Mobile Kaizen and Why Japan Still Matters

Conventional wisdom teaches that Japan’s mobile industry is at least 18 months in front of Europe (and years ahead of the US). That truism is no more, however, as Europe’s cellular carriers, handset makers, and wireless Internet content providers have sweated blood to catch up – and catch up they have indeed. Daniel Scuka is in Germany this fall where he’s helping WWJpartner Mobile Economy conduct a series of seminarsentitled “Mobile Kaizen in Japan” examining how Japan’s mobileindustry maintains its lead through the continuous roll-out of improvementsin all aspects of the wireless Internet.

Panasonic and Picsel Tie Up For SD Memory Cards

Matsushita Electric, best known for its Panasonic-brand electronics and communications products, and Picsel Technologies, a pioneering provider of embedded software, today announced that the two companies entered into a licensing agreement to embed Picsel Browser and Picsel File Viewer on Panasonic SD Memory Card products. Under the agreement, Panasonic will globally market the Picsel PoweredTM SD Memory Cards, which will greatly enhance the Internet Browsing and File Viewing capabilities of mobile information devices.

Panasonic Introduces Networked Home Appliances System

Matsushita Electric, best known worldwide for its Panasonic brand of consumer electronics and digital communications products, announced today that it will begin marketing of “Kurashi (Japanese for ‘home life’) Net”, a networked home appliances/housekeeping system to enhance the users’ daily living. The system, to be marketed from September 1, will enable the user to control networked home appliances, such as air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines and microwave ovens, through wireless control from the central terminal, named “Kurashi Station,” or from a mobile phone. The system also monitors security and other household conditions, alerting the users by sounding an alarm linked to the “Watchdog Safety Sensor” in cases of emergency.

Panasonic Announces Development of A QVGA-supporting MPEG-4

Matsushita Electric, best known worldwide for its Panasonic brand of consumer electronics and digital communications products, and its principle subsidiary Panasonic Mobile Communications Co., Ltd. today announced the development of the MPEG-4 multi codec LSI (MN195906), nicknamed MarvieTM3* standing for an abbreviation of “MPEG-4 Advanced Real-time VIdeo codec Engine.”

Antenna Handles All 3 Wireless LAN Formats

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd has developed an antenna for wireless LAN (local area network) hot spots that can handle all three of the existing wireless networking standards. Wireless LAN hot spots are public places where users of notebook computers can access the Internet if their computers are equipped with wireless capabilities. As of the end of May, there were about 2,000 such hot spots in service in Japan.

Need a Bus Ticket? Use Your Cell Phone

Travelers on some long distant bus routes will be able to pay fares using cellular phones from the end of this month, thanks to a tie-up between Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and bus firms. The electronics giant aims to introduce the ticketless service on about 80 routes operated by 40 firms during fiscal 2003 and hopes to extend it to theater and other ticketing in the future.

Toshiba, Matsushita to Offer Smaller SD Cards

The SD Card Association, a group of about 500 firms dedicated to the promotion of SD Memory Cards, on March 13 announced a new mini version of the cards. The smaller SD Memory Card, which has about 60% less capacity than current cards, will be used mainly in mobile phones for recording image data. Association member Toshiba Corp will market a version with a 32MB recording capacity in June and another with a 64MB capacity in July.

Tectonic Change in Japan's Mobile Handset Market

The past few days have seen Japan’s big electronic makers releasing their quarterly and semiannual results, and the news from Sony, NEC, Fujitsu, and others has been mostly bad where cell phones are concerned. There have also been a lot of media reports on Japan’s ailing phone tanmatsu (terminal) market, and it appears that majors changes are underway. First, the media reports. On October 10 JEITA announced that domestic shipments of cellular phones fell 18.3 percent in August 2002 from a year earlier to 3.26 million units. The drop resumed a 13-month-long decline that was only broken (briefly) in July 2002 due to sales of camera-equipped models. Moreover, shipments of PHS handsets fell by 64 percent to 73,000 units (extending their losing streak to 18months!).

CTIA Notes and NEC 3G Recalls

WWJ contributor Michael Thuresson was in Las Vegas, Nevada, last week and managed to pull himself away from the one-armed bandits long enough to drop in on the CTIA “Wireless IT and Internet 2002” fall show. His report below was culled from a late-night, bleary-eyed email dispatch (italicized annotations partly contributed by me). Who says war correspondents in Kandahar have more fun than tech stringers in Vegas? 😉