Tuesday, February 27, 2007


et infopack four out now

Just thought I'd mention that the February edition of the emerging trends infopack is out. This month's edition contains a few interesting stories that didn't make it up onto w2japan including a GPS chimp catching multiplayer mobile game and a keitai strap you customize to reflect your online profile.

The et infopack is a free monthly newsletter in PowerPoint format. You can check out past issues at http://emergingtrendsblog.blogspot.com/ and subscribe to receive the newsletter by email by sending a blank message to etsubscribe [at] worldforumgroup [dot] com


Monday, February 26, 2007


Live!Aurora lights up Japanese mobiles

Ever wanted to see the northern lights but couldn’t afford the trip to the Arctic Circle? “Live!Aurora for mobile” is the site for you!

“Live!Aurora” beams the sights of the aurora borealis from Alaska straight to your mobile. Due to the time zone difference, Japanese consumers can enjoy the sites of the aurora between lunchtime and evening. As well as being able to watch streaming video of the aurora, the site also offers video on demand and still images for download.

The site is a subscription service costing 315 yen per month ($2.60).


Friday, February 23, 2007


New survey gives insights into the effects of flat rate data on consumer behaviour

Last week Infoplant Japan published the results of their latest consumer survey on mobile usage. Here are some highlights:

• The number of respondents who use the mobile internet every day was 82% (up from 77% in the same survey last year)

• Flat rate data subscribers use the mobile internet more, with 88% accessing mobile sites every day compared to 54% of non flat rate customers

• Flat rate data subscribers are also more likely to have downloaded games (78% vs 57%), ringtones (78% vs 63%), shopped on their mobile (44% vs 26%) and signed up to subscription sites (59% vs 36%)

• However, there was not a great difference between flat rate and standard subscribers when it came to entering competitions (94% vs 93%), or receiving coupons (54% vs 50%)

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Soothing, stimulating and suppressing ringtones for muPass from Sammy

I’ve posted about muPass in the past – it’s the technology that allows you to send ringtones from your mobile to compatible everyday devices such as cookers, baby mobiles and alarm clocks

Today, Sammy, the company behind muPass, announced that they will be releasing new muPass ringtones which they developed in collaboration with the Japan Accoustic Lab and the Japan Ringing Tone Laboratory (yes, it actually does exist – I checked!).

From tomorrow, visitors to the muPass mobile site will be able to download “stop the baby crying”, “dolphin therapy” and “wake up feeling great” ringtones, which the company claims are scientifically proven to work. Sammy is planning to release further ringtones in March including “get motivated” and “suppress that anger”. Personally, I look forward to the release of a “calm down it’s only a traffic jam” ringtone I can transfer to my car ;)

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100 million full track downloads for au

In a press release today, Japanese telecoms company KDDI announced that the number of chaku-uta full (full track music) downloads on their au mobile network hit the 100 million mark last week. Proving the adage that you have to give to get back, KDDI revealed that 90% of the tracks were paid for, with the other 10% given away free in promotions etc.

au launched full track music downloads in November 2004 and achieved their millionth download in just one and a half months. Recently, the operator has been strengthening their music offering with more music-focused handsets and an iTunes-esque music download service called Lismo. KDDI revealed that it has seen 170,000 downloads from the Lismo PC music storefront which opened in May 2006.

In the same press release, the company announced that the number of chaku-uta (realtones) that have been downloaded on the network now exceeds 400 million.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Smoke detector provides mobile alarm system

In Japan, mobile technology is finding its way into all manner of everyday objects such as vending machines, snowploughs, wristwatches and even your favourite pet’s food dish. As of yesterday you can add smoke alarm to that list.

The smoke alarm in question has been developed by Japanese company Keisoku Giken and adds a mobile cradle to your traditional smoke alarm to provide a mobile emergency alert system. When the detector senses smoke, it not only makes a sound but also dials a pre-registered number to alert the owner of the fire.

According to the company, the system could be used in temples and buildings of historic interest, unmanned warehouses, buildings under construction, restaurants and holiday homes. They also predict demand from families of elderly people living on their own. The alarm is now on sale in Japan for 16,800 yen ($140) but to use it you must purchase a separate handset and subscription.

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Monday, February 19, 2007


Podcast interview with Shinya Yokota of DoCoMo

Well I'm back from 3GSM 2007 in Barcelona and one of the clear highlights of the show yet again was DoCoMo's stand. The latest spring handset collection was on display including the Mitsubishi touchscreen clamshell and there were also demos of wallet phones and the natural disaster emergency message board.

I managed to catch 10 minutes with Shinya Yokota, a member of DoCoMo's international PR team, to record a podcast interview on some of the exciting handsets and services that DoCoMo have launched and are planning for the future. You can hear the podcast at the end of this link.

The World Forum Research team interviewed an interesting mix of people from the mobile sphere while we were at 3GSM. We'll be uploading the podcasts onto our new Friday Feed Blog and updating all this week. Check the site out to find out who else we talked to!

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Monday, February 12, 2007


Off to 3GSM

In a few hours I'll be off to Barcelona to attend this year's 3GSM. I'll be doing podcast interviews at the Wireless World Forum booth in hall 2 floor 1 a16 for most of Tuesday and Wednesday. If you're passing make sure you drop by and say hi!

Hope to see you there!



First ever Japan blog matsuri at What Japan Thinks

It turns out my Japanese-themed Matsuri of the Mobilists was picked up and entered into another blog matsuri of Japanese-themed blogs on the topic of matsuri! In other words my matsuri is part of a matsuri about matsuri.

Confused? Just go check out the first ever Japan blog matsuri over at the excellent source of trivia, What Japan Thinks. Well done for setting this up, Ken. I'll definitely be contributing to this one in the future.


Friday, February 09, 2007


Why youth use/don't use mobile communities

Top 3 reasons why youth use mobile SNS…

1. To kill time

2. Because my friends do

3. To communicate with people I know

…and top 3 reasons they don’t:

1. Not enough time

2. Data charges too high

3. Mobile difficult to use

(According to a recent consumer study by Rakuten Research Japan)


Thursday, February 08, 2007


GPS map chat application launches

iMapFan” is a map service for imode which offers a range of services including a map-based search, car navigation and “I’m here!” emails. Today they launched a new service, “Map Messenger” - a map-based GPS chat application.

Members of the chat are displayed on the map with according to their GPS location and the application has three modes – centre on yourself, centre on the other parties or an automatic mode which zooms in and out of the map to provide the best view of all chat members. It also has an alert function which vibrates when someone on your buddy list is near.

The service is free to use if you are invited to a chat, but you have to be a subscriber to iMapFan’s premium service if you want to start your own chat. Subscription is 315 yen (£1.50) per month, which gives you access to all iMapFan’s premium features.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Strange ears cause a stir in Japanese mobile forums

Inputting Japanese into your mobile is a bit more complex than your average T9 and there are various competing systems vying for a place on the latest handset models. Every so often gremlins can creep into the input system and these are quickly picked up by Japanese mobile enthusiasts and do the rounds of mobile review sites and bulletin boards.

According to this article, the latest “scandal” concerns the character 穂 or “ear” (of a grain rather than the body part), which I can safely say I have never had the need to type into my mobile in my life. When you enter the character using the input system on the Panasonic P903i, launched in November last year, the phone displays the character with a rogue extra dot in the top right hand corner.

Let this be a warning to any P903i owners wanting to discuss the condition of the ears of corn from their latest harvest!



Maintain your molars with your mobile

Nobody likes going to the dentist, but there have been a couple of dental-related mobile services recently released in Japan that make the whole ordeal that bit less painful.

First is “Let’s go to the dentist!”, a mobile dentist search. Not only can you search and find dental clinics all over Japan, you can also search for specialist dentists and view their locations on a map. After your visit, you can write a review of the whole ordeal to receive points which you can swap for goods or redeem as cashback on your next visit.

If you happen to have your own dental practice, “Pocket Reserver” by Nakatsu is the service for you. “Pocket Reserver” is all you need to mobilise your clinic – the system allows patients to search for free appointments and book from their mobile then automatically sends reminder and thank you messages. The basic system costs only 999 yen (£5) a month. Bargain!


Monday, February 05, 2007


Carnival of the mobilists 61 - mobilist matsuri!

It’s been over half a year since I hosted carnival number 34 at Wireless World Forum. This time, I decided to host it at w2japan and so I’m giving this carnival a Japanese theme. The Japanese love a carnival just as much as anyone else (祭りmatsuri is the Japanese for carnival). Welcome to Mobilist Matsuri number 61!

Although matsuri are a lot of fun, there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly – and it’s the same for the mobile industry. This week’s postings that look behind the scenes of mobile include CEO on MIDP3, Ajit at Opengardens on using Java as a middleware to mobile Ajax, Martin Sauter on problems with Wifi congestion at conferences and Symbian-Guru on mobile voip or moip.

No carnival is complete without music and our matsuri maestro is Xen at Xellular Identity. Xen continues her series of fascinating interviews (well I would say that – I took part in one last year ;) ) on the mobile industry with John White from Portio Research. Read his thoughts on digital music at the end of the link.

There’s something magical about a matsuri and this one’s no different. Helen Keegan talks about sending marketing messages through thin air using Bluetooth. Justin at Mopocket and Tomi at Communities Dominate Brands write about turning web content into mobile content. Abracadabra! Meanwhile, Peggy Anne Salz reads consumers’ minds to find them mobile content they’ll love. They say that magicians should never reveal the tricks of their trade, but Gabe Frost bends this rule and lets us in on a few secrets of 802.11n.

On matsuri day in Japan, it’s common for teams to build floats and race them in the streets. Bill Day at Billday.com looks at the two horse race between Nokia and Motorola and wonders whether Apple can upset the balance.

Many Japanese matsuri are dedicated to gods. This week’s matsuri god (a.k.a posting of the week) is the Design Translator at Design Sojurn with a petition to bring back buttons on mobile phones.

No Japanese matsuri would be complete without food stalls. These brightly coloured shops sell a mixture of foods from all over the world and our matsuri has an equally eclectic selection of food for thought. Greg at Twofones chews the fat on whether a US ruling forcing operators to unlock their phones will really free the consumer. Wap review serves up a guide to bookmarklets in Opera Mini. Anders at Abiro gives us a bite-sized opinion piece on why the mobile is not as limited as some think. Finally, Michael Mace at Mobile Opportunity provides a recipe for success for companies in the mobile data industry.

From Japan to Barcelona... don't forget the matsuri that is 3GSM next week! Mobilist events include Rudy's Mobile Monday Peer Awards and Helen's Swedish Beers. See you there!

Next week's carnival is hosted by Mike Butcher at MBites.

UPDATE: The carnival seems to have gone MIA while the dust settles from 3GSM. I believe the next edition will be at Helen Keegan's blog soon. Don't adjust your set!


Friday, February 02, 2007


I found a QR code reader that works with my N73!

I do quite a few postings on QR codes and really believe that they will be as just as big outside Japan (I’m also writing a report which is nearly complete on how they can be used).

Recently I got my hands on a Nokia N73 and I’ve been trying to install a QR code reader on the handset. Nokia posted their own barcode reader on the N73 section of their website but it wouldn’t install on my handset (and quite a few others’, judging by the support forums) and Nokia took it down pretty quickly. Today I finally found a reader that works!

The first clue was this article on Japanese mobile news site +D mobile. It’s a selection of questions sent in by readers on the recently released 705NK (aka the Japanese N73). One reader asks whether the handset can read QR codes (as many non-Japanese manufacturers seem to miss this quite important function off their lists) and the answer is, predictably, no. However, the article goes on to say that there is a QR code reader available, bizarrely, [on the N73 page of Nokia Taiwan (the English file name gives it away).

The application seems to be built by ScanLIFE, creators of the eZcode. I tried installing it on my UK N73 and it works fine (albeit with the slight hitch that the camera automatically starts when you open the lens cover – so you have to close that before you run the app). However, it's not as good as my current favourite reader (the QuickMark reader on my Nokia 7610).



Subscribers get to choose new DoCoMushroom

Mascots are a well-used gimmick in the Japanese operator’s marketing toolbox – and even better is a mascot whose name is a play on words. Thus we have the “au shika” (can be translated as “au deer” or “just au”), the now missing-in-action Vodaphone KK “shimakuris” (“stripy chestnuts” or “do something [i.e. call and text] again and again”) and the “DoCoMo dake” family (“DoCoMo mushrooms” or “only DoCoMo”).

Originally the DoCoMushrooms were a three-generation family of grandparents, parents and little kid mushrooms. But last February, the operator added a young female character to the lineup to great fanfare. Today DoCoMo announced that Ms. DoCoMushroom is to be given a love interest – and DoCoMo subscribers will get the chance to choose her new beau from a shortlist of potential suitors.

The candidates include “reggae boy”, “tearaway”, “wanderer” and “preppy” and subscribers can cast their vote on a dedicated i-mode site. DoCoMo are dismissive of any particular special plan for the promotion, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more was to be revealed on a certain special romantic event in February (and no, I don't mean 3GSM)…


Thursday, February 01, 2007


Create nail art on the go with "Nail Club"

Japan is unique in that consumer studies show that females use the mobile internet more than their male counterparts and you can see evidence of this in the large number of content sites aimed mainly at women. “Beauty Walker” and “howzy!BEAUTY” are a couple of examples I’ve posted in the past.

Add recently announced “Nail Club” to that list. “Nail Club” is a nail art simulator for the mobile. You start with a blank canvas (an unpolished nail) and create your own design using 72 colours, 300 types of airbrush, 200 holograms, 100 3D decorations and 300 gems.

An interesting point to note about “Nail Club” is the unusual way the creators are marketing the application. Instead of the usual monthly subscription model purchased through a mobile site (hey, it’s difficult to navigate those mobile menus when you’ve got nails like Edward Scissorhands), “Nail Club” will go on sale as a retail package in stores popular with young women in the trendy Tokyo areas of Shibuya, Shinjuku and Roppongi. The retail pack will contain a link to download and a serial number to unlock the application. It’s a good tactic to get the mobile application to exactly the audience who will use it.

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