SoftBank Mobile Continues Winning Streak

The Telecommunications Carriers Association (TCA) is reporting that Softbank Mobile won the monthly net-subscriber addition war again for the month of November, marking the the seven consecutive victory for the former Vodafone operator! The company gained a total growth of 191,600 subscribers, or nearly double the combined results of KDDI, which added a net 65,400 subscribers, and DoCoMo with 48,200 net additions. DoCoMo is still, by far, the market leader with 53 million customers, followed by KDDI with almost 30 million and Softbank Mobile now at 17.4 million.

Disney Mobile to Launch MVNO in Japan

The announcement finally hit the web this week, possibly one of the worst kept secrets in recent times, that SoftBank and Disney have come to terms on rolling out the long-awaited Mickey Mouse MVNO in Japan. An obvious evolution, often speculated during the Vodafone years, for WDIG who launched on i-mode in 2000 and claim over 3M subscribers to their various official content offerings. While Google has dozens of posts about the ‘news’.. Wireless Watch Japan may have a nice little extra scoop!

SoftBank Mobile Winning New Subscriber War

The TCA just announced results for October confirming that SoftBank Mobile has won the most net subscribers for sixth consecutive months. Since the introduction of their so-called White Plan, which includes flat-rate voice calling within their network, the company has continued to grow it’s third place market share. According to the official numbers for October 2006, when SoftBank Mobile re-launched the troubled Vodafone KK operations, they have gained almost 2M new customers.

Sharp Ships 5-Million 1Seg TV Phones

Sharp announced on Friday that it has passed the five-million mark for shipments of 1Seg digital tv phones in Japan. Since releasing its first hanset in May 2006 – originally introduced by Vodafone KK – Sharp has deployed a total of eight models across all three operators. By reaching this milestone in less than 18 months, Sharp becomes the first OEM in the industry to ship five million 1Seg handsets.

Impressions from the MoMo Global Summit

Impressions from the MoMo Global SummitThe 3rd annual MobileMonday Global Summit was held in Helsinki, Finland, on 10 September with an estimated 1,500 attendees; this year included a bonus side-trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, the following evening. WWJ was there once again, as founders of the MoMo Tokyo chapter, along with representatives from over 20 MoMo cities around the world. In addition to our Trip Report, WWJ’s ed-in-chief Daniel Scuka offers these thoughts about the experience.

Viewpoint: What Leads Mobile in Japan?

Holographic projection demo at DoCoMo R&D Labs, November 2006 ©MobikyoThe genesis of today’s Viewpoint was back in March, when we spotted this op-ed referring to Japan mobile that had stated: “What’s different about the Japanese mobile market is that innovation is moving toward business models and marketing tactics instead of technical features and functions.” That op-ed piece in turn cited a new research report on eMarketer, “Japan: Marketing to a Mobile Society,” which insisted: “What stands out in the current Japanese experience is the fact that the center of gravity for getting through to Japanese mobile users has shifted in favor of business models and marketing tactics as opposed to new technical features and mobile phone functions.”

We took exception to both these as serious mis-analyses of the cornerstone role that technological innovation and network infrastructure competition have played – and continue to play – in powering Japan’s mobile success story. After contact with the eMarketer editors, we agreed to write separate opinion pieces, which we would both republish side-by-side in our newsletters, as an excellent way to hash out the topic and let you – our collective readers – decide.

Sadly, the marketing guys at eMarketer quashed the idea, as the subject and the detailed discussion would be “too technical a topic for our [eMarketer’s] newsletter.” But we know that WWJ readers are more than smart enough to figure out for themselves what’s really driving the mobile Internet in Japan! So we wished the eMarketer editors best of luck in the future, again gave thanks that WWJ doesn’t have any meddling marketing guys, and herewith present to you our Viewpoint.
(Subscribers login to access the full article by WWJ editor Daniel Scuka)

Image: Holographic projection demo at NTT DoCoMo R&D Labs, November 2006 ©Mobikyo

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 Charts Fiscal 2007 Plan

SoftBank Corp.’s President Masayoshi Son announced the companies vision going forward during the 27th regular meeting of shareholders held at Tokyo International Forum last week. Topics included an increased focus on contents, as previously signalled by the introduction of Yahoo! Streaming in May, and continued price war on voice services by adding a new total flat-rate calling package between family members to their already popular White Plan. According to their FYE 2006 results SoftBank added 10,000 new 3G base stations over the last fiscal year and plans to achieve a total 46,000 locations – almost on par with DoCoMo – installed by 1H FY2007.

SoftBank Mobile Rockin in May

When the TCA subscriber numbers came out on Thursday the champange corks were popping in Shiodome. For the first time ever the number 3 operator (J-Phone, then Vodafone and now SoftBank) gained the most net customers (162,400) on the month beating KDDI’s 138,500 and nearly double DoCoMo’s 82,700. While their Yahoo! portal also added more clients than EZweb and i-mode the company also managed to boost their 3G accounts up by nearly 500,000 month-on-month to total 8.6 million or 50% of their total subscriber base.