World First Mass-producible Polymeric UWB Antenna

Omron announced that it will introduce a new SMD Polymeric Antenna for short-range, wireless Ultra-Wideband (UWB) applications. Product launch is scheduled for June 1, 2006. UWB is a recently commercialized short-range wireless technology, expected to be widely adopted in consumer goods. Applied in dongles, personal computers, printers, mobile telephones, digital televisions and DVD players, UWB functions as a low-power-consuming wireless USB (universal serial bus), allowing users to transfer large amounts of data rapidly between various devices in close range.

Japan Launches Digital TV for Mobile Phones

Japan Launches Digital TV for Mobile PhonesNHK and five commercial TV broadcasters held a splashy launch party in Tokyo’s central Shinjuku train station on Saturday afternoon, announcing the official start of terrestrial ‘One-Seg’ broadcast services. The carriers have lined up accordingly: NTT DoCoMo has partnered with Nippon Television and Fuji Television, while KDDI has forged a partnership with TV Asahi.

The new digital tuner-enabled handsets, coming from Panasonic, Hitachi and Sanyo, should deliver up to three hours of TV viewing time by processing and decoding only the requested channel — as opposed to current analog units which run only about an hour and eat more juice as they decode all incoming broadcast channels. Vodafone’s 905SH from Sharp is rumoured to be available just in time for the World Cup in June.

WWJ has been covering this story since the spring of 2004 when early prototype handsets were first introduced at an NHK open-house event.

Our 5th Birthday!

Our 5th Birthday!This week marked a major milestone for WWJ! In one form or another, I’ve been writing this email newsletter for five years — and what a five year term it’s been!

I spent a couple hours last night looking over past WWJ newsletters, and was struck by how much Japan’s mobile scene has changed. In 2001, when I started writing a weekly mobile-focused newsletter for J@pan Inc, i-mode had just celebrated its second birthday, KDDI had yet to roll out CDMA 1X services and the No. 3 competitor in the market was known as “J-Phone.”

Today, DoCoMo is far in the lead with their 3G FOMA service and music and TV are the new hot trends; i-mode itself has become almost dasai (uncool). KDDI have created one of the mightiest and most unified mobile platforms on Earth, with GPS-based blogging, shopping and PC Internet integration drawing huge usage. The company formerly known as J-Phone is about to become the company formerly known as Vodafone as Masayoshi Son attacks 3G mobile with the same successful discount focus with which he attacked NTT and home broadband.

Bonus ‘those were the days’ tidbits via the WWJ Newsletter after the jump!

Vodafone K.K. Unveils 905SH

Vodafone K.K. today announced the development of the Vodafone 905SH [.jpg] by Sharp, a new 3G handset capable of receiving “One Seg” terrestrial digital TV broadcasts. The new model is planned for release by June 2006, in time for scheduled the upcoming World Cup football matches. This handset features a new Cycloid Style rotating display for easy mobile TV viewing , a design innovation which will enable customers to enjoy digital TV broadcasts in 400 x 240 pixel resolution, full widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio format.

Vodafone Japan's Final Media Briefing: Out with a Whimper

Vodafone Japan’s Final Media Briefing: Out with a WhimperFor Vodafone Japan, the end came not with a bang, but with a whimper. When we arrived at last Monday’s press event – the final one, it turned out, before news of the Japan sell-out hit the Web – the smell of pending doom hung in the air. Ironically, the media briefing bore an optimistic title: the “Future Direction of Product & Service Development.” It was also surprising to see that President Bill Morrow and Chairman Tsuda-san would attend for the 3G roadmap briefing to be given by former J-Phone super-star Ohta-san; WWJ has never seen three Vodafone Big Guys in one room together for a media briefing (perhaps there is safety in numbers)? But when the talk from all three turned out vague and totally avoided any mention of new MVNO’s signing up to resell Vodafone 3G capacity — widely considered to be one of Big Red’s few viable options in Japan — we suspected something was up.

And when we learned that a $49 bn write-off had been announced by London on the same day, it was obvious that the clock had already started ticking down for the carrier’s long-speculated Japan exit. Thus ended, after some five years of trying, what could have been one of the most brilliant tie-ups between a global brand name and world-leading Japanese mobile know-how.

Panasonic Starts Delivery of P901iTV

Panasonic Mobile Communications today announced it has begun shipment of P901iTV mobile handsets to NTT DoCoMo. The P901iTV is DoCoMo’s first mobile handset to receive terrestrial digital broadcasting signals in addition to conventional analog signals. The handset was created in response to the planned launch of mobile digital broadcasting in April 2006. The handset’s main display is a 2.5-inch wide-view LCD screen. Approximately 3 hours of continuous digital TV viewing is possible.

3G Mobile Future: Exclusive Interview with Tomi Ahonen

3G Mobile Future: Exclusive Interview with Tomi AhonenTomi Ahonen is a smart guy who’s done a lot of observing and thinking about the 3G future. He reports that planet Earth has 2 bn mobile phones, with more phones in use than cars, credit cards or televisions, and that advertisers, businesses and governments are all trying to understand how the mobile future will download. For a glimpse into the future, Tomi was in Tokyo last month for the 3G Mobile World Forum 2006 where he observed that Japan already has the handsets, the networks and users who have migrated to 3G, while “the rest of the world is just starting to understand and discover this opportunity.”

He points out that in Japan, roughly 30 percent of all mobiles are 3G phones, compared to the UK, where it’s only 8 percent. “We have a long way to go to catch up.” WWJ’s Lawrence Cosh-Ishii caught up with Tomi for a tightly-focused interview covering 3G, 3.5G, consumer service definition, key technologies and how marketing and advertising are starting to recognize the potential of mobile.

ACCESS NetFront Browser in 11 New Sanyo Handsets

ACCESS Co., Ltd., a global provider of mobile content delivery and Internet access technologies, today announced that its NetFront browser has been deployed in 11 SANYO handset models available in regions throughout the world including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand. Powered by NetFront browser, SANYO handsets represent some of the best-selling devices available from SANYO’s mobile operator partners. NetFront has been selected as the browser technology for 11 SANYO handsets, which include the SCP-8300, SCP-9000, SCP-7500, SCP7400/QW, SCP-4920/QW, SCP-8200/QW, SCP-2300/NZ, SCP-9000/NZ, SCP-2300/CA, SCP-8300/CA, and SANYO MVP models.

KDDI's Competitive Edge in Japan

Over the past 12 to 18 months the mobile division of KDDI, known here as ‘au,’ has been leading the way in Japan’s cellular marketplace. During a recent interview at the 3G World Forum, one European visitor asked the seemingly obvious question, “What is the main reason for their success?” KDDI au's Competitive Edge in Japan by Mobikyo KK

The reasonable answer is that it’s actually a combination of several factors, but one thing stands out. Compared to the NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone business models, au has a very tight focus on the domestic market. Their attention to detail in customer service and product offerings is not challenged by how the product mix and content offerings might fit into the company’s global strategy — and it shows. This has allowed au to take the lead in areas like GPS, flat-rate data and faster networks, all provided to the consumer on affordable price plans. The carrier now offers a full suite of popular and useful services ranging from Navitime, EZ auctions, EZ book, EZ channel, EZ games, and EZ FM to (recently introduced) mobile IM (‘Hello Messenger’), mobile blogging (‘DuoBlog’) and Lismo.

Looking again at au’s recent blitz of cutting-edge models at Designing Studio last week, just in time for Japan’s peak spring sales season, we were truly impressed; it will be a tough choice for shoppers. The phones and services strongly illustrate one of the most fundamental and important learnings about Japan’s mobile success that we’ve been trumpeting for years.

KDDI Introduces Seven New 3G Handsets

This week was a new-cell-phone-announcement triple-play! Following DoCoMo on Tuesday and Vodafone yesterday, KDDI’s au brand held a press conference this afteroon at the super-swank New Otani hotel to unveil an impressive spring line-up. From L. to R. (below): Toshiba’s W41T with Japan’s first built-in 4GB HDD, the slick-styled Neon, is the latest addition to the in-house Design Project; Hitachi’s W41H ‘One-Seg’ digital TV phone; Casio’s W41CA, featuring a FeliCa mobile wallet; Kyocera’s W41K is a ‘Full Function’ camera phone with a 3.2-megapixel cam; SonyEricsson’s W41S is also FeliCa IC-enabled; and finally the Sanyo W41SA, which has an interesting handwritten character scanning application. The new fleet will hit store shelves starting in February along with the introduction of an enhanced Listen Mobile Service.

KDDI Introduces Seven New 3G Handsets by Mobikyo KK