in Japan on April 1st. Several items stand out as either very similar or completely opposite.

Many studies over the years point to the fact that mobile user habits vary much less from region to region than assumed by most industry pundits. Of course there are at least some notable differences, however – by and large – people are people, and in-depth research has routinely shown common ground across cultures and classes.

The predictable differences become more apparent as business models are implemented that encourage, or restrict, access or behavior in any given product or service offering. The cost and availability – let alone need – of any new mobile initiative will obviously have an impact on its adoption rate.

When digital TV for mobile (1SDB-T) debuted here this spring, the business model had several notable features: all channels are free to view and the broadcast content is exactly the same as already available – also at no cost – on users’ home TV sets.

While many have questioned the logic of this seemingly non-profit (yet costly) experiment, the ministry, carriers and broadcasters have carefully developed a strategic long-term vision for the successful deployment of mobile TV in Japan.

One thing is for sure: the hype surrounding this next-gen area knows no borders and markets overseas are also struggling with the myths and realities of this segment’s risks and opportunities.

OKI to Exhibit at ITU Telecom World

Oki Electric announced its participation at the upcoming ITU Telecom World 2006, which will be held in Hong Kong from December 4th to 8th. OKI will exhibit its products based on its position of having launched the first VoIP system in Japan in 1996, and its strong track record with its carrier-grade softswitch, which has been used for 5 million subscribers, the world’s largest scale. At the session for “Towards a safer digital society,” CEO Shinozuka will be making a keynote speech under the theme, “Ubiquitous Security – Towards Realization of a Safe and Secure Digital World.”