WW-120 -- DoCoMo痴 FOMA 900i handsets launched -- Our overview of the new services and features

J@pan Inc presents the Wireless Watch Newsletter:


Commentary on Japan's Wireless World

Wireless Watch Newsletter
Issue No. 120
Thursday, February 12, 2004

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@@ Viewpoint: DoCoMo痴 FOMA 900i handsets launched -- Our overview of
the new services and features

============ NEW THIS MONTH! ================

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>> Leo Lewis joins the Blackman family as they return to Japan for the
first time since the body of hostess Lucie Blackman was discovered in a
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crime, Roppongi bars -- and a chilling courtroom confrontation with the

>> Celia Farber reports from New York: An exclusive interview with
superstar chef Marc Samuelsson, whose latest venture, RIINGO, an
upscale Japanese-American restaurant, opened just a few weeks ago in
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chef from Tokyo and his Swedish (!) culinary partner.
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>> Meet the uber-confident chief behind Japan's globally dominant
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>> How bad is Japan's water? Trek with us to a UN forum to find out.

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@@ Viewpoint: DoCoMo痴 FOMA 900i Handsets Launched -- Our overview of
the new services and features

On February 6, DoCoMo introduced its new series of 3G FOMA handsets,
with its first model made by Fujitsu. This week, we bought the F900i
phone and road-tested several of the new services.

Here are our first impressions:

DoCoMo痴 content team has done a great job lining up a number of game
providers. For example: A terrific simulation game is called "Go with
the train," from Taito. Players can pilot a train that they're intimately
familiar with. (True: This game was already available for the 503i, 504i
and 505i series -- but the 900i version is really cool.)

The Yamanote-sen, Tokyo痴 inner-city rail line, looks astonishingly
real on the F900i. Expect to see the real freaks (and there are plenty
of them around) playing this mobile game while riding on Tokyo's
numerous trains -- especially the Yamanote-sen itself. (How's that
for a self-reflexive postmodern reality?)

The networked gaming society in Japan is massive. The new
generation of handsets on the horizon support many features offered
by the advanced PC/Internet games. The game providers and ISPs that
already have a billing relationship with their customers will certainly
exploit this by providing multi-channel access through PCs and
mobile networks. Mobile gaming extensions can be offered
independently of the carriers.

Will the carriers mind? We don稚 think so, as they will make more
revenue from traffic than they will from the share of content

ATIS offers a Java application to retrieve real-time traffic information
nationwide. The QVGA-screen provides meticulously detailed map-views. It's
a pity that DoCoMo does not provide GPS-based location services -- at
least not yet. The new generation of phones could then replace the
car-navigation systems currently installed in millions of
Japanese autos.

Another attractive feature of the 900i phones is their capability to
handle not only text-based but also html-based mail. Mail-magazines
promoting m-commerce sites and content will have an excellent opportunity
to become more interesting by adding colors and images.

The production cost for rich contents -- Java, flash, Brew, video --
are high and difficult to justify at this moment, according to several
content providers we spoke to. This hesitation will disappear as soon
as the number of 900i handsets sold exceeds 1 million -- something we
expect to happen by early this spring.

Till then, all these new features do not come cheap. Packet fees for
downloads of a 100KB Flash vary from 40 to 170 yen, depending on the
type of subscription -- and these charges come on top of the
basic content charges.

After Vodafone and KDDI already trotted them out, DoCoMo has finally
begun offering "chaku-uta" songs. Together with the other new features
of the phone, and the improved FOMA network coverage, DoCoMo customers
will no longer have many reasons to switch to KDDI or Vodafone when
they seek out a replacement for their (suddenly) dated models.

-- Arjen van Blokland

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Written by Arjen van Blokland; Edited by Roland Kelts


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