SoftBank Charts Fiscal 2007 Plan

SoftBank Corp.’s President Masayoshi Son announced the companies vision going forward during the 27th regular meeting of shareholders held at Tokyo International Forum last week. Topics included an increased focus on contents, as previously signalled by the introduction of Yahoo! Streaming in May, and continued price war on voice services by adding a new total flat-rate calling package between family members to their already popular White Plan. According to their FYE 2006 results SoftBank added 10,000 new 3G base stations over the last fiscal year and plans to achieve a total 46,000 locations – almost on par with DoCoMo – installed by 1H FY2007.

Mobile Blogs and SNS Survey

Seron over at What Japan Thinks translated a recently-published report from infoPLANT looking at access trends of blogs and SNS from both mobile phones and PC’s. Conducted between the 15th and 22nd of May 2007 3,709 people self-selected themselves to complete a public survey offered through the NTT DoCoMo iMode menuing system. 61.9% of the sample was female.

Willcom Introduces New Smart Phone

Willcom, Sharp and Microsoft held a press conference yesterday at the Okura Hotel to announce the new W-Zero3 ES smartphone. The 3rd model in their series from Sharp this latest unit weighs in at 157grams and measures just under 18mm thick. Boasting a 3.3 inch VGA (480×800) LCD touch-screen display and the so-called xCrawl jog dial with Windows 6 OS running on Marvells PXA270 520MHz processor and Wi-Fi enabled this device will be available on order here by the end of June. WWJ was on-hand for the event and will post video asap, more details after the jump.

MLB Team Offers QR Code Tickets

According to this press release the MLB Washington Nationals became the first major sports team in the United States to use mobile phone ticketing technology in April. Tickets@Phone will allow fans to have their tickets delivered to their phone via text message which includes a unique barcode along with standard ticket information. The barcode may be scanned for entry at the left side of Main Gate at RFK Stadium. Once scanned, each guest will receive a print out of their ticket to be retained throughout the game.

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.

Sharp Announces New Mobile AQUOS

Sharp announced they have developed a new LCD, based on ASV (Advanced Super View) technology found in the companies AQUOS line of TVs, for mobile handsets which features the industry’s highest (as of April 17) contrast ratio of 2,000:1 with a wide viewing angle of 176 degrees and a high-speed response time of 8 ms. According to the statement, by September 2007 the company will start shipping samples of this new 2.2-inch at 240 x 320 (QVGA) screen, targeted for 1Seg digital-tv enabled cell phones in Japan. Sharp started this trend with their 902SH model for Vodafone Japan in 2004 and their popular 905SH cycloid style design launched here in June last year, just in time for the World Cup. They have since followed-up with the so-called “2nd model” 911SH.

KDDI Hits BREW Milestone

QUALCOMM just announced a number of milestones underscoring how KDDI’s wireless data service, powered by BREW, continues to spur the demand for mobile applications in the Japanese market. In January 2007, KDDI subscribers downloaded more than seven million BREW applications to their mobile phones. The cumulative number of BREW application downloads is now more than 160 million since KDDI first launched BREW in February 2003. Gaming has proven to be one of the most active areas of mobile downloads. According to KDDI, its catalog of high-quality mobile games has grown from 2,000 applications in January 2006 to more than 3,000 gaming applications in January 2007.

PSP Phone by Sony Ericsson

The rumor mills are swirling again about the long storied dream evolution of Sony porting their popular PlayStation Portable brand to a next-gen. handset. We picked-up this article posted on a Spanish blog suggesting an ‘Insiders Report’ claimed the device is actually in the works. While would not be surprised it would be better to dig a more qualified source. That being said, in fact WWJ had pondered the concept in June 2006 with our Viewpoint “Gaming Set to Repeat Mobile Music Success“, basically stating not if but when.

Disney Launches Mobile Social Network

Disney Launches Mobile Social NetworkWe’re thrilled to see Walt Disney Japan step into the mobile social networking space in March with this announcement [in Japanese only] for their public launch — on all three carriers’ official portals — of Wonder Days. In the most simple terms it looks very much like Habbo Hotel meets Mickey Mouse, however you need not take our word for it.. watch WWJ’s first-to-web video demo. and see for yourself!

It’s no surprise that many of the popular and established fixed-line service offerings have been making the leap onto Japan’s wireless web. Tokyo-based DeNA has several perfect examples for auctions and social networking with Mobaoku and Mobage-town respectively. Moba (game) Town is a free service, and available only on mobile, which has attracted just over 3 million members since it’s launch last summer. The hook was to provide free games, with over 30 titles to choose from, supported by advertising and micro-purchases — using MobaGold — for premium avatars. In the same way that instant messenging and presence of friends applies to online products (like the Twitter craze) it’s easy to see the evolution of mobile communities connecting anywhere and anytime will become a defacto standard for the next-generation.