Posts Tagged ‘kddi’

Chapter 2 of e-readers in Japan

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Papyless offers e-book content for cell phones, PCs and Sony's new e-reader

Next year may finally see the e-book make the jump from cell-phone screen to rather more generous-sized e-reader displays. E-readers failed to catch on early in Japan, due to poor sales and limited available content, however, December sees KDDI, Sony and Sharp go head to head with all companies offering new gadgets to entice Japan’s digital book worms away from their cell phones.

On Dec. 10  Sony’s new black-and-white touch screen e-readers – the PRS-650 Touch Edition and PRS-350 Pocket Edition – went on sale. According to Good Reader, the company is already hailing the launch a success and claim that stocks of the Touch Edition are already running low. Sony is also saying that, contrary to its expectations, the device is selling well in bookstores it’ll be hard to guage just how popular the device has been until actual sales figures have been released.

Sharp, which launched its Galapagos tablet this month, will be appealing to a wider market than just book readers. The tablets, which come in two models — the 10.8-inch for home use and a 5.5-inch mobile model — are both multi-media devices with LCD color screens. Running on the Android OS system, Sharp has teamed up with DVD rental giant Tsutaya to provide content for the tablets at the online Tsutaya Galapagos store, which currently sells books but will be offering movies and music in the spring.

In terms of content, both devices are not only compatible with their own dedicated websites but also with other content providers. In Sony’s case e-books can be downloaded both from Sony’s own Reader Store and from Papyless, which offers 15,000 works available to download on cell phones or PC in XDMF format. Content for Galapagos can be downloaded from the Tsutaya site and Renta!, a sister site of Papyless that works with iPhones and gadgets running on the Android OS. Both devices will, in short, benefit from e-bookstores that have been successful in providing content to the already healthy cell phone e-book market.

KDDI’s biblio Leaf SP02 reader, which also launched this month, has a black-and-white screen and has the rather groovy advantage of being able to run on solar power. KDDI’s content store, the LISMO Book Store, currently offers 20,000 books with plans to expand this list to 100,000 by March 2012.

While techies and movie lovers may be drawn to tablets like the Galapagos, we’re thinking true book lovers, or simply people wary of incurring eye strain, will favor the Sony Reader or KDDI’s new device. The proof will not only be in the attractiveness of the devices themselves, but also in the amount of content each device offers. In that sense half the battle will decided by which company is able to offer the widest and most popular range of titles to readers.

Online shopping sites for women on the go

Friday, June 4th, 2010

KDDI join the rapidly growing cell phone store business

KDDI join the rapidly growing cell-phone store business

Recent years have seen a big boom in cell-phone shopping sites that cater to time-poor women by allowing them to purchase fashionable items while on the go. If you’re a woman with a full-time job in Japan, chances are, you don’t have much time to go shopping and once you get home, you’re often too tired to browse the web, so shopping with your cell phone really makes sense.

Just last month KDDI partnered up with Okinawa Cellular to launch a new site called AU One La Select aimed at women in their 30s and 40s. The site sells kitchen items, cosmetics, bags and cooking utensils, among other things. Customers can buy items either from their cell phones or via their PCs and payment methods are flexible: you can pay either with credit card, cash on delivery or at a convenience store.

AU One La Select joins a growing number of online sites that have sister cell-phone sites. One of  the most popular is fashionwalker.com,which offers a massive range of fashionable items albeit aimed at users younger than Select. Other popular sites include Select Square and Siamese, the latter of which offers an interesting range of imported brands such as TopShop and Primark. Zozoresort is a fun store that sells upscale brands such as Beams and is probably a hit with fashion-hungry girls who live outside the metropolis.

My personal favorite is the shopping site of free magazine Eruca. Commuters pick up the magazine in the morning and can browse the fashions during the day then perhaps buy themselves a little treat after they get home. Eruca has a street-style section and contains discount coupons for bargain hunters.

They aren’t the only magazine with an online store. Elle has an online store with a mobile sister site and earlier this year we mentioned Mobile Closet, which is a cell-phone only magazine that offers popular teen fashions.

As yet, Softbank and DoCoMo do not have any shopping sites of their own but no doubt if AU One La Select does well, executives at these companies might also decide to jump aboard the cell-phone shopping bandwagon.

Japanese Twitter marketing campaigns make some noise

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Twitter’s little blue bird has landed in Japan and looks like it might stick around to build a nest: The microblogging site had almost 10 million views in April from Japan. Ninety-five percent of people polled in a recent survey said they knew about Twitter. Granted, goo Research and japan.internet.com surveyed 1,077 people who were already online, so we’d expect higher recognition than if they polled people on the street. But still, a huge increase from 12% in a similar survey taken at the same time last year. The tweet designated as the 15 billionth this past weekend was in Japanese. For the final nudge, Twitter will come pre-installed on 13 of SoftBank’s new phones this summer, and a free Twitter app for NTT DoCoMo’s keitai has just been announced.

From a marketer’s point of view, that’s a lot of potential consumers. How to grab their attention and keep it? The first wave of Japanese corporate Twitter accounts to play with the medium mostly chatted a bit aimlessly and offered Twitter-only discounts. Many of the accounts replied automatically to messages about the company’s product or shop that were posted in the common format “I’m at FamilyMart/eating udon/drinking coffee now.”

Continue reading about creative Twitter campaigns in Japan →

Summer cell phones: which will make the biggest splash?

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Will KDDI's IS01 Android smartphone be able to outperform the iPhone this summer?

Will KDDI’s IS01 Android smartphone be able to outperform the iPhone this summer?

SoftBank, DoCoMo and KDDI are all hoping that their new lineup of cell phone models are going to make a big splash on the market when they’re released this summer. On one count at least, that will be true for almost all models, as waterproof was the dominant feature in this season’s phones.

But being able to cut it poolside wasn’t the biggest issue. What had keitai-watchers buzzing was whether DoCoMo and KDDI would to outshine SoftBank in the smartphone arena. SoftBank currently sell the iPhone, which has quickly become the nation’s favorite smartphone. Given the exclusivity of Softbank’s agreement with Apple, Docomo and KDDI naturally had to come up with rival devices to knock the sheen of Apple’s best selling gadget. To that end, last week both carriers announced new phones that will run on the Android OS. Among them were more interface options. For example, KDDI’s  IS01 smartphone offers both a qwerty keyboard and a touch display; same goes for Docomo’s Sharp LYNX SH-10B.

But SoftBank still seems to continue to be one step ahead, in terms of innovation. Many of the new cell phones in the SoftBank stable are Twitter-friendly, straight out of the box, thanks to either an app or widget. After the U.S., Japan has the highest number of Tweet traffic in the world, with the Japanese making up 15 percent of the globe’s Tweets, so it’s easy to see how this function might be popular.

SoftBank also showed itself to be ahead of the curve by introducing a pet monitoring device called Mimamori which can be controlled by the user’s cell phone. This very groovy looking digital camera is equipped with a motion sensor that allows it to track a pet’s movements while in the home and relay shots of that pet to the user’s mobile. The camera can also be remotely controlled in real time by users who want to check up on their pets while they are out of the house.

While Softbank pulled ahead with novelties such as these, DoCoMo really came up trumps in the style stakes by offering brand-designed phones for their Style Series, including models designed by popular brands Francfranc and Marimekko. Expect to see these stylish numbers dangling from the handbags of Shibuya and Ginza this summer.

As we already mentioned, the majority of phones were waterproofed this season. Will solar charging be the next big thing in the fall collections?  If so, both KDDI and SoftBank are already out of the gate. SoftBank’s Solar Hybrid 936SH developed by Sharp offers two hours of standby display or one minute call time for a 10-minute charge. KDDI also offers a Sharp model with their Solar Phone SH007 and also claims that a 10-minute solar charge is enough for a one-minute phone call.

As temperatures soar and these new phones hit the streets, the battle to knock the iPhone off its top spot is set to intensify.

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