WW-103 -- Vodafone痴 3G Service and the Rebranding of J-Phone

J@pan Inc presents the Wireless Watch Newsletter:
Commentary on the Business of Wireless in Japan

Wireless Watch Newsletter
Commentary on the Business of Wireless in Japan
Issue No. 103, Tokyo, Tuesday, August 19, 2003


++ Viewpoint: Vodafone痴 3G Service and the Rebranding of J-Phone

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++ Viewpoint: Vodafone's 3G Service and the Rebranding of J-Phone

J-Phone will change its name to Vodafone on October 1. The Japanese are
being introduced to the Vodafone brand through an aggressive campaign
using Michael Schumacher, Japanese soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata and
the immensely popular David Beckham.

The first Vodafone shops have already sprung up in the streets of Tokyo,
and new phones are carrying the Vodafone logo. The trains of the Yamanote
Line, Tokyo痴 crowded circular line, are plastered with posters and
stickers announcing the new brand. The rebranding will also have its impact
on the more than 12.5 million subscribers to J-Sky, the mobile Internet
service. J-Sky will be renamed Vodafone live! and the current domains for
email will change from jp-x.ne.jp to x.vodafone.ne.jp.

Under the new 堵aijin・management team, J-Phone has had a slightly
disappointing performance. It lost the battle for the No. 2 position in the
Japanese market to KDDI. To keep healthy growth figures, Vodafone must
acquire more customers.

For some time, camera phones from J-Phone were most appealing to new
customers. Though late to market, both NTT DoCoMo and KDDI introduced camera
phones with photo/video messaging services and could grab an increasing share
of customers interested in camera phones. In July, KDDI acquired three times
as many new subscribers as J-Phone. It will be difficult for Vodafone to
reverse this trend without introducing new consumer products and services.

The challenge for Vodafone is to make its brand a well-known one. Last weekend,
we measured Vodafone brand awareness in front of a remodeled J-Phone shop in
the residential Sangenjaya district in Tokyo, where many students live. Less
than one out of six people we asked knew of the Vodafone brand. Vodafone will
probably not be alarmed by this as it faced similar problems when it rebranded
in Germany from D2 Mannesman. However, the current advertisement campaigns to
increase brand awareness are pretty expensive in Japan. That money could be
used to acquire new customers or roll out new services, instead.

J-Phone痴 3G uptake has been slow because of the lack of interesting phones
and new services. This could be intentional, giving Vodafone the time to
gradually gain experience with the operation of 3G networks and services. The
big push will come in October, when Vodafone introduces a new dual-mode phone
(W-CDMA and tri-band GSM) from Sanyo. The model of the phone looks like the
popular Nokia 7650. This Sanyo phone is equipped with a twin outer and inner
camera and has a WAP 2.0 browser. Users can send 40s movie-mail (MPEG4 and
Nancy) and sha-mail. Vodafone also offers voice and data roaming between the
carriers in Japan, UK, Spain and Germany. The videotelephony service will
initially only be offered in Japan and is surprisingly priced at the same rate
as voice calls.

The re-launch of Vodafone痴 3G services will heat up the competition between
DoCoMo痴 Foma Vodafone 3G, and KDDI痴 cdma 1X. Videotelephony using the
digital 64kbps channel will be cheaper than for FOMA. Vodafone痴 roaming
data and voice services will also be more appealing than the current offering
of DoCoMo, where you have to switch phones when traveling abroad. We will
certainly have an interesting year ahead in Japan with a growing focus on the
marketing of new 3G phones and services.

-- Arjen van Blokland


鄭 Global Standard・from our May issue

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Date: Tuesday September 9th, City Club of Tokyo Maple Room
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SUBSCRIBERS: 4,370 as of August 19, 2003

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


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