WW-159 -- Location-based Services

J@pan Inc presents the Wireless Watch Newsletter:

W I R E L E S S W A T C H

Commentary on the Business of Wireless in Japan
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Issue No. 159
Monday January 8, 2006
Tokyo

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CONTENTS
+ Viewpoint: Location-based Services

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+ Viewpoint: Location-based Services

Starting in April 2007, the Japanese Government requires
that all new third-generation mobile phones support
position notification functionality using GPS. The latest
3G-models of the three carriers indeed all come with GPS.
Time to take a look what location-based services are offered.

Back in the nineties, car navigation units were already a
best seller in Japan. Graphical 3D color maps were already
popular in Japan when European and American marketers were
still of the opinion that their consumers were only interested
in voice navigation and simple maps with arrows and street
names. Like all major electronics makers, the Japanese have
missed the recent navigation boom in Europe and the US where
TomTom and Garmin have grasped a major share of the market
with technologies that were widely available in Japan eight
years ago. These technologies are now available in Japanese
mobile phones - the latest KDDI/AU models even offer 3D
color maps with GPS navigation.

KDDI/AU has the most advanced location-based services
offering. Its service is called EZ Naviwalk. With Naviwalk
maps can be searched using keywords and phone numbers. Local
weather information and timetables for your location can be
easily retrieved. You can set your own spots and find the
shortest route with a mixture of walking, train and public
transport. Duogate, KDDI/AU's PC web portal offers these
services as well. Car navigation-like services to find routes
are free of charge. The other services cost 210 yen per month
and to have access to real time traffic and public transport
information costs an additional 105 yen.

Salesmen can enter the addresses of their customers to visit
during the day in Duogate to calculate and register the most
efficient route with travel instructions and access these
during the days from their mobile phone. KDDI also offers
parents a service to trace the location of their children
that have a GPS-enabled phone.

DoCoMo originally used cell-based navigation called iArea.
The accuracy was less than with GPS. Forced by the Government,
the 903i-series of DoCoMo now feature GPS, like the latest
Softbank phones.

Successful location-based services providers are mobile
venture Navitime and mapmaker Zenrin that offers fancy
service that mixes real images of the location, 3D and
2D maps. HitachiSoft, a GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
provider, will extend its Geomation services to DoCoMo and
KDDI/AU starting March. GeoMation is presently used in the
management of electricity, water and gas facilities using
its map-based system. With the mobile extension, sales and
product transportation will be supported to its customers
in areas such as disaster prevention, disaster measures,
and insurance-finance-property transactions. The software
is priced at 714,000 yen per month for 100 users.

Although one might argue that due to the non-existence of
street names, location-based services making use of extensive
graphics might only be successful in Japan. Did we not hear
the same from the Western marketers ten years ago?

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STAFF
Written by Arjen van Blokland; edited by the
J@pan Inc staff (editors@japaninc.com)
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