Willcom Sees Strong Initial Sales

Willcom Sees Strong Initial Sales“Despite the high prices, there were huge line-ups waiting to buy the new Willcom PHSes,” said my Kiwi pal in an email last night. It looks like some of Willcom’s PHS phones appear to be selling well on the strength of flat-rate voice and data and handsets that are at least comparable to the high-end 3G cellular models from the Big Three carriers. Is this a hint of price destruction to come when the new licensees jump into the market in 2006?

“It normally takes about 20 minutes to get a new phone, but the wait for the new Willcom models on the first day of sales was over an hour and a half. A day or two later and the long lines have vanished,” added Keith Wilkinson, a long-time Japan hand and a keen watcher of all things electronic.

He was referring to the WX300K, WX310K and WX310SA, from Kyocera and Sanyo, as initially reported by WWJ in October, the first in a new series of PHS models. PHS is the shorter-range, non-cellular standard that has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity due to lower costs of usage and flat-rate pricing. According to Willcom, phones could be reserved starting on 11 November, and became or will become available in shops on the 18th (WX300K, silver and ochre), the 25th (WX310K, silver & pink; WX310SA, silver & red) and the 30th (WX310K, other color).

Devices Powered by ACCESS' NetFront Surpasses 200 mn

ACCESS Co., Ltd., a global provider of mobile content delivery and Internet access technologies, announced that the number of devices equipped with its NetFront family of browsers has surpassed 200 million deployments worldwide. The achievement of this milestone firmly establishes NetFront as the leading browser for the mobile and beyond-PC markets. NetFront is widely recognized as one of the most advanced mobile browsers in the world, but NetFront is also widely popular as a browser solution for set-top boxes, game consoles, digital televisions, car navigation systems, and dedicated Internet terminals.

Microsoft Scores First Windows Mobile Japan Deal

Microsoft Scores First Windows Mobile Japan DealWillcom, Microsoft and electronics maker Sharp are teaming up to deliver a corporate-targeted PDA WLAN handset for the Japanese market that will incorporate Windows Mobile 5.0 as its operating system. Scheduled for a December release, the W-Zero3 will operate over Willcom’s PHS (personal handyphone system) network.

Equipped for both voice and data, the handset makes full use of its Microsoft connection to juggle an assortment of PC-based functions over its handy slide-out QWERTY keyboard in addition to the standard mobile touch pad. Users can access PC-based email addresses, edit Microsoft and Excel documents on a bright, 3.7-inch VGA touch screen (the unit comes with a PDA-style stylus) and thumb through Excel, Word, PowerPoint and PDF files.

Mobile Intelligence Japan – Akihabara Walking Tour

Mobile Intelligence Japan - Akihabara Walking TourAfter months of preparation, our MIJ mission to Tokyo kicked-off Sunday afternoon with a casual walk-about through the famous Akihabara electric town district. Over the coming week of scheduled meetings and events, we plan to post a daily update — right here on WWJ — of the highlights to provide subscribers a current snapshot of Japan’s mobile space. MIJ has an extensive agenda lined up, including company visits and presentations from many of what we believe to be the most interesting local players, a major networking event at Mobile Monday tomorrow night and a whole day out at Tech Disneyland — the CEATEC trade show.

You’ve got to experience it to believe it!

While most of these discussions will be held ‘off-the-record’ to gather info just for MIJ participants, we are looking forward to gaining an even deeper insight of where the industry is today and how things are shaping up for 2006 and to sharing what we can.

You Say You Want a Revolution

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of this year’s Tokyo Game Show was the first apperance in the event’s 15-year history by a Nintendo company president; Satoru Iwata made a keynote speech to introduce their Revolution wireless game controller [.jpg image] and if you have not seen the .mov trailer for that yet, surf over to and check it out. See Gail Nakada’s video report from TGS.. 🙂

Vodafone Flips for Felica in 3G Fall/Winter Lineup

Vodafone Flips for Felica in 3G Fall/Winter Lineup

Vodafone follows DoCoMo and KDDI into the brave new revenue world of Osaifu Keitai [wallet phone] introducing its first Felica-equipped handset at a press conference for the Japanese carrier’s Fall/Winter 3G lineup [.PDF]. Four handsets: the 702NK II from Nokia, 703SHf and 604SH both from Sharp plus the 703N by NEC are scheduled for release in October and November. The company is counting on this lineup’s smooth design esthetics, sophisticated hardware and contents to re-ignite consumer interest in the Vodafone brand.

At just 47mm wide the 703SHf is Vodafone’s slimmest 3G handset yet. Besides Felica it has a 1.3 megapixel camera, 2-inch ASV LCD screen and the music player supports AAC and SD-Audio MP3 music files. But who cares. It’s really all about the chip. The Felica IC chip system developed by Sony allows users to swipe Felica-equipped mobile handsets over designated readers and pay for everything from a bottle of ice tea to an airline ticket. DoCoMo started loading it onto their 3G phones in July 2004 and has sold around 5 million Felica-equipped phones so far. The other carriers have seen little choice but to follow. These Sony IC chips have become ubiquitous not by Felica but through the Suica JR train commuter cards which can also be used at shops inside designated train stations and at platform kiosks. Thanks to DoCoMo, Suica is going mobile next year and there are plans to incorporate private train lines and subways into the Suica system as well. KDDI began selling their first Felica handset, the W32S from Sony Ericcson, this month.

Tokyo Game Show 2005

Tokyo Game Show 2005

Packed with international game and console makers out to show the press and public just what they can do, the Tokyo Game Show opened yesterday for a three-day run at Chiba’s Makuhari Messe Convention Center. Eager to showcase their mobile gaming platforms, DoCoMo set up a giant booth splashed in black paint over yellow for a "street style" look. Multiple mobile play stations circling the entire area had event goers lined up ten deep to try out mobile games like Monster Hunter, Sonic, Gundam, and many more. Everyone who plays a game receives different free collectible badges that fit into a DoCoMo badge folder — also free — guaranteeing big crowds here. Last year DoCoMo enjoyed great success with a similar system that handed out collectible cards for each game.

Many handsets come with games already pre-loaded. The new DoCoMo N901iS, for example, has Dragonquest II (from Enix) pre-installed and ready to play. One of the most popular games was a mobile version of Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog in playable demo form. Sonic will come bundled with one FOMA 901i-series phone starting this winter. An engaging game even on mobile, the movements and execution on the FOMA were reminiscent of the old Sega Genesis edition of Sonic. Capcom’s Monster Hunter, another popular game, will be exclusively on DoCoMo phones for a short time this winter but will soon migrate to other carriers’ game platforms according to a DoCoMo spokesman.

DoCoMo Props Up Symbian

An extensive article in Wireless Week makes it clear that Motorola is only developing some Symbian handsets at the request of carrier partners “such as NTT DoCoMo”, which have invested in Motorola to keep the Symbian development going. Motorola’s primary OS emphasis is on its Linux/Java platform and Microsoft’s OS, neither of which is as expensive in royalties or implementation costs as Symbian, says Greg Besio, Motorola’s corporate vice president of mobile devices software.

Fancy Tech on Runway

In the future, we’ll text-message hugs to each other’s shirts, our coat buttons will house cameras, and our underwear biosensors will phone home when we’re in trouble. This week’s runway show brought together 35 exhibitors from 10 countries to display wearable computers, computer-generated jewelry and clothing designs festooned with electronics; the exhibitor list combined familiar fashion brands like Oakley and Fossil with tech names like Sony, Charmed Technology and the MIT Media Laboratory.

.mobi Domain Approved

Not really ‘news’ since ICAAN cleared the final hurtles on 3 June, yet the Web is alive today [Google News] with this story. We reported back in December 2004 on the possible approval of the .mobi domain extension; we guess the admin folks at mTLD Top Level Domain Ltd, based in Dublin, will have their hands full. Apparently their contract was signed with ICANN in Luxembourg last night and new .mobi domains will be on sale in the first half of 2006.