Casio Bullish on Overseas Handset Sales

Casio expects a 10 billion yen ($86 million) investment in new mobile phone models to return a profit in the first year, helped by sales of handsets equipped with its Exilim camera and G-Shock watch technologies. The handsets, based on the W-CDMA standard, will be sold at a higher profit margin than earlier models, said Tateki Ohishi, chief executive officer of Casio Hitachi Mobile Communications Co., the Tokyo-based company’s venture with Hitachi Ltd. Full Story Here.

Sanyo to Exit Cell Phone Business?

Sanyo has decided to sell its mobile phone business as part of its effort to improve group-wide profitability, with an agreement expected by the end of the year, according to a web report on Saturday by public broadcaster NHK. Sanyo is said to be negotiating separately with Sharp and Kyocera according to this article on The Japan Times. The exit rumor surfaced late last year.

LiMo Foundation Gaining Membership

The LiMo Foundation issued a statement [.PDF] to announce it has experienced a surge in membership as some of world’s most well-known mobile industry players have joined the Foundation during the past six months. Aplix, Celunite, LG Electronics, McAfee and Wind River have joined as Core members and will participate on the foundation board. Additionally, ARM, Broadcom, Ericsson, Innopath, KTF, MontaVista Software and NXP B.V. have joined as Associate members.

SoftBank Group to Trial Femtocell

SoftBank announced they have received a permit from the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications to run femtocell trials. The experiment, using 2GHz belt, will be conducted in partnership with ip.access, Motorola, Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson Japan, Samsung, Sonas, Ubiquisys and NEC. Femtocell is a micro cellular phone base station that can be set it up in the home or office and offer mobile handsets voice services via existing fixed-line ADSL connections.

AOL Sells Tegic to Nuance

Nuance Communications and Time Warner announced yesterday they have signed a definitive agreement whereby Nuance will acquire Tegic Communications a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL and a developer of embedded software for mobile devices. Tegic brings industry-leading T9 predictive text input software, which has shipped on more than 2.5 billion devices, and next-generation integrated text and touch input solutions to Nuance’s portfolio of voice-enabled applications for device control, mobile search, email and text messaging.

DoCoMo to Sell Exclusive D&G Handset

DoCoMo just announced that the company will begin marketing (only via their Internet online sales channels and for a limited time) the exclusive special-edition M702iS DOLCE & GABBANA handset developed jointly with Dolce & Gabbana and Motorola. The designer model, which costs 75,000 yen (including tax), will be available for purchase via PC and i-mode Japanese language portals from 08:30 on April 20, 2007 until May 31 at 10:30 pm, or while supplies last.

Japan: The Future of Mobile Markets

Japan: The Future of Mobile Markets by Mobikyo KKAccording to an article on eMarketer, “What stands out in the Japanese mobile market is the fact that innovation is shifting toward business models and marketing tactics as opposed to technical features and functions … the explosion of non-official mobile content Web sites is causing the sun to set on the i-mode business model of a dominant mobile carrier selling incremental content and services to its user base,” says John du Pre Gauntt, eMarketer senior analyst.

There are several ‘gee-whiz’ statements in this summary, starting with “Marketers are looking to the Japanese mobile market as a model of the converged media future,” which are clearly designed to help sell their research report. However, we really must challenge outright some of the assurances offered. For example, the eMarketer quote above which states that “Innovation is shifting toward business models and marketing tactics as opposed to technical features and functions” is off-base on both counts.

The continued innovations from DoCoMo and the other carriers in network speed, handset design and content & service offerings speak volumes about the Japanese mobile market and the continued utterly fundamental role of the carrier in driving innovation. Granted, the increase in non-official content sites was obvious and predictable, given how easy the continuing carrier-led innovations make getting onto the mobile web for both providers and surfers. And the carriers have known this from Day 1 of i-mode.

3GSM 2007 Award Winners

The 12th Annual GSM Association Global Mobile Awards were announced last night in Barcelona at the annual industry event which showcases the best of the mobile world. The stars of the night were the 2007 Global Mobile Awards winners, whose achievements provide an insight into the services, devices and innovation that are taking the mobile industry forward. Sony Ericsson’s K800 CyberShot handset won best 3G handset and Tokyo based I-play’s “The Fast and the Furious” took Best Made for Mobile Game. See the full category list and winners after the jump.

Linux Mobile – LiMo – Foundation Announced

To support their goal of creating the world’s first globally competitive, Linux-based software platform for mobile devices, Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics, and Vodafone announced today the official launch of the LiMo Foundation. A not-for-profit organization, the LiMo Foundation is aimed at blending the community-based development benefits of transparency, innovation and scalability with the best development practices from the mobile community to create an innovative new business model.

Japan's Mobile Year in Review

It was the best of times, it was… well, it really was the best of times! Also, as the famous line from Dickens goes, it was the age of wisdom, the age of foolishness and the season of.. Mobile!

Looking back on 2006, it’s hard to decide which news from Japan’s mobile scene was the most spectacular. Vodafone pulled out, Softbank stood up, mobile number portability struck, a record number of new handsets hit the street and – as December winds down – Motorola and Samsung are shipping first foreign-made 3G units into Japan.

A ‘quick’ look at what caught WWJ’s attention in ’06 after the jump.