WW-115 -- New Phones and Services Launched for the Holidays!

J@pan Inc presents the Wireless Watch Newsletter:


Commentary on Japan's Wireless World

Wireless Watch Newsletter
Issue No. 115
Thursday, December 11, 2003

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@@ Viewpoint: New Phones and Services Launched for the Holidays!

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@@ Viewpoint: New Phones and Services Launched for the Holidays!

In the past couple of weeks, a number of cool devices and services
have been launched on the Japanese market by KDDI and Vodafone. Of
course, we tried them all.

Vodafone has launched the Sanyo V801SA dual-mode 3G W-CDMA/GPRS phone.
The design of this phone reminds us of the Nokia 7650. Data roaming
between Europe and Japan is possible for the price of a mere 2 yen/kB.
This new Vodafone device can also handle the popular "chaku-uta"
(ringing songs) content.

Another interesting Vodafone device is the NEC-made 2.5G V601 phone
with a built-in analog TV-tuner. The image quality is problematic
inside certain buildings, but at night on the street, without disturbing
sunlight, reception is much better. While this cool gadget phone might
attract many early buyers wanting to show off their new toy, we doubt
if many people will really enjoy TV programs on their phone. TV
programs are not made for a small device; it's difficult to see
what actually happens on the small screen. Fortunately, we did not
experience any battery-life problems.

The interesting part of this TV service is that Vodafone can test
how their customers interact between TVs and mobile Web services.
Digital TV guides can be viewed on the mobile Web, and the next
logical step will be TV shopping -- watching a TV show, selecting
a displayed product and purchasing it, all via the mobile Web
on your cellphone.

Vodafone is offering a photo-album and agenda/calendar that are both
accessible from the mobile Web. The agenda functionalities are
basic, but this keeps them easy to use. It looks like a stand-alone
product that cannot be synchronized with other desk-top schedulers
such as Outlook.

We think the Vodafone service will have problems competing with
existing products on the market, as its response times, even with a
limited user-base, are rather slow. Not many users want to wait
a full 5 seconds before their agenda data displays in a pop-up window
on a PC.

KDDI started its 3G WIN service over the CDMA 1X EV-DO network with
Hitachi's W11H handset. Video clips are transmitted at night to the
user's handsets. All video programs are tailored to the small screen
and mobile Web services are well-integrated. The movie trailer channel
enables the user to link to a mobile Web site to access more
information and download wallpapers and ringtones.

One day after the launch of the service, KDDI discovered a minor
software glitch in the Hitachi handset. Users were promptly asked
to come to the KDDI shops for a software upgrade. This time of the
year, many are all-too-happy to return to the shops.

-- Arjen van Blokland

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Written by Arjen van Blokland; Edited by Roland Kelts


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