McDonalds Japan Rolls RFID Coupons

McDonalds Japan has announced the deployment of an e-wallet coupon and payment system, using Felica and DoComo iD readers, at 175 locations as of May 20th with the target of all 3,800 retail shops nationwide to be completed by 2009. While the company has been active in the mobile space since 2003, quoting 10 million registered users, this effort was touted as the first of it’s kind during a recent press conference held here in Tokyo. More details after the jump.

Disney Japan Prepares for Launch

Walt Disney Japan held a press conference in Tokyo to introduce their new “Disney Mobile” service which is slated for public launch on March 1st. Although the company will run the business as an MVNO, it emphasized that the service will be distributed in collaboration with SoftBank Mobile with the same “White Plan” price package offerings. There’s a nice Flash video on the home page Here.

FeliCa and MiFare Founders Unveil Moversa

NXP, founded by Philips, and Sony Corporation have announced the formation of Moversa, a joint venture to drive global adoption of contactless smart card applications in mobile phones using Near Field Communication (NFC). Moversa will plan, develop, produce and market a secure chip, a Universal Secure Access Module (U-SAM), that incorporates both MIFARE and FeliCa operating systems and applications. The U-SAM will also support other contactless operating systems and applications based on customer requirements. Moversa will be led by co-presidents Guus Frericks of NXP and Toshio Yoshihara of Sony.

Kyocera Enables WirelessWallet Trials

Kyocera announced the successful field-testing of handsets used in a WirelessWallet consumer trial by Cellular South. Equipped with Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, the handsets were used by consumers to make wireless payments and purchases in the nation’s first multi-city trial by a wireless service provider. According to Cellular South, WirelessWallet will become available to consumers in early 2008.

AU Design Project Announces InfoBar2

Based on the success of the original InfoBar model, the first handset from KDDI’s in-house design team which was released in October 2003, followed by the same candy bar styled Talby by Marc Newson a year later, the AU Design Project has just announced the long-awaited InfoBar2. Available on Oct.31st in four colors, this latest model touts a 2.6-wide inch QVGA organic EL display with a 1Seg digital tv tuner, FeliCa m-commerce and GPS functionality. The full specs (in Japanese) are available Here.

Japan Mobile Phone Sales for Q2 of 2007

Gartner is reporting that worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users in the second quarter of 2007 reached 270.9 million units, a 17.4 per cent increase from the same period last year. In Japan, sales to end users in the second quarter of 2007 were 12.1 million units, an increase of 10.3 per cent from the second quarter of 2006 but a decline of 17.5 percent from the first quarter of 2007.

Viewpoint: What Leads Mobile in Japan?

Holographic projection demo at DoCoMo R&D Labs, November 2006 ©MobikyoThe genesis of today’s Viewpoint was back in March, when we spotted this op-ed referring to Japan mobile that had stated: “What’s different about the Japanese mobile market is that innovation is moving toward business models and marketing tactics instead of technical features and functions.” That op-ed piece in turn cited a new research report on eMarketer, “Japan: Marketing to a Mobile Society,” which insisted: “What stands out in the current Japanese experience is the fact that the center of gravity for getting through to Japanese mobile users has shifted in favor of business models and marketing tactics as opposed to new technical features and mobile phone functions.”

We took exception to both these as serious mis-analyses of the cornerstone role that technological innovation and network infrastructure competition have played – and continue to play – in powering Japan’s mobile success story. After contact with the eMarketer editors, we agreed to write separate opinion pieces, which we would both republish side-by-side in our newsletters, as an excellent way to hash out the topic and let you – our collective readers – decide.

Sadly, the marketing guys at eMarketer quashed the idea, as the subject and the detailed discussion would be “too technical a topic for our [eMarketer’s] newsletter.” But we know that WWJ readers are more than smart enough to figure out for themselves what’s really driving the mobile Internet in Japan! So we wished the eMarketer editors best of luck in the future, again gave thanks that WWJ doesn’t have any meddling marketing guys, and herewith present to you our Viewpoint.
(Subscribers login to access the full article by WWJ editor Daniel Scuka)

Image: Holographic projection demo at NTT DoCoMo R&D Labs, November 2006 ©Mobikyo

Verizon Announces Wireless Wallet

Verizon Wireless has announced their m-commerce service, enabled as a BREW application from technology partner Obopay as the first mobile payment offering for any major U.S. carrier, will be available in the coming weeks. The Obopay service will allow customers to receive, send and spend money via their mobile phones, check their account balances, collect money owed from other mobile users, view transaction histories and invite friends to use the system.

KDDI Announces 15 New Handsets

Mark May 22 on your calendar under Tokyo mobile madness. In the space of a few hours we had an avalanche of new handset models – 27 in all – announced by both KDDI au and (see our previous post) SoftBank Mobile. The Okura hotel was swarming at 10am as the wraps came off au’s Summer 2007 lineup and of course they have their usual dedicated, and slick, Flash site online Here. It will take us a little while to plow through the complete details of each model, available in Japanese, meanwhile we have compiled a quick overview for you after the jump.