Unwired -- And It's Not Just the Cell Phone

Back to Contents of Issue: June 2000

The cell phone doesn't own the wireless future in Japan. Consumers already have a plethora of choices, including Nitsuko's FreeShot, which is only slightly bigger than a business card. On the way are a host of others, including PDAs and game machines. "Japan's always on the forefront, and will continue to be," says Jim McGrath, business development manager at Motorola Japan. "The devices that will become more popular are the video devices and handsets that have more computing abilities, similar to what you might see in a Palm Pilot."

And some argue that, far from killing the desktop PC, the cell phone is helping it. For many Japanese, the keitai is their introduction to the Web. Once they see how useful the Net can be, they want to see it on the (relatively) big screen. "People are using keitai to access the Net," says Gartner Group Japan analyst Kenshi Tazaki. "At this moment, they don't care so much that it is the Net. But gradually, they will learn that the Internet is good -- for getting information or for exchanging ideas. After that, these people will go back to their PCs. It will boost demand for access via PC."

A Bluetooth celly and earphone

The Palm
The Exire voiceless i-mode browser.
The Freeshot and mockups of various i-mode possibilities

"Many young people experiencing the Internet for the first time on cellular telephones will no doubt want to explore further and experience more powerful functionality as they grow and mature," says Tim Clark, president of TKAI, a Net consultancy, "especially in their work lives. The wireless boom is sure to spur Internet usage of all kinds."

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