KDDI made two announcements over the weekend adding a new level of competitiveness to the brand and pushing the company's technology forward to meet new market demands. First, the company stated plans to abandon its traditional network service to join NTT DoCoMo and SoftBank Mobile Corp in using the "Long Term Evolution" system. The system, set to launch in 2010, will offer the high-speeds necessary for next-generation technology utilizing online applications and necessitating heavy downloads.
The second announcement was that of KDDI's plans for SaaS (Software as a Service), a new service offering users Outlook services such as mail, scheduling, address book, and document sharing. This may be the company's attempt at entering the market for business-users, becoming a competitor to EMobile and Willcom. This service may also be an attempt at getting a leg up on Apple's iPhone, a device which has yet to reach Japanese shores in spite of its popularity abroad.
Japanese cell phones, whose design and reputation belie their size and lack of innovative features, have traditionally left consumers with little more to decide between than color and brand name when deciding upon both carrier and model. Regardless of maker or service provider, phones generally all handle the same tasks in the same way, and features such as the ability to watch television or listen to the radio tend to satiate consumers who could be demanding things like better Internet integration or more functional services.
With all three major service providers in agreement to use this new technology, the market becomes open to more variety, more choice and more powerful technology. Users will now have the option to switch carriers while using the same handset, creating a new level of competitiveness not seen in the market before. Instead of relying on brand image, both cell phone makers and service providers will have to focus on innovation, better service and lower prices. These small steps taken by KDDI will help the industry take a giant leap out of the dark ages and into technological integration.
Written by Sarah Noorbakhsh
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