Google Android GPS Application

Rafael Spring, and his partner, Max Braun, were thoughtful enough to ping us here at WWJ with an interesting tip. They have created a 3d-navigation and location targeting system, code named Enkin, as a submission for the first round of the Google Android Developer Challenge. The pair are students of Computational Visualistics in Koblenz, Germany and started this project when they were in Japan for robotics research. See their video and very detailed .pdf after the jump.

HTC Announces Titan II for eMobile

HTC has just confirmed [.pdf in Japanese] the introduction of their HTC TyTN II – or Titan Two – which will become available for sale in Japan on Friday, March 28, 2008 via eMobile, under the product name “S11HT (EMONSTER)”. The HTC TyTN II will be the first device from eMobile supporting broadband voice services and this handset is the eighth model, including designs scheduled for future release, from the HTC lineup to appear in Japan.

DoCoMo Strikes Back with 905i-Series

DoCoMo Strikes Back with 905i-SeriesDomestic market incumbant NTT DoCoMo came out with all guns blazing during their press conference at the Grand Park Hyatt in Tokyo on November 1st. For the first time ever they combined the launch for both of their upcoming 700 and 900 series models – a record 23 handsets unveiled at once – and the announcement included several new service offerings as well. Marking another notable difference from previous line-up introductions was the absence of Natsuno-san, famed ‘father of i-mode’ and always energetic MC, from the stage.

The companies flag-ship 905i-series included 10 models which will all come fully loaded with high-speed HSDPA, 1Seg digitial-tv, DCMX m-commerce, GPS, 2in1 dual-sim identity and enabled with GSM chipsets to allow global roaming complete with voice-to-text translation capabilities for English, Chinese and Japanese. Further enhancements in handset design include increased multi-media applications in motion sensor gaming, flat-rate music subscriptions and i-motion videos along with updated i-area mapping and cell broadcast emergency announcement services and Flash Lite 3 pre-installed all coming as standard features across the board.

Location Based Temp. Work Force

LocationValue is running an interesting LBS play called Otetsudai (helper) Networks, a new service which enables people looking for temp. work to establish a profile listing their skills and download a GPS location reading app. to their mobile phone. Employers who need someone for a few hours can just send the request to Otetsudai Networks and within minutes, they will have a list of people who might be available. The list shows what each person is qualified for, how others have rated their work and exactly how far away they are.

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.

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

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.

DoCoMo to Enhance Mobile Maps

NTT DoCoMo just announced that they have agreed to form business and capital alliances with ZENRIN DataCom in order to provide advanced map and navigation services for mobile phones. The capital alliance will see DoCoMo take a 10.27% stake in ZENRIN by acquiring 1,700 newly allocated shares in a deal expected to be completed by June 8. Financial details were not disclosed.

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.