Mobage Pre-installed On KDDI’s Android “REGZA Phone IS11T”

DeNA [J] has announced that they will offer pre-install smart phone version “Mobage” applications for Fujutsu Corporation’s Android equipped KDDI smartphone “REGZA Phone IS11T,” which is released for sale on September 9th, which is today.

The REGZA Phone IS11T, on which these smart phone version Mobage will be pre-installed, has slide keyboard and touch panel, which when used together will ensure operability. In addition, because off the high efficiency 1.4 GHz chip set, it’s an Android cell phone which supports comfortable character entry. It is loaded with Mobile Relaxation 4.0 for video screen, and you can enjoy high quality video.

I think that because “Mobage” applications will be pre-installed by DeNA on this device, “Mobage” can be easily accessed and a wider class of users will enjoy this service.

Translation licensed by VSMedia

Mobile Subscribers In Japan: The Latest Numbers

The Telecommunications Carriers Association (TCA) of Japan has released a set of statistics on Japan’s mobile market today, showing that the country had 122.44 million cell phone subscribers last month (out of a total population of 128 million). According to the organization, Japan’s carriers added 569,200 new customers between July and August.

Breaking down the number to individual carriers, the TCA said that:

  • Softbank Mobile gained 239,000 new subscribers on a net basis in August, bringing the total to 26.62 million
  • NTT Docomo came in second with 182,100 subscribers gained (total: 58.79 million)
  • Emobile gained 75,000 new customers (total: 3.42 million)
  • KDDI au attracted 73,000 subscribers (total: 33.53 million)
  • Willcom gained 55,100 subscribers (total: 4.1 million)

According to Wikipedia (which uses slightly outdated numbers for some countries), these statistics make Japan the seventh largest mobile market in the world.


Microsoft Dives Into Japan’s Booming Smartphone Market With World’s First Mango Smartphone And Other Key Partnerships

In a joint press conference held this morning, Microsoft, Fujitsu-Toshiba and KDDI unveiled [J] the Fujitsu-Toshiba IS12T smartphone, the world’s very first Windows Phone Mango handset hitting Japan this September only on the KDDI AU mobile network. The phone features a 3.7″ LED display, 1 Ghz Qualcomm MSM8655 CPU,  32GB internal memory, 13.2 Megapixel Camera and is both water and dust proof. While not necessarily revolutionary by hardware standards, the Fujitsu-Toshiba IS12T is the very first smartphone in the world to feature Microsofts latest Windows Phone 7.5 Update (codenamed Mango). Samsung, Acer, and other major smartphone manufacturers also intend to release Mango smartphones late this year / early next year.

As competition and sales heat up between the iPhone and Android market and total smartphone sales skyrocketing  Microsoft is no doubt eager to enter this previously isolated and domestic mobile market. Within the past two years we have see the smartphone transform from an eccentricity of the feature phone dominated mobile market into the top-selling mobile phone category with more than 10 million iPhones and Android handsets in the market.

This exclusivity contract should further benifit KDDI who has been late to joining the smartphone boom, first with Softbank essentially becoming an Apple retail chain with the iPhone (and iPad), and Docomo making a delayed but powerful push with the Samsung Galaxy and the currently ongoing advertising for the Samsung Galaxy II. While there is by no means anything to directly indicate that the Windows Phone could be successful, it will certainly help differentiate the KDDI brand which is still perceived as the cheapest of the three major mobile networks.

This announcement of Microsofts big push with Fujitsu-Hitachi also comes just weeks after Nokia announced they would completely withdraw from Japan. After years of fighting an uphill battle against the feature phone market, Nokia had diminished their offerings to the Vertu series, a luxury mobile phone aimed at high-end consumers. If the Windows phone catches fire the way Android has in Japan, Nokia may have a means and opportunity to give it, yet again, another go.

To help lower the conversion costs for Japanese consumers seeking to move to the Windows Phone, Microsoft has also announced [J] a partnership with Gree to pre-install their social gaming platform into phone. Partnering with these key services will reduce barriers to entry for Japanese who might potentially be interested in the platform. As the new Mango platform offers Internet Explorer 9 with HTML5 compatibility, there should not be any issue running Gree games with their new Flash to HTML5 converter tool provided to developers.

KDDI Buys 5% Stake In GPS Game Provider Colopl For US$6.2 Million

Launched in Japan as early as 2005, “Colopl”, a simulation in which cell phone users manage a virtual colony, is probably one of the earliest geo-aware games out there. The namesake company made “Coloni-na Seikatsu Plus” (Colony-like Life) available to subscribers of NTT Docomo, SoftBank Mobile, and KDDI au.

In the game, players collect a virtual currency dubbed “pura” when traveling from one point in Japan to another. They can then use this money and virtual items collected in those places to create a “colony” on their cell phone (more information in English on how the game works here and here).

The concept took off, Colopl inked a few deals with partner companies, and in November last year (when Colopl had 1.5 million users), KDDI entered a partnership with the company.

And today the Nikkei is reporting that Japan’s 2nd largest carrier is ready to buy a 5% stake in Colopl that’s worth 500 million Yen ($6.2 million). In other words, the company is now valued at $125 million – a very high sum, as far as the Japanese market is concerned. By way of comparison: last year, Foursquare’s valuation at the last round of financing stood at $95 million pre-money.

KDDI is Foursquare’s partner in Japan since February. The carrier also invested in Tokyo-based mobile app startup Tonchidot, struck a tie-up with social games maker Rekoo (both last year), and invested in mobile social gaming juggernaut GREE in 2007.

KDDI Develops A Sysytem To Convert Video/Photos Into Comic-Style Album

KDDI R&D Labs announced today that they developed a new system which can generate naturally arranged photo album in comic-style sequence of frames from video and photos.

Here is an example of the generated album from an wedding photos.

According to the release [J, pdf], it is humdrum to line up the same shaped photos.

It looks better if you put photos into the pre-defined variable frames, but only doing so may place a vertically long photo into a landscape box, may make a main person put out of the frame.

This technology will recognize portrait/landscape and persons, automatically curve them out and fit them in balanced frames.

They are planning to popularize the technology into a service to create comic-style photo album as a visible label of home-made videos and recorded TV programs.

via Nikkei ITPro [J]

KDDI Agrees To Assist Foursquare’s Promotion And Support In Japan

KDDI, Japan’s second largest cellphone carrier, announced [J] their new agreement with New York based location based service Foursquare, to collaborate on promotion and customer support of their business in Japan.

There are no announcement from Foursquare yet. On KDDI’s release, Foursquare’s Interim CEO Dennis Crowley told, “As seen on Tokyo is the second most checked-in city around the world, Foursquare is getting popular in Japan. In such market, we are hoping to gain more recognition on our service by co-working with KDDI to provide easier access opportunities to customers, starting with providing shortcut to the application. By these, Japanese customers will get new experiences and share this service with their friends”.

As in Crowley’s comment, KDDI will ship their new Android handsets IS04 and coming IS05 with shortcut to Foursquare app.

KDDI announced an alliance with Skype in October 2010. (Skype Japan release[J], KDDI release [J])

Groupon Japan To Land KDDI Cellphone Official Portal

Groupon Japan, a subsidiary of the international leading flash coupon service Groupon, announced their new alliance with Japan’s No.2 cellphone carrier KDDI on 14th.

According to the KDDI’s release [J], KDDI will open “au one coupon”, coupon-only portal site under its official cellphone portal site “au one”, which is available on all KDDI au feature phone internet access service EZweb on December 20th.

Groupon Japan will launch a mobile site “Groupon Mobile” as an EZweb mobile site on 14th. Two sites will work collaboratively.

KDDI au is also planning to pre-set “Groupon for Android” on their coming Android phone. KDDI users will be able to pay to Groupon seamlessly with their cellphone bill, both on feature phone and their Androids.