Train 'em up early: kids' phones rock!

I was talking to my accountant last week; she’s a smart, self-employed mid-career professional with a husband and kids and she’s definitely one of the more practical-minded Europeans I know.

We were talking about ‘handys’ (keitai, in Germany), and I told her about the huge success the mobile Internet and 3G are having (still) in Japan, versus in Europe where no one’s making a single (Euro) cent on UMTS. Her reaction was typical, but interesting: “I’m not going to use the phone for sending mail or anything but talking. The keypad is far too tiny. It’s just not in the mindset of my generation.”

Japan Mobile Industry News Mash-up

It’s been a rather hectic few weeks here, as mentioned at the end of our latest WWJ Newsletter, so we thought a chocolate covered bundle of tidbits would be in order today. With 3GSM running this week in Barcelona, on top of the usual post January speed cycle, we’ve clipped over a dozen highlights together for a sweetheart ‘Valentines Eve’ post chalk full of wireless news goodies collected over the last little while, just for you after the jump.

Year of the Pig Shaping up as Golden

What’s this?? … mobs of Flying Ketai Pigs..?

Actually, 2007 promises to be far more interesting than even that cheeky title! Here goes our official WWJ Fearless Forecast for 2007 – all in one – huge – breath!

2007 promises to be far more interesting than even that cheeky title! Here goes our official WWJ Fearless Forecast for 2007 – all in one – huge – breath! M-commerce: The carriers? FeliCa-based services will continue to grab serious market share. At the end of 2006, DoCoMo had over 1 mln customers for their DCMX mobile credit-card service alone, not to mention the 18.3 mn regular FeliCa handsets in use as of 31 December. KDDI and SoftBank have FeliCa user bases in the millions as well.. grab a cuppa for after the jump!

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.

SoftBank Mobile Reports Modest MNP Success

Japan’s mobile carriers aren’t in turmoil — not so far, anyway. But Mobile Number Portability (MNP) has brought the nearest thing yet to a consumer-facing market meltdown, and the No. 1 Agent of Change is undoubtedly Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Mobile.

The media, industry analysts and Japan Wireless Watchers everywhere have been hit with two sets of numbers in the past fortnight: the initial, media-and-analysts-only post-MNP subscriber churn numbers released on 31 October (one week after MNP start) by NTT DoCoMo and KDDI (SoftBank Mobile was silent), followed by the regular monthly release of overall subscriber numbers issued on 8 November by the TCA Telecommunications Carriers Association; keep in mind that the TCA release is based on self-reporting from the carriers).

Japan's Still the World's High-Tech Testbed

This past week, WWJ’s own Lawrence Cosh-Ishii, our hard-working director of digital media (and pretty much everything else in our humble shop), appeared on US Web radio program "Into Tomorrow," hosted by Dave Graveline. Dave and his crew pop over to Tokyo each year for the annual CEATEC consumer tech show, and he makes it his business to hook up with a slate of guests who can provide insidery gen on what’s happening in Japan…

DoCoMo September Presser: Nakamura Emphasizes 3G Coverage

The September presser with NTT DoCoMo’s President Nakamura contained some interesting bits of info on 3G coverage; WWJ subscribers can log in and listen to the entire event on MP3 audio (see today’s Viewpoint).

Yes, I know that there has been an ongoing drumbeat in the media reporting spotty coverage for FOMA users. But Nakamura devoted a lot of time to explaining their ongoing and upcoming base station and 3G FOMA network coverage plans, emphasizing that the carrier would boost coverage at “JR stations, universities, junior colleges and high schools.”

Mobile email rocks!

I’ve had some interesting discussions in the past ten days with folks in Japan, Europe and elsewhere on the topic of mobile email. The topic also came up at last Friday’s W2 Forum seminar on Japan and Korea (“Trends & Insights from Japan & Korea“), held in London and attended by a lively and interesting group of folks from publishers, content providers, media, analysts, ad agencies, tech vendors and others.

Our 5th Birthday!

Our 5th Birthday!This week marked a major milestone for WWJ! In one form or another, I’ve been writing this email newsletter for five years — and what a five year term it’s been!

I spent a couple hours last night looking over past WWJ newsletters, and was struck by how much Japan’s mobile scene has changed. In 2001, when I started writing a weekly mobile-focused newsletter for J@pan Inc, i-mode had just celebrated its second birthday, KDDI had yet to roll out CDMA 1X services and the No. 3 competitor in the market was known as “J-Phone.”

Today, DoCoMo is far in the lead with their 3G FOMA service and music and TV are the new hot trends; i-mode itself has become almost dasai (uncool). KDDI have created one of the mightiest and most unified mobile platforms on Earth, with GPS-based blogging, shopping and PC Internet integration drawing huge usage. The company formerly known as J-Phone is about to become the company formerly known as Vodafone as Masayoshi Son attacks 3G mobile with the same successful discount focus with which he attacked NTT and home broadband.

Bonus ‘those were the days’ tidbits via the WWJ Newsletter after the jump!

CES 2006 Preview

Said to be the world’s largest consumer electronics tradeshow, CES, gets underway 5-8 January, in Las Vegas. While not open to the general public, CES previews consumer electronics and wireless technologies, devices and networks from over 2,500 exhibitors. The conference program, keynotes, SuperSessions, exhibitor news and press releases announce thousands of products. Announcements for new products are available for broadband, home networking, mobile/vehicle electronics, personal electronics, satellite systems, telephones, video, WiFi and wireless communications, as well as mobile entertainment and consumer VoIP. Check out the Wireless TechZone for the full list of upcoming presentations.