SoftBank Mobile Summer Handsets

SoftBank Mobile announced their handset lineup for the ‘Summer of 2007 Sales Battle’ which will be available from the beginning of June. According to the company press release the 12 new 3G models are focused on style, quality and individuality, see the dedicated Flash site [in Japanese] Here. We note six handsets are coming from Sharp, including the 913SH slider while the upstart telco claims a scoop for the first deployment in Japan of Windows Mobile 6 on two of the units from HTC. Toshiba added three models with Samsung and Panasonic each contributing one. More details after the jump.

DNP's Electric Wave Poster

Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) has announced [in Japanese] the development of an information delivery terminal for mobile phones equipped with FeliCa. This so-called Electric Wave Poster system is composed of their ‘PetitPorta’ reader unit and a dedicated URL management server which is configured to deliver information related to the POP (point of purchasing advertisement) to RFID enabled handsets. The total number of accesses for each Petit-Porta location can be tracked and, if desired, a membership prompt is also possible in order to collect user information for loyalty programs or future marketing campaigns.

DoCoMo 2.0 — Message Lost in Translation?

DoCoMo 2.0 -- Message Lost in Translation? by Mobikyo KKOn Monday 23 April NTT DoCoMo unveiled their latest 3G handsets, the 904i-series, at a press conference held here in downtown Tokyo.

WWJ pointed to this webcast of their presentation, which clearly stated from the very beginning the new “DoCoMo 2.0” campaign theme.

We shouldn’t really be surprised that the main message, from Japan’s dominant mobile operator, contained in the announcement somehow managed to get 2.0 attention from the mainstream media. With few exceptions, the entire tech web focused on the motion-sensor for gaming application. Few if any noted how ironic it was that while the company insisted it was going to “focus on offering unique applications and services that will be difficult for the competition to duplicate” they were in fact introducing a functionality which was originally made available in Japan [video here] by Vodafone and Sharp over two years ago.

Perhaps the gritty details — such as the fact that all five new models will (of course) ship pre-installed with the Osaifu-Keitai FeliCa mobile wallet together with related security services — are less appealing to the overseas media than Nokia’s recent announcement that they, too, have the mobile wallet urge?

To be sure, there were a few interesting new offerings in Natsuno-san’s presentation, such as the 2-in-1 dual-identity option and flat-rate access to Napster’s full music library service. However, one of the main observations we take away from this news is that the rest of the world still tends to focus only on the most quirky headlines (wait until the MSM find out about this one). WWJ subscribers login for our thoughts on this latest development.

DoCoMo to Offer New Mobile Credit Card

DoCoMo has also introduced their new premium DCMX GOLD credit card at the 904i-series presser here this afternoon. This latest offering in their mobile credit card service joins the DCMX mini and the standard DCMX, which were announced in April 2006 [video here]. Like the DCMX mini and standard DCMX cards, this new gold card is compatible with iD, DoCoMo’s branded platform for mobile credit cards. Members will be issued a standard Visa or MasterCard magnetic card for use when making purchases overseas or at shops in Japan that do not have FeliCa enabled readers/writers.

A Tale of Two Mobile Technologies

The recent round of international press devoted to ‘the next big thing for mobile’ has an interesting, and recurring, theme. It started with a fair amount of mainstream media attention devoted to the statements made at CTIA during Visa’s keynote address regarding the evolution of mobile payments. Around the same time we notice that Capt. Kirk went boldly where no ex-pat Canadian would dare go (Toronto in March) to attend this presser with Ted Rogers promoting a new fangled mobile web-cam handset, which the company breathlessly hailed as “a landmark in wireless communications”.

We also noticed this special op-ed from Card Technology about how Sony is potentially challenged to get their m-commerce product outside of Japan. The article did some great work, however there’s plenty of room for a counter-point discussion. One thing rings true, both of these technologies were deployed here in Japan years ago and like the camera-phone will begin making their way into markets overseas in due course.

Panasonic PEAKS 3G Phone

We’ve noticed an unusually agressive ad campaign for the new P903iTV phone from Panasonic over the last few weeks. This latest handset, which was released in late February as the follow-up to the Japan’s original 1Seg. digital tv debut unit for DoCoMo, touts an improved “vibrant screen” display. Like Sony with the Bravia line or Sharp’s trendsetting Aquos brand before them, Panasonic has based this product on the same “PEAKS” processor technology used with their home television offering. Check-out this video from their website which is running here in prime-time TV slots.

CTIA: Ready for Japan?

The annual CTIA event is underway – like spring break for telco geeks – this week in Orlando and the PR is flowing. While there is predictable hype surrounding mobile tv and m-commerce, it’s satisfying to see that indeed the industry over-seas is beginning to embrace the functions and services we have seen developed and deployed here in Japan over the last few years. Now of the course the trick is, after the chatter, what happens next. As they say “the devil’s in the details” so time will tell, but it really does seem that things are warming up under the Florida sun!

DoCoMo Tops Mobile Operator Rankings

DoCoMo and Vodafone have been assessed by ABI Research as occupying the “sweet spot” of “Market Innovation and Market Implementation,” in their latest Mobile Operator Performance Matrix, with high ratings on a range of indicators: CAPEX spend per user; non-voice revenue contribution; number and utility of applications and service deployments; EBITDA; share of the global subscriber market; and EBITDA margin.

DoCoMo Announces New Business Handset

DoCoMo just announced they will begin marketing the F903iBSC, by Fujitsu, business-use to enable companies to address security issues such as information leaks and non-work-related use of corporate phones. Security is enhanced by a tool that automatically locks all functions when the handset is shut. Unlocking can be handled with biometric fingerprint authorization or a password. DoCoMo will market this new 3G FOMA handset in Japan from March 19 exclusively through corporate business divisions, and will not be available at DoCoMo shops.

Sony Ships 200 Million FeliCa Chips

Shipments of smart cards and cell phones containing Sony Corp.’s Felica RFID chip have hit 200 million, the company said Thursday. In the last five years the chip has become a de facto standard in Japan and cards containing it are used by millions of people everyday to make railway journeys and e-money purchases in convenience stores. In 2004 the chip started getting integrated in cell phones [WWJ Video] and today, through Felica, owners of those cell phones can make purchases in stores.