KDDI Releases Pilgrimage Application for Android

’s [J] consumer Shikoku branch has released Itsu Demo O Henro [J] (Anytime Pilgrim), an Android application which allows you to experience pilgrimage in everyday life using smartphone’s GPS function.  Download is free.

“Anytime Pilgrim” is a public app in which prioritizes au Smartpass, and depending on the distance walked in everyday life, you can have a simulated experience of a pilgrimage.  It models your distance walked to the pilgrimage route, and you can get a taste of feeling like you’re actually traveling in Shikoku when you do stuff like pushing the stamp upon arriving at “Fudashoo” (temples frequented by pilgrims) or when the guide for famous products and places in Shikoku is displayed.  Furthermore, in addition to being able to enjoy collecting all the stamps which allow you to get all 20 pilgrim avatars, it also includes social functions like “Jun Tomo” (pilgrim buddies) which lets you interchange with other users, and linkage with Facebook and Twitter.

Translation authorized by VSmedia

Three Of Japan’s Top Telcos Standardize Display Of Email Emoticons

Three of Japan’s four biggest mobile carriers, namely NTT Docomo, KDDI au, and eAccess, are about to make it easier for their combined subscriber base of roughly 90 million people to exchange emails with other.

The plan is to standardize the display of emoticons, or emoji in Japanese, across handsets offered by the three networks.

As of now, certain emoji aren’t correctly displayed when sent from the cell phone of a Docomo user to that of a KDDI user, for example. I am not a big emoji fan, but The Nikkei says that if a Docomo subscriber sends an emoji showing i.e. Taurus the Bull to somebody using a KDDI phone, a cow is displayed.

What may sound trivial is actually quite a big deal in Japan, where emoji have been in use since 1999 and emails have been the most popular way to communicate between mobile phone users since.

It’s especially young people who use emoji excessively. Around 2008, the lack of emoji support was blamed as one of the factors leading to the (initially) sluggish sales of the iPhone in Japan. In the same year, it was Google Japan’s local team that made it possible for Gmail users worldwide to use emoji in their messages.

KDDI an eAccess are also in the process of creating around 200 new emoji that fit NTT Docomo’s most popular ones. The standardization will kick off with new handsets released this summer.

SoftBank Mobile, Japan’s No. 3 carrier, isn’t part of the agreement: the company says it simply doesn’t display problematic emoji sent from handsets offered by other carriers on its handsets.

KDDI Releases New AR Brand SATCH, Comes With SDK For Free

KDDI released new AR brand SATCH yesterday, in order to expand AR (Augmented Reality) Market.

SATCH is a new brand to expand AR market with KDDI’s new AR technology.

SATCH sounds ‘sacchi’ in Japanese, which means ‘detect’, or cover cell phone quickly over the item and check it out.

KDDI also made a partnership with Total Immersion in September and expected to put extra investment.

Along with this press release, KDDI provides free SDK for developer based on D’fusion technology from Total Immersion on 15th of December.

via Keitai Watch [J]

Hard Times May Come For Softbank After KDDI Gets iPhone5

Some days ago we reported KDDI may distribute the next iteration of the iPhone. Now the reactions are coming: Goldman Sachs predicts hard times may come for Softbank [J], Softbank falls a 5% at Tokyo Stocks Exchange.

Softbank, with a 21% share of the market, is the third leading mobile service provider in Japan, trailing NTT DoCoMo (48%) and KDDI (27%). Although the company won a major advantage by being the country’s exclusive iPhone distributor, its relatively poor coverage area and services have come into question lately, leading many to state that if another carrier stepped up to ship the iPhone, they would switch without hesitation.

KDDI, under its new CEO Takashi Tanaka, has recovered some of its lost fighting spirit. They introduced Skype preinstalled in all their phones; and in August they were the first to introduce Windows Phone in Japan. Now, with the iPhone 5, probably a lot of the young people who moved to Softbank will come back to their old provider.

Meanwhile, Masayoshi Son (Softbank CEO) announced in the next 2 years they are planning to invest 2,000 billion yen in order to improve their infrastructures. DoCoMo is pushing hard with their new technology LTE (also known as “Super 3G” or “3.9G”) under the Xi brand, which allows smartphone users to enjoy a a bigger volume of data and more speed. For the time being it’s only available at the center of Tokyo, Nagano and Osaka. Probably the social games devices (Sony Xperia PLAY, PS Vita and others) will help to the development of this new system.

Sources: Mainichi Shimbun [J], NTT DoCoMo

KDDI’s “Android au” Site Terminated, Not Telling Why But Likely By iPhone 5

KDDI’s Android handset promotion site “Android au” has been shut down today. The site shows a very short message “Android au site has finished.” in plain HTML, then visitors are redirected to KDDI au’s top page after 5 seconds.

The special page has been promoting KDDI’s Android handset with a popular boys group Arashi, with commercial films saying “Isn’t it non-sense to have a smartphone which is (often) out of service?” and “You may enjoy Flash site with Android”, which obviously pointed Softbank/iPhone. (Softbank has quite bad reputation on its connectivity in compare to the others.)

(official videos are removed, these fan re-posting video might be dismissed soon.)

KDDI announced their new model cellphones on 26th, and keeps “no comments” on their iPhone 5.

Their pushing Android was too much and some consumers even thought that Android is KDDI’s smartphone brand (Docomo smartphone users rather think they have “smartphone”). This is a big strategic anabasis.

[Update 2011-09-27] KDDI changed the plain message with a bit better image,

and now it is redirected to their new promotion site, where they remove “Android au” logo and old movies. The new site shows the new phrase “Mirai ha Eraberu”(You can select future). Interestingly, this catch seems to match their 1 year old former catch “Mirai he Ikunara Android wo Mate”(Wait Android if you go future).

KDDI au already introduced Windows Phone 7.5 (IS12T) and if iPhone 5 is coming, they needed to disband their Android-centric promotion caravan. But could not they switch the site at the same time without making all KDDI Android users worried?