DoCoMo Europe Subsidiary to Close

NTT DoCoMo just announced that DoCoMo Europe (France) S.A.S., a wholly owned subsidiary of DoCoMo Europe Ltd., will be closed at the end of this year and a representative office in Paris will be established in January 2008. With the main role of the subsidiary now reduced to the monitoring of the European telecom industry, DoCoMo has decided to replace it with a representative office that will liaise in matters related to DoCoMo’s business interests in Europe.

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.”

KDDI Continues Net Subscriber Advantage

The CDMA Development Group has congratulated KDDI for signing up more new users than their rivals since Japan’s mobile number portability (MNP) rules took effect on October 24, 2006. While more than one million subscribers changed their service provider between October 24, 2006 and January 31, 2007, KDDI has witnessed a net increase of 600,000 3G subscribers. The other Japanese operators have seen a net reduction. Also, when considering all new subscriptions within the three months ending in January 2007, KDDI garnered 67 percent of the total number of net subscriptions.

JBlend Powers K610im 3G Handset

Aplix Corp. announced its JBlend Java platform has been deployed in Sony Ericsson’s K610im 3G handset. The incorporation of Aplix’s JBlend technology enables a variety of compelling content and Java experience for K610im users to enjoy, including games and multimedia applications. JBlend platform will also be deployed in Sony Ericsson’s other models that are under development.

Casio to Deliver 3G Data Cards to EU

CASIO Europe and Sierra Wireless have announced a marketing agreement that brings 3G wireless connectivity to CASIO mobile data collecting terminals in Europe. Under the terms of the agreement, the IT-3000, DT-X10, and new DT-X11 mobile data collecting terminals will support Sierra Wireless’s AirCard 850 wireless wide area network (WWAN) card for HSDPA UMTS networks. With the AirCard 850 card, CASIO’s mobile data collecting terminals can transfer data via UMTS, HSDPA, EDGE, GSM, and GPRS networks worldwide.

DoCoMo's Blackberry: Q&A with Research in Motion Japan

DoCoMo's Blackberry: Q&A with Research in Motion JapanThe pending Japan arrival of Research in Motion (RIM)’s hyperpopular BlackBerry email device, widely known as the ‘CrackBerry’ for its simple, efficient and addictive delivery of corporate email, will inject a new dimension into this country’s complex device and service matrix.
A wise move or a sign of desperation? These two viewpoints seem to characterize media, pundits’ and bloggers’ responses to last month’s announcement that DoCoMo would bring the BlackBerry email device into Japan, in partnership with RIM, based in Canada. Our own take on it was: Who Cares? WWJ was mindful that “virtually everyone in Japan’s workforce already has an always-on, fully connected email device right in their back pocket — in other words, a phone!”

Furthermore, before and since then, there has been more news, helping make it even more difficult to assess the BlackBerry’s prospects.

According to the pundits, NTT DoCoMo’s decision to import the BlackBerry is either (a) a master stroke aimed at securing the giant carrier’s corporate mobile offerings as 3G competition heats up in 2006/07, or (b) expensive folly that will see enterprise sales teams saddled with a clunky, ‘not-made-here’ device that competes poorly if at all against universal 3G phones that already receive push mail in real time, thank you very much (and some media reports have stated the first Japan BlackBerrys won’t even accept Japanese text input). The truth, however, is probably somewhere between these extremes, and so WWJ went straight to the source.

DoCoMo Announces BlackBerry for Japan

NTT DoCoMo, Inc. and Research In Motion (RIM) announced today that DoCoMo will start marketing RIM’s BlackBerry handheld devices to its corporate customers in autumn 2006. The BlackBerry handheld devices to be sold in Japan will operate on both W-CDMA (UMTS) and GSM/GPRS networks and will be useable around the world for voice and data communications. BlackBerry Enterprise Server software tightly integrates with Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino and Novell GroupWise, and enables secure, push-based wireless access to e-mail and other corporate data.

Qualcomm's Universal Mobile TV Chip

QUALCOMM announced its single-chip Universal Broadcast Modem (UBM) solution supporting three of the world’s leading mobile broadcast standards. The UBM solution unifies the world’s leading mobile TV standards into a single, cost-effective chip with support for FLO technology, as well as for Digital Video Broadcasting — Handheld (DVB-H) and one-segment Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting — Terrestrial (ISDB-T), creating a common platform that handset manufacturers can leverage to address multiple standards. Designed to be compatible with both CDMA2000 and WCDMA/UMTS devices, the UBM solution is expected to sample in the first quarter of 2007.

[This represents a huge opportunity for the 1Seg platform in Japan — Eds]

NEC to Deliver HSDPA to 3 Hong Kong

NEC Corporation today announced that its High Speed Down link Packet Access (HSDPA) is to be deployed in the 3G network of 3 Hong Kong, a subsidiary of Hutchison Telecommunications (Hong Kong) Limited. This contract has been awarded to NEC and its 3G partner Siemens following a successful field trial on 3 Hong Kong’s UMTS network. During the field trial, NEC’s HSDPA-based UTRAN achieved a high level of performance and functionality, including high-speed internet access, consecutive data transmission and handover in a HSDPA service environment, while allowing flexible and variable changes in transmission speed.

Bridging the Mobile Gaming Divide

Bridging the Mobile Gaming DivideDespite all the effort WWJ has put into finding and covering software developers that have successfully transitioned out of Japan’s navel-gazing mobile market to markets elsewhere, I must admit we haven’t found thousands. Or even dozens. But one of them is Shinjuku, Tokyo-based G-mode, and this week the Japanese mobile game maker and its Dublin, Ireland-based partner Upstart Games said four IQ-enhancing games, already popular in Japan, would be distributed in the US and Europe via Upstart. The news underscores the profits to be found when forward-thinking mobile players work hard to bridge the wireless culture divide.

Upstart’s CEO Barry O’Neil told WWJ that the company has been planning to launch a brain training game for mobile since the runaway success of the genre in Japan late last year. Ironically, the Irish side was initially skeptical that such a narrow niche could win operator interest in Europe or the US. “We’ve a relationship with G-mode dating back to last year, and their Right Brain Paradise was something we’d looked at in the past, but felt gaining operator support could be difficult. Now that the genre is becoming more widely known we felt the time was right to introduce this mobile series,” he wrote in an email yesterday.

The three-game series, dubbed, “I.Q. Academy” is intended to help get players’ brains in shape by offering games designed to exercise the brain’s right side and improve spatial, visual and cognitive skills in the player. I.Q. Academy is based on G-mode’s hyperpopular ‘Right Brain Paradise’ series, which, according to the company, has sold almost two million downloads. The series is expected to launch in Europe and the US in the coming months (WWJ subscribers log in for full article).