DoCoMo announced today they will form a business and capital alliance with Aquafairy Co. to develop fuel-cell products. DoCoMo will acquire an approximate 36.5-percent stake in the company through a purchase of newly allocated shares in the near future. Aquafairy, which develops and markets micro fuel cells for mobile devices, was established in Osaka in 2006 and has 11 employees. It has capital of 33 million yen.
On Friday, the MIJ team wrapped up the October mission to Tokyo and headed home to the Heartland for happy hour and some relaxed networking; everyone was pooped but delighted with the program (so said the team, not me the organiser!).
After a full day Wednesday at CEATEC to view fuel-cell mobile batteries, digital-TV handsets and a super new satellite pocket rocket from DoCoMo, we spent Thursday and Friday back on the MIJ agenda, meeting with, respectively, an LBS application developer, a major content aggregator, an alternative mobile payment provider (to find out what to do when your content is just too pricey for the official menus), a mobile marketing manager and a 3G carrier, among others. Thursday evening was another highlight as we met with Andrew Shuttleworth, one of Tokyo’s most knowledgeable and opinionated mobile application usability gurus, and a trio of young, female, non-tech Japanese college students who utterly tore apart preconceived notions of why Japanese use mobile like they do. (What? You mean you don’t like to pay for content??)
The Mobile Intelligence Japan (MIJ) team spent Wednesday at the CEATEC show, checking out some of the most innovative mobile tech and services the Japanese ecosystem is currently developing. To start, Hitachi’s methanol fuel-cell handset for KDDI [ close-up image here ] was one of the major announcements made during this year’s event. Several Japanese electronics manufacturers, including Toshiba and Fujitsu, are working on a fuel-cell solution for powering and recharging cell phones and other portable devices; Fujitsu’s rather large (as big as a shoe?) version for DoCoMo provides up to 9 Watt-hours of juice.
There were also big line ups to view the new digital TV cell phones made by Sanyo, Panasonic and Sharp (for each of KDDI, DoCoMo and Vodafone) with plenty of people crowded around the NHK booth to test drive one of the units; all are due to launch by next spring and run for around 2 hours.
Later, we spotted Net2Com’s new IP-and-Skype handset available (since last week) for Livedoor mobile customers and were surprised to see a prototype streaming satellite handset from DoCoMo. The Mobaho! compatible phone — a full FOMA 3G device — will receive music and other programming direct from Mobile Broadcasting Corp.’s bird high above Tokyo and will launch next spring; the Mitsubishi-made device has about 2 hours of continuous playback time and appears intended to steal some of KDDI’s Chaku-Uta-Full thunder. Be sure to watch our latest video program featuring EZ Channel.
Finally, your WWJ crew had a chance to sit down and speak with Dave Graveline to record a radio interview covering some of the show’s highlights to be broadcast on 10 October.
JCN; KDDI, with partners Toshiba Corporation and Hitachi, Ltd., is pleased to announce that prototype mobile phones powered with fuel cells will be exhibited in the KDDI booth at CEATEC JAPAN (Makuhari Messe), to take place from October 4. KDDI had been in co-development with Toshiba and Hitachi since July, 2004 on next-generation fuel cells for use in mobile devices such as cell-phones. The fuel-cell mobile phone co-developed by Toshiba and KDDI is based on the au handset A5509T. The system used is a hybrid type, with power supplied by a compact fuel cell and fuel tank at the back of the handset, plus an internal lithium ion battery. It uses high-concentration methanol to achieve a battery capacity 2.5 times the conventional value with a single refill. This feature enables the handset to be used for a long time.
Toshiba Corporation, the world leader in fuel-cell technology for handheld electronic devices, today announced that Guinness World Records has officially certified its highly compact direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) as the world’s smallest DMFC. The fuel cell will feature in the 2006 edition of Guinness World Records, the perennially popular compendium of record-breaking feats and achievements. Designed for integration into devices as small as digital music players, Toshiba’s DMFC is as long and wide as a thumb, only 22 x 56 x 4.5mm ( maximum of 9.1mm with fuel tank ). This size advantage offers greater design freedom to developers of handheld electronic devices, without any compromises in performance. Although small enough for integration into a wireless headset for mobile phones, the prototype is efficient enough to power an MP3 music player for as long as 20 hours on a single 2cc charge of highly concentrated methanol.
The day of the battery may finally be over as manufacturers usher in the age of the fuel-cell. To prove the point, an engineer from the Japanese electronics company Hitachi yesterday showed the world the pack that will power tomorrow’s mobile phone, laptop computer and personal organiser. The promise of fuel cells has built steadily over the years, with sporadic breakthroughs in size and efficiency. As gadgets from iPods to mobile phones become more complicated, their power demands will be greater and batteries will not be up to the task.
President Nakamura faced the Tokyo press on September 30 and did… not too bad a job. In a wide-ranging presentation followed by Q&A, he covered fuel cell R&D (commercialization after FY 2006), Softbank’s moves to obtain 3G spectrum (vacating the spectrum tomorrow “cannot be done”), and Big D’s global strategy (with a dual-mode GSM/W-CDMA handset, you can access both). Nakamura also talked about churn, competition with KDDI/au, and the possibility of abandoning pre-paid services. A post-fall IR Roadshow program that’s not to be missed.
DoCoMo, Inc. announced today the joint development of a prototype [.jpg image] micro fuel cell for 3G FOMA handsets. The prototype, manufactured by Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., is expected to greatly extend FOMA handset usage time once it goes into commercial production. The prototype has the same basic specifications of other FOMA handset rechargers and will be compatible with all FOMA handsets. Further development of the prototype is expected to be completed by the end of fiscal 2005.
KDDI has teamed up with Japanese mobile-phone manufacturers to develop a fuel-cell-powered phone equipped with functions for receiving terrestrial digital TV broadcasting. KDDI has signed joint development agreements with Toshiba and Hitachi. Although the two manufacturers will develop fuel-cell-equipped mobile phones separately on the basis of their own technology, they will use the same user interface that includes the fuel inlet.
KDDI has announced an agreement with Toshiba Corporation and Hitachi Limited to cooperate on research into the next generation of batteries for mobile communication devices such as mobile telephone handsets. The objective of the research is to develop a compact fuel-cell battery that can be used in mobile phones by the end of 2005.