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Visual Showcase Of Japanese Mobiles 45

A reader writes "Japanese StartUp Nooper.com shares their visual showcase of Japanese keitai (=mobile phones) culture with the rest of the world. Nice pictures of the newest java phones, I-mode devices, the crossing with the highest mobile density in the world, I-mode screengrabs and more. "
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Visual Showcase Of Japanese Mobiles

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  • Wapping is like surfing on a broken board when there are no waves (wind for some of us) and the tide's so low you're actually stuck on the beach.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2000 @05:43AM (#539930) Journal
    I remember reading about US companies complaning about not being able to break into the Japanese market. You can see these in things like the auto market, as well as other areas such as food or technology.

    The lack of success sometimes has to do with a product that is in appropriate to the japanes market. Imagine oversized american luxury cars in the japanese market. These do not fit well in a crowded Tokyo traffic jam.

    Sometimes it is the Japanese distribution system, which favors home grown products. Japanese rice vs American rice, for example.

    And sometimes the products are simply better. The mobile phone market is an obvious example.

    In any case, I wonder about the other side of the coin. Why do we not see more Japanese technology here?

    Well to some degree, they do dominate the entertainment electronics market. TVs, Stereos, game systems, and the like. All to often the American name is the only thing on the product.

    There is a long saga to be told about the decimation of the american market by overseas imports. The result today is that many kids growing up have never known anything else. This is a fascinating story to tell in it's own right.

    So now we have a market where there really are no home grown players in the market, and it is controlled by oversea players. The motivation is sort of a reverse economic colonialism.

    Keep all of the good stuff at home, and send the profitable stuff to the foreign markets.

    This was practiced by many big powers for a long time. Common examples include the British empire vs India, for example. The US vs Europe. etc. It is the usual practice when you have a ready easy market for your goods.

    It is a little different with the US as market, but the impulse is the same.

    Of course, in the US people have gotten so used to the idea of always having the best or newest technology toy that they feel weird when they find out it isn't always so.

  • That's freaky. There's a sculpture just like that which is part of Blue Man Group's show.. it's got all these distorted little figures and when the whole thing spins with a strobe light shining on it, it looks like a circle of 3-D dancers.

    ...More Powerful than Otto Preminger...
  • Remember, this is a society that is into tentacle sex and schoolgirl urine (which you can purchase from some vending machines -- seriously). Get your kicks from holding the phone in front of you (which part of you is up to you) to let the other person see how much your looks have changed since you talked with them an hour ago? They can keep it. It's all theirs.


  • There's a couple of things that, combined, have made i-Mode Internet access service so successful in Japan. No one of them is rocket science, but together the conditions have made it possible to have a useful and popular service:

    The phones are light and small, and have sufficient standby time
    For example, (my phone [arsdigita.com] the D209i, weighs 74 g, has a 256 color display, roughly 100x100 pixels, and operates 400 hours (standby receive time) between charging. It will sustain about 120 minutes of talk time on a charge.

    Put another way, it weighs as much as a pocket full of loose change, and needs to be recharged a couple of times a month with average use.

    Remember, the Japanese usually walk and take the train to work, so they *cannot* lug heavy junk around with them. For example, the average 7 lb US laptop that you can throw in the trunk of your car is like hauling a boat anchor around if you are standing on a crowded train for 90 minutes.

    People have time on their hands
    Most people take the train to work, so they have plenty of time on their hands where they can play with their phone. The same time spent in a car commuting is dead-time as far as Internet usage goes, because you cannot surf the net and drive at the same time.

    The phone company has made Internet access from home obscenely expensive
    NTT has, even to this day, charged per minute for dialup even for local calls. So for most users the clock is always on if they are dialed into the net from home. By comparison, cell phone rates and packet costs are quite reasonable in comparison.

    Point of reference: it costs more for me to make a phone call from my house in Tamagawa to Kawasaki (1 km) than it does for me to call Boston (using ATT @phone service from my home). NTT has literally choked the life out of Internet growth here for the last five years.

    People are used to paying money for crap that they would never pay for in the US
    CNN charges 300 yen a month to let you read CNN online on your i-mode phone. US users would laugh at the concept of paying to read CNN on a tiny screen. But in Japan, consumers are less accustomed to telling the producers what they want and what they will pay (see previous point about NTT phone rates).

    Billing is more fair
    The recipient of a phone cell phone call does not pay airtime charges.

    More web sites, easier to build them
    cHTML (compact HTML) used for i-Mode is easier to write than WAP. It's just basically a subset of HTML 2.0. So developers don't have to make a big investment in new tools or time to make a useful i-Mode site quickly from existing web technology.

    Email is still the killer app
    Most people make use of the email feature on their phone to one degree or another. Teenagers are legendary for rapid high volume communication, essentially using it for chat applications.

    Many people do not have regular internet access from work or home
    For various historic reasons (NTT high prices, keyboard problems, incompatible PCs, lack of space in small apartments, lack of access from workplace) PC's are not so common as they are in the US. Thus, using the i-Mode phone for some internet access tasks is a reasonable alternative to buying a PC. This makes a positive feedback loop to encourage more services accessible via i-Mode.

  • I wouldn't hold a cell phone close to my head anyways. Even if the Surgeon General has recently found no link to brain tumours and cell phone use, I simply prefer the earpiece/microphone now. It is easier to hear the other party and cut off the any background noise. I would imagine you can use these other phones with that.
  • Actually what is interesting is seeing just what the most erotic image you can make is that fits
    in 94x72 pixels with 256 colors.

    I haven't actually seen any keitai pornography
    yet, but I haven't bothered to look either.
  • DoCoMo is miles ahead of wap

    Um... It's called "i-mode". DoCoMo is a company, the mobile phone subsidiary of NTT (Japanese Telecom).

  • You're mostly right, but mobile phones are definitely not anymore a teenager fad in Japan, they're pretty much ubiquitous by now. My personal theory is that this is because the Japanese commute by train a lot. One of the best things you can do in a loud, crowded train is to exchange emails over the mobile phone - can be at least a bit useful and doesn't require much concentration or space.
  • I loved living in Japan because of all the fun little gadgets I could buy. Few of them are commercially successful because they never connected with a large enough market niche to make them worth exporting, but I loved being a part of the experiment.

    Love the sig, BTW. Here's another ancient Japanese proverb: o-wasuremono nai you ni gochuui kudasai... If you pronounce it in a voice that sounds like Popeye the Sailor Man breathing helium, you may reach chikatetsu satori ;-)

  • UMTS is definitely packet switched. I've worked on both European and Far East 3G service development, and *everything* we're developing is intended for a packet switched environment...

  • Hmm, maybe the reporters were confused about UMTS and GSM, but who's ever heard of that? So a UMTS device can be on-line constantly and receive individual packets, such as email or pages, without going into some sort of off-hook mode? That's neat, then I want it, and I want it now.
  • If the camera is held in front of you, then think about what your correspondent will see: a view up your hairy nostrils.


  • The more I read about DoCoMo and i-mode the more I'm getting the feeling that UMTS is barking up the wrong tree. Unless they're getting a clue and moving away from circuit switching to packet switching, I see western cell phones diverging more and more from what we really want. Which is constant on-line, data/voice on demand, real-time email etc.
  • Cameras are cool, but I don't think they'll be all that practical for mobile use. First, if the camera is detached from the voice handset, you need two appendages to operate your phone. You'll also develop gorilla arm [tuxedo.org], not to mention looking like a dork, whilst holding your wrist in front of your face during a conversation. I suppose an alternative would be some kind of head-mounted, inward-facing cam, but I can't imagine those catching on.

    And how distracting are cameras? How are people going to handle looking into a camera display while walking down the street? I predict a sharp uptick in pedestrian fatalities when this arrangement becomes popular.


  • They have a useful network infrastructure and are generations ahead of wap, which is likely the nearest competitor.

    Wap competition? You have to be kidding me. WAP's a joke, and it's even worse than the jokes I usually make.
  • ... that Japanese booth babes are just as cute as their American counterparts? :)

    Disclaimer: IANA (Asian)
    "Me Ted"
  • Where's the phone shaped like a penguin?

    The Japanese love making devices shaped like little cute animals. You can't get any cuter than a little Tux phone. I bet it would be really easy to tux in your pocket (get it? tuck? :-).

    Sigh. Some day...

  • You Linux Zealots ought to be rounded up, put on a ship, and then sunk. I bet you'd make a pretty decent addition to the coral reef.

    Sounds like a decent plot for a new horror movie: Slashdot meets Titanic 2: The Aftermatch.
  • I wouldn't feel too bad about it. Really. Most of the 3G terminals displayed, especially the ones that look the least like phones, are actually of the 'injection-mold with a slapped-on photograph' variety. It's not like they are functional at all. I've seen many of these models trotted out at trade-show overviews over and over now.

    It's not like there's a wireless network out there that can sustain video-calls. Even in Japan.

  • Using a "hand-free"-set solves problem of transmitting an ear-wax-galore-experience to the poor receiver.
  • Video phones were around a bit before you heard of them in the 80's. They were demonstrated in 1964 [att.com] and service began in 1970. Big and expensive then.
  • When I saw the headline I also thought we were going to hear about kinetic sculpture -- then as I read the article I thought of sculpture using phones [concentric.net].
  • > actually, although UMTS has capabilities for circuit switched data, still the vast majority of
    > data is supposed to be packet switched

    Really? From what I've read about UMTS the main usage model is supposed to follow GSM, that is circuit switched. That seems to be what's happening with the pilot projects in Europe. If I'm wrong, though, that would be great news.
  • Square law through empty space. It is invese N through any other dielectric.
  • I can't believe there were pictures of people using the phones on the street. I mean, who cares??? It's not like they were naked with the phones. That would be more interesting!!!

    X=X+0. Is the only truth I know...
  • Uhh, you're completely wrong.
  • How about:


    Japan protects its domestic industries to a rediculous extent. Part of this is due to the political power of large corporations in Japan. You think lobbyists in the US have power!

    Yes, in consumer electronics and automobiles, the Japanese have huge industries which pump out wonderful, wonderful products. In everything else, especially non-durables, the Japanese consumer pays a huge price for keeping a few obsolete jobs around. Have you ever tried buying fruit in Japan? Tasteless home-grown melon costs a small fortune. Rice is rediculously overpriced--yes, some consumers might prefer homegrown rice, but I bet a huge number of people would much prefer cheap rice from California.

    Wouldn't it be better to allow the Japanese consumers to make the choice for themselves? I bet more than a few would love those stylish volkswagens--if they weren't priced out of the market, that is.
  • I am Japanese and live in tokyo. This year, I bought 2 keitais.

    The newest keitai I bought is J-Phone J-SH04 [sharp.co.jp]. This keitai has lens and can email JPEG images! I also have very lightweight (only 69g) DoCoMo P502i [nttdocomo.co.jp].

  • You know, I used to LOVE my Nokia.
    In the US, I felt so cool, pulling it out when I got an email on it. People would tell me how small and high tech it was...
    When I moved to Japan, I tried to see if I could get service on it - When I took it out, the guy in the store laughed and said "Burikku desu!" (What a brick!)
    I just got a new one - a Tiny Toshiba with color screen, email, web, midi synthesizer (for composing your own multi-track, multi-instrument ring tunes,) and a digital camera that plugs in to the earphone jack.
    Plus, the sound quality is incredible, does data at 64k and lasts for days on a single charge. When I see that scene in the Matrix, with the shameless product placement of the phone, I laugh - If people only knew what they were missing...

    Jim in Tokyo
  • Well, yes...and no.
    The Japanese market is rife with protectionism, price fixing and other lousy schemes.
    But - I doubt that is why American companies don't do well here.
    The problem is that many foreign companies fail to understand the Japanese market. Those that do, prosper here: McDonalds, KFC, Denny's (!?!), Subway Sandwiches, Starbucks - They all do phenomenally well here.
    They have taken the time to understand the market, yet still retain their American um... flavor.
    Saturn (cars) made a big deal about selling their cars here a while back - yet their marketing was pathetic: Overdubbed US commercials showing things that the typical Japanese could not relate to.
    I've been here 2 years and have not yet seen a Saturn on the road.
    Harley Davidson, on the other hand - Wow. I've seen more Harleys here than I ever did in the US.
    There is no argument here about "Hog vs. Rice Burner" - Hog wins 'hoofs down'.
    As far as rice goes - there is a difference. You can't use Uncle Ben's with Japanese food. Even Korean rice, which I can't tell from Japanese, my girlfriend can.
    Sure Japan subsidizes their rice industry, but it's an attempt at self-sufficiency - which they need to do, or be at tremendous risk to outside forces, the way they were before WW2.
    It's a different life here. You just can't apply American standards at all.

    Jim in Tokyo

  • The solution, as always, lies in science fiction -- hold the whole thing in front of you, like a PDA. Sure, the whole room will be able to hear your conversation, and the microphone will have to be super high quality, but sci-fi can't be wrong!
  • i don't understand... did darwin predict that inferior, yet better MARKETED species would suceed over superior ones?
  • Hey wait a minute, cant you buy a part for your handspring that essentially does this now, and you dont have to wait 5 years until the fed decides that this technology is okay for use in the US?
  • The really cool looking ones were the phones with the cameras - two-way video conversations? Wild. I want one now.

  • me want very very much thank you.

    Why do we have to wait for the nifty D-luX gadgets?
  • Well, if it's screenshots of I-mode phones you're interested in, how about a look at mine? Here [linuxninja.com], and here [linuxninja.com].
  • It seems like this [nooper.co.jp] is the only one of all these phones [nooper.co.jp] that makes any sense.

    I mean - check it out - everything on that page has a camera and a little screen on it. If those are for video then - what the hell is the point of using a video phone if all you ever see is the side of someone's head, and only if you're not even listening to the conversation?

  • There was a large explosion of different life forms in evolutionary history. Most of them died out--quickly. The most fit is not always the best (I still tape low-definition non-digital TV programs with VHS tape). Still, enterprising concepts and experiments give a variety that would be really welcome in North America. I hope the best turns out the strongest.

  • Who needs a video phone, anyway? I certainly don't. And few other people, it seems. I remember hearing about video phones back in the 80s. Then when ISDN came, video phones were to finally replace the old voice-only again. Hm. Hasn't happened yet. And I can't imagine it ever will, because we just don't need it. Phones work very well because they are simple. And that's what they should remain. Please leave me alone with video, embedded mp3 players and all that crap ... I want a working phone, that's all ...
  • All the best technology is released outside the U.S. The first DVD vcr, the Nokia 8110i phone (from The Matrix), now these. I'm not sure how much fun it is to be American anymore =)
  • ...has lots of kewl wireless gadgets like this. We've had colour web for awhile now (WAP is just passe). The two big things out now include small digital cameras (send pics of yourself to your friends), and the ability to listen to MP3's.

    I betcha Embedded Linux plays a major part in these devices too.
  • The really cool looking ones were the phones with the cameras - two-way video conversations? Wild. I want one now.

    Phone sex will never be the same again... now why hasn't /that/ rather obvious idea made it into more sci-fi?

  • That's the cool thing about Japanese tech-design, they get all of their ideas from Anime.

    but...mobiles are still kinda annoying, so I hope these guys [phonebashing.com] start becoming international. :)

  • not if you keep them away from your ear - which is possible with these japanese babes. Remember that the amount of radiation decreases with a power of 3 to the distance.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.