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Mobile phone meets Nintendo DS January 24, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Communications, IT, Japan, Mobile.

As part of the NTT DoCoMo Spring 2007 line-up (sounds like the fashion industry… and in a way, it is), Mitsubishi Electric announced the D800iDS, a two screen clamshell, the lower screen being a touch panel.

Apparently DS stands for “Direct & Smooth”. Conveniently it sounds exactly like this. (DS apparently stands for “dual screen” in Nintendo parlance)

Anyway, the D800iDS is out in February. It is pretty light on features, no integrated FeliCa for credit/debit/e-cash in your mobile phone (must admit I’ve never gotten round to using that feature yet), only a 1.3M pixel camera, no push-to-talk, no GPS, no global roaming, no music player, etc.

The touch screen does offer some potential benefits. The 2.2-inch touchscreen allows handwriting entry as well as traditional text entry via the (now virtual) keypad, and another entry method which takes advantage of a virtual keyboard to allow every Japanese hiragana character to be entered using 2 taps. (Yes, some phones do still offer an option of 2 tap entry on a normal physical keyboard, but most of us have probably forgotten the vaguely cryptic codes we used to type at ease when pagers were all the rage. )

[Historical note – pagers were really big in Japan in the pre-mobile phone era, and virtually all of my high school and university friends had one. Looking back, it is interesting to note that the mobile phone market lagged the European (or at least the UK) market in those early days. I had a cellphone in London before most of my Tokyo based friends got around to getting a mobile phone. Just look how the tables have turned (for the most part) now. I know the US press just loves to point to Europe when it wants to remind readers that it lags in mobile and broadband services, but if they did their homework they’d find East Asia is where it’s at. I guess language is a barrier….]

Anyway, this is where it gets interesting. (Yes, long preamble, blah blah blah, if you’re reading this you already know how tediously verbose I am in writing – compare and contrast to the shy retiring wallflower that I am in person)

Mitsubishi have announced a contest for iAppli (DoCoMo’s J2ME “application sandbox” thingy – ok sandbox maybe rather harsh) developers, to develop something interesting using D800iDS’s dual screen/touchscreen interface.

This certainly seems much more inclusive than the policy taken by Apple recently.

(OK, you give Mitsubishi and DoCoMo distribution rights of the submitted project as well as the right to use it in promotions, but you retain all other intellectual property rights which sounds pretty fair)

Applications close on Feb 7th, by which proposals need to be submitted using this form. People who qualify will be notified on Feb 9th, and will have until March 12th to complete development. You need to have a DoCoMo FOMA account so you can install your SIM card in the DS to test your DS iAppli with. (They’ll give you (to keep) a D800iDS if you get past the first paper exam hurdle.

Prizes on offer: 37V LCD TV for 1st prize (not full HD though, as Mitsubishi haven’t got any in the lineup which must be hurting sales and margins), 3 runners-up prizes are HDD/DVD DVRs, and some DoCoMo credits for worthy mentions.


1. アメリカでのスマートフォン主要機種リスト » Mobile Venture News » Tracking Emmerging U.S. Mobile Technologies and Companies for the Japanese Investment Community. - February 1, 2007

[…] iPhoneの特徴として話題になってから、「携帯電話のタッチパネル」にも興味を引かれるようになりました。アメリカでは私のまわりでは見かけませんが、日本ではどうなんでしょうか?日本では、携帯電話端末の「春モデル」が発表されているようですね。このサイトで紹介されていたドコモの「D800iDS」は、タッチパネル、2画面の端末。それに、こちらのリンクで気づいたソフトバンクの春モデル発表の写真。アメリカでも、ソフトバンクのビジネス戦略に関する記事とあわせ、孫正義さんがモデルさんたちに囲まれた写真がWSJに取り上げられました。 […]

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