Microsoft Japan Finally Upgrades Staffs’ 4 Years-old Windows Phone

Microsoft Japan announced today that its employees are to get Lumia 830 instead of their current Windows Phone IS12T, Windows Phone device which are not sold in Japan. The announcement also notes that the company got Lumia 830’s Giteki-certification only for this purpose, to legalize its employees’ usage of the phone.

IS12T, made by Fujitsu and provided by KDDI au since 2011, is the only-ever sold Windows Phone in Japan. (There are a few SIM-free Windows Phone being planned for this summer by rather small vendors.)

IS12T is only upgradable from Windows Phone 7.5 to Windows Phone 7.8, not the latest version 8.0. Because of such situation, both user and application bases of Windows Phone are now pretty inactive in Japan. It seems that MS Japan staff have been forced to use the IS12T for 4 years.

Microsoft Japan tells that the Lumia 830 Giteki-certified does not directly mean that the handset would be available for regular Japanese consumers.

Some pointed out on Twitter that this move may be related with the Microsoft Japan’s developers event de:code held tomorrow. As the event attendees might be gifted Windows Phone, and as there are no other legal Windows Phone in Japan, that would be this same Giteki-certified Lumia 830.

via PC Watch

Up To 100 IMs Simuiltaneously! CyberAgent Releases Teen Girl MS “DECOLINK”

CyberAgent, Inc. [J] has released the smartphone free messenger service DECOLINK [J], geared towards teen girls, for their Smartphone Ameba [J].

“DECOLINK” is a free smartphone messenger service  which lets you exchange messages with up to 100 people simultaneously.  It offers moving message icons, pictographic mini-emoticons that can be inserted into the message, a plethora of 10,000 “deco-stamps,”  oriented towards teen girls, all for free, and users can customize the display font and display screen background to their liking.  The deco-stamps are put together into a design suited for teen girls, and popular characters from Ameba services such as “Ameba Pigg,” “Booshuka,” and “Kiiteyo! Mirucho” also make an appearance.

This service was developed by their teens subdivision, carrying out business specializing in the smartphone service for junior high and high school girls known as “Candy” [J], a decorative homepage service.  From now, they are planning development of functions that cater to the wishes of teenage girls and pro-active collaborations with various contents, and they are now designing a smartphone platform architecture for teen girls centered on “Candy.”


Translation authorized by VSMedia

Docomo’s LTE Passes 10 Million Subscribers

NTT Docomo announced [J] today February 19, 2013 that their LTE service Xi got 10 million users yesterday, February 18, 2013.

Here is a chart from their release. Docomo’s Xi began December 24, 2010.


[Update] other English news

Japan’s DoCoMo hits 10 million LTE subscribers, doubling its numbers in 6 months – The Next Web

Despite slower speeds, NTT Docomo quick to surpass 10 million LTE subscribers

SoftBank Starts Using The 900MHz “Platinum Band”

There can be no doubt that SoftBank is the mobile carrier with the weakest network among Japan’s big three telcos, following that of NTT Docomo and KDDI. But now there is hope that things will finally change for the better.

Back in March this year, the Japanese government decided to allocate the 900-megahertz band (also dubbed “platinum band”) to SoftBank. And yesterday, the company finally started using the band, with plans to set up a total of 42,000 compatible base stations all over Japan by 2019.

Users can check the areas that are serviced by visiting this website (it looks like large parts of Greater Tokyo will get covered by September this year).

SoftBank, which currently has 30 million subscribers, expects cost for the network upgrade to amount to around US$10.5 billion.

Last month, the Japanese government allocated another “platinum band” to Docomo, KDDI, and eAccess: SoftBank’s rivals plan to use the 700-megahertz band for their LTE services from 2015.


“PayPal Here”: SoftBank And PayPal Join Forces In Japan For Smartphone Payment Solution

PayPal President David Marcus, eBay CEO John Donahoe (PayPal is an eBay brand), and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son announced “PayPal Here” in Tokyo today, a payment solution for smartphones.

This is huge news for PayPal’s Japan unit, which has been operating in this country for years but hasn’t achieved the success it has seen in other countries so far (see Asiajin editor Akky Akimoto’s comment on Quora from last year for reasons why).

The plan is to establish a joint venture company, “PayPal Japan”, and introduce the “PayPal Here” service in the Japanese market (following the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia – visit TechCrunch for more information).

Each partner will hold a 50% stake in the new company and commits to invest 1 billion yen (US$12.5 million).

SoftBank explains:

The joint venture will bring together the strengths of both companies – PayPal’s global online and mobile payment solutions with 110 million active accounts in 190 markets and 25 currencies, along with the SOFTBANK Group’s local market knowledge, 29 million mobile subscribers*2 and vast distribution network including thousands of retail outlets and sales staff across Japan. By bringing together these global and local assets, the joint venture will provide the premier digital wallet for online, mobile and offline transactions to connect millions of Japanese consumers and merchants and expand the use of digital payment solutions, such as PayPal Here, in the Japanese market. (…)

PayPal and SOFTBANK expect PayPal Here to revolutionize the Japanese retail commerce market worth JPY134 trillion (USD1.7 trillion) in 2011and support the growth of 4.7 million small businesses, which account for 99% of all businesses and 70% of all employment in Japan.

What’s interesting is that the new partners aren’t losing time: the iPhone app for merchants and “PayPal Here” card reader are already available today at several “select” stores in Japan before SoftBank plans to roll out the reader “in the next several weeks” in their stores all over Japan.

The reader costs 1,200 yen, while each transaction will be taxed with 5% (there will be no fixed fees).

Movatwitter Has A New Owner: Buys Twitter Client Operator Mindscope

Tokyo-based mobile tech company today announced it acquired Mindscope, the startup behind popular Twitter client movatwitter.

movatwitter is Japanese-only, web-based and as such usable across various platforms, including smartphones, feature phones, the PC or handheld consoles like the Sony Vita or the Nintendo 3DS. Around 2009, Twitter’s official Japanese top page featured the app in its sidebar frequently (on the PC).

As a result, the service rapidly gained popularity in this country and now boasts 1.6 million users. Buyer isn’t disclosing terms of the deal, but Cnet Japan says it learned that the company paid a few million dollars for Mindscope.’s core product is the so-called jig browser, one of the first in Japan that made it possible to view PC sites on feature phones. The company later followed up with a smartphone browser and also offers mobile video solutions, an RSS reader, a Facebook client, and two Twitter clients (dubbed “jig twi” and “twePUB”). was established in 2003, while MindScope was incorporated in January 2010 (movatwitter was available before the incorporation and is said to be Japan’s first mobile-friendly Twitter client that’s web-based).

On Facebook, movatwitter mastermind Shinichi Fujikawa says he will continue to work as Chief Technology Architect while looking for new challenges as well.