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.
According to this press release by KDDI, EZ Gree passed the 1 Million members mark this month. Originally launched in November last year, and hitting 500k users in March, the social networking site plans to integrate more carrier led mobile data offerings, notably location based services, going forward. That will be interesting.. 😎
NEC Corporation today announced that it has been collaborating on joint field trials for SUPL-based Assisted GPS location services with WIND, Italy’s leading mobile operator. Following two trials in May and September last year, the companies are please to announce the successful attainment of the high levels of performance and accuracy, required to offer the next generation of location based services.
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??)
Vodafone is making location-based searches for users of their 3G handsets more serendipitous. Using location information from base stations, the new service will automatically display users’ current location areas on Vodafone live!, making it easier to search for information on nearby restaurants and public transport. Previously, 3G customers searching for a nearby restaurant, for example, first had to select their current location area and address to begin. Location-based searches are one tool in the personalized arsenal of value-added services that telecom carriers hope will generate advertising and data revenue and keep customer loyalty.
Japanese IC cards have pop posters grooving to a techno beat this summer. Fans of hunky J-Pop star Shogo Hamada just flash their Suica rechargeable RFID train commuter card at specially designed high-tech poster displays around town to reserve a copy of his newest album, My First Love. Japanese are calling this new interactive ad medium, “Denki Posta” (electronic posters). Popping up in all sorts of variations, most have plasma-display panels and flat-panel speakers.
Suica’s IC card technology has been a runaway hit in Japan. More than ten million are in circulation around the country and the service has brought in numerous retail partners for cashless payments at shops and restaurants within the stations. It was developed by Sony together with Japan Railways East Corporation and will soon migrate from hands to handsets. In January 2006, DoCoMo plans to combine their Felica smart card e-money platform with the Suica commuter card into a series of mobile handsets.
Beijing DG Telecom, a mobile applications and infrastructure provider, has announced an agreement with TruVideo, a Berkeley, California, based company specializing in mobile video solutions, to provide mobile video applications for the greater Chinese mobile market. Freeverse Partners, a Tokyo based company specializing in assisting foreign companies in Asian mobile business development and strategy, facilitated the partnership.
So far, Japanese carriers haven’t really pushed location services as stand-alone products; they’re sold as “part of” a handset and there are no handsets that are sold only as, or primarily for, navi-service capabilities. Sure, KDDI did do a big marketing push when their first GPS-enabled keitai hit the market in December 2001, but now it’s just one more feature onboard their fleet (in the January catalog, KDDI showed six of 11 handsets as having GPS capability). Also: Looks like Japan’s WLAN market – in addition to being highly fragmented – is one of the cheapest.