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Mobile carriers’ new services May 29, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Japan, Mobile, technology.
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May/June is the launch season for the summer models from the mobile carries. (See previous posts: 1, 2, 3)

With new handsets come new services.

A few services that have caught my attention: 

KDDI's LISMO music download service is being heavily advertised, and new handsets which work with the services are being launched. Exposure on the radio, in the printed press, and on the web. 

On the music front, details of NTT DoCoMo's plans for the music to mobile market are taking shape. Initially reported earlier in May, it appears DoCoMo will be launching a fixed fee download service with Napster. I suspect this will be a venture with Napster and Tower Records KK's Japanese JV, Napster Japan. Subscription fees have not been announced, but the service is expected to start in the summer. It is expected that a pay per download service squarely aimed at LISMO is also in the works.

Staying with DoCoMo, DCMX, DoCoMo's integrated credit card service is seeing a big push.

With phones now having Suica (e-wallet, also can function as corporate security card (with requisite hardware) and as passes for JR (and from next year, private railways and subways) and DCMX, as well as lots of potentially sensitive personal information in address books and emails, security is a big issue. Virtually all of the new phones feature biometric security.

Additionally, there are remote locking features (call the DoCoMo call center to engage, or set up the phone correctly and call your phone) which prevent not just unauthorised calls but block access to any data on the phone. Service starts 5/30.
Another announced feature which also starts on 5/30 are network based address book backup. Handy for those who are prone to losing their phone or dropping the phone into the toilet. Both apparently more common than I thought based on a straw poll I took recently. The network backup capability is implemented using SyncML, and it is expected that more SyncML based services will be forthcoming. 

There is also a service which allow you to send a text message when calling someone, the text message being displayed on the receiver's phone. It might be used to let the receiver know what the call is about, so they can decide to pick up, or not.

GPS location queries of other users (with their permission) is also now available, at the reasonable price of 200yen/month and 5yen per query. 
Vodafone: Here in Japan, bluetooth accessories have not yet taken off in the way that they have elsewhere, so you don't yet see that many people standing around apparently talking to themselves. However, bluetooth functionality is beginning to catch on, and to take advantage of this Vodafone has launched a new service which will allow bluetooth enabled Vodafone handset users to text chat with other similarly equipped users. Will this catch on? Usage of this is apparently free. 

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