Wednesday, August 30, 2006
A friend of mine, Helen from BeepMarketing, found Coca Cola Japan's website and had a few questions about how consumers can use their mobiles to pay for drinks on Cmode vending machines. You can read more about the details in her posting.
KDDI team up with Toyota to release handset
Today KDDI announced a tie-up with Toyota to produce an au branded handset specifically designed to work with Toyota vehicles.
The handset, called TiMO, is based on a Toshiba handset already sold on the au network. The Toyota version of the handset will connect to the car’s onboard satnav system via Bluetooth to provide an easy-to-use guidance interface. Toyota will also offer the option of a special armrest featuring a recharging slot for the driver to put their TiMO whilst on the road.
The TiMO will be sold in Toyota outlets from the end of October and the package includes a year’s free sub-ion to ‘Helpnet’ – an emergency communication service which uses GPS to send the car’s location to the authorities in the case of an emergency.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
'Drink' phone launch date announced
DoCoMo have announced that the most unique phone of their summer lineup, the N702iS by NEC, will go on sale this Friday.
As has become a common practice with manufacturers in Japan, the handset was designed in collaboration a designer. Ooki Sato’s vision is a ‘glass style’ phone that can be customised with different drink themed covers. The phone comes in three basic colour schemes – ‘Mineral Water’, ‘Strawberry Milk’ and ‘Cafe Latte’ and ‘Hot Chocolate’, ‘Soda’, ‘Cranberry’, ‘Orange Juice’ and ‘Green Tea’ covers are also available to give the phone a different flavour.
The drink theme extends beyond the covers – the phone also boasts an ‘aquaillumination’ feature (bubble-like lights which flash to signal incoming calls and emails). The best bit, however is the liquid themed default wallpaper which is linked to tilt sensors in the handset and reacts to movement as liquid would in a glass. The level of liquid left corresponds to the remaining battery level, so you can tell at a glance whether you will shortly need a refill. The wallpaper is not the only function to use the motion sensors – the phone also includes an ingenious eggtimer which is activated and reset through tipping the handset.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Japanese operators jumping on the SNS bandwagon
There have been reports in the Nikkei newspaper today that Softbank is planning to launch a Social Networking Service (SNS) aimed at their mobile users this Autumn.
According to the report, Softbank's service will allow subscribers to create a profile, write diaries and upload photos taken on their cameraphones. In the light of some of the safety concerns of SNS services such as MySpace that have been picked up in the media recently, Softbank are apparently planning a system whereby only friends and family can view a subscriber’s SNS page.
If the reports are correct, Softbank will become the second Japanese operator to look to establishing an SNS following the announcement in July by KDDI that they had bought shares in popular Japanese PC SNS GREE with the view to creating a SNS which can be used on both the PC and KDDI’s au mobile service.
Friday, August 18, 2006
London event on trends in Japan and Korea
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Mobile TV comes to wristwatches
Asahi beer has announced a promotional campaign with a rather interesting first prize. Five thousand lucky winners can get their hands on a wristwatch containing a mobile digital TV tuner which also doubles up as a PHS handset.
The rather chunky watch sports a 2.4 inch screen and receives the digital terrestrial OneSeg signal used by many mobile TV handsets in Japan. As if that wasn’t enough, the device also contains a W-Sim slot allowing winners to insert a Willcom W-Sim core module, adding voice calling, mail and browser functionality via the PHS network.
While the prize might be exciting and mobile related, the campaign is a bit more traditional. Hopeful beer drinkers collect stickers from promotional cans and send them in to be entered in a prize draw.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Mobile service to beat the queues at top restaurants launched
At the weekend, I went to a restaurant in London I’d heard served some pretty special spicy king prawns. It seemed I wasn’t the only one who wanted to eat there on a Friday night and when I got there it was crowded and I had to wait outside for a table. Unfortunately I had become too accustomed to the great weather we’ve been having in London and was ill-prepared for the rain shower which so helpfully coincided with my wait outside the restaurant.
This morning I read about a new service in Japan that could have saved me from getting wet. Doko-iko is a service which gives information about the levels of crowding and the waiting times for popular attractions, amusement parks and restaurants. The information on crowding and waiting times is not provided by the attractions and restaurants, but the general public themselves. The service offers incentives such as discount vouchers in return for updates.
Sounds like an interesting service, but the whole idea relies on updates from the public, so the crucial thing will be how good these ‘incentive’ vouchers will be.
Monday, August 07, 2006
QR code travel information service launched in Tokyo
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau of Transportation has been putting QR codes on bus stops around the city and will launch a new QR code based travel information service on August 10th.
The service provides timetables for buses that visit the bus stop and also has tracking capabilities, informing the passenger how far away the next bus is. The service is also available for phones that don’t support QR codes. Each bus stop has a unique number which passengers can enter manually into the mobile site to receive the same travel information.
QR codes are becoming an integral part of Japanese mobile life with recent research suggesting that around 70% of mobile owners use QR codes to access mobile content. Their adoption by the public as well as private sector (see also this article) looks set to cement that position further.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Secret Compact 2 - platformer with interesting twist
Mobgame.jp have just released a mobile platformer with an interesting twist. The game is called “Secret Compact 2” and is the sequel to “Secret Compact”. The main character in the game is an ordinary girl called “Lovely” who has a secret – she can use her compact to turn into crime avenging superhero “Lovely Girl”.
The game is a standard platform affair which sees the player exploring levels and collecting hearts which increase Lovely’s compact charge. When the charge reaches maximum, Lovely can change into Lovely Girl and attack baddies and save babies etc. etc.
What makes the game special is the unique control method players use to transform Lovely into Lovely Girl. The phone is used to carry out the transformation and the player has to close and open the handset as if it were a compact. Secret Compact 2 adds new stages and transformation patterns and is available for 210 yen.