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.
BCN Ranking announced the statistics of the first week sales of iPhone 4S in Japan. At this new version, the nation’s 3rd carrier Softbank Mobile‘s exclusive distribution since iPhone 3G ends, the 2nd largest carrier KDDI au enters to sell iPhone.
The ranking shows the two carriers’ iPhone 4S with three variations of memory-size, 64M/32M/16M, total 6 variations occupied the top 6.
BCN Ranking counted the carriers share only within iPhone 4S [J], Softbank took 51.7%, whilst KDDI au gained 48.3%.
BCN Ranking collected the number of sold units from shops, which it claims to cover 40% of Japanese retails. The retail shops do not include Apple Stores and carriers stores.
On March 12th, some Wi-Fi providers in Japan started offering free connection after the devastating earthquake that hit northeast Japan on Friday afternoon.
Sofbank Mobile announced that they are completely opening up their public wireless LAN service “Softbank Wi-Fi Spot” for free. The connection is available for anyone who is in the service area, not limited to current Softbank customers. Softbank Wi-Fi Spot provides 54Mbps connectivity in select public locations such as restaurants, cafes, hotels and shops. Look for the WiFi Available sticker or BB Mobile Point sticker on storefronts.
To use, select “FON” network on any wireless LAN supported devices in one of their service locations.
Livedoor Wireless is also offering free Wi-Fi on March 12th and 13th. You can check the coverage area with their map.
The SSID for the open network is “free-online-ld” (no password required).
They also provide optional login IDs (01@free@lw / 03@free@lw / 03@free@lw) and password (livedoor) in case authentication is required by the device.
FON Japan also announced their effort to offer their network for free to support those who affected by the earthquake and their friends and families.
FON_FREE_INTERNET and other FON spots are entirely free until March 13th. For updates and possible extension of the dates, follow @fonjapan Twitter account.
Softbank Mobile, exclusive iPhone seller in Japan, today announced their new IC-Card(FeliCa) products for iPhone 4: IC-Card stickers.
iPhone not having FeliCa, RFID smart card, is one of lamentations for users who can not give up their e-wallets function on their Japanese cellphone. One of the reasons that half of Japanese iPhone users still keeps their feature phones.
Android is planning to support NFC on version 2.3, which has the same foundation as FeliCa but can not cover all of FeliCa’s functionality. Japanese cellphone vendors have been adding FeliCa on their Android smartphones recently. There are also a few Japanese Androids which are capable in terms of hardware, but waiting on a software update to support major FeliCa e-money providers.
FeliCa functionality for three major e-money services WAON/Edy/nanaco used by supermarket and convenience store chains will be offered as different stickers in February 2011.
Each sticker costs 2,980 yen (US$36). The regular WAON and nanaco cards are 300 yen and Edy cards 500 yen, so it is pretty expensive but the stickers nicely fit with your iPhone 4. They are also tested well with Apple’s genuine iPhone 4 Bumper.
It seems for me that you can put those stickers not only on iPhone 4 but also on anything. The release does not tell if those IC-Card can be checked and charged via iPhone, or it is just a small sized version of the card-size IC card.
Softbank Mobile made another weird peripheral gadget, TV for iPhone 2 years ago.
Softbank Mobile Release [J, pdf]
Japanese cellphone is the birthplace of emoji – emoticon as a single letter. Now they are usable outside of Japan on Gmail and iPhone. By Google’s and others effort, October 11, 2010, they were included in the international standard, Unicode version 6.0. So now those pictogram are supposed to be used for communication among anyone using Unicode capable computers.
However, on legacy system, i.e. Japanese cellphone, three carriers adopted emoji separately, left some incompatibilities. A Japanese blogger Nakamura001 verified a case which sometimes had been rumored, musical note emoticon gets unintended conversion to a poop character.
He tested if it really happens, and if so under what situation. The one combination he found was sending single note emoji from Docomo cellphone,
will be converted to poop on Gmail on iPhone,
As you see, the second letter, three notes on Docomo, was also changed into a flower letter. The third one, a musical note in regular letter (not a new emoji) stays the same.
Some emoji before Unicode standard is not compatible among carriers, and there are gateways by Softbank Mobile and/or Gmail to take care of converting them, it looks like a mapping bug.
Japanese use musical note letter a lot in casual mail, to show cheeriness emotion. Nakamura001 wrote there could be many bad conversion happened. For example,
“I love you(poop)”
“You can do it(poop)”