Some More Japanese Telecom Observations

And now as a little follow up some somewhat more general telecom observations from my recent short visit in Tokyo.

Mobile Phone Use: According to this reference, Softbank launched the iPhone in Japan back in 2008. And indeed, every now and then I saw someone with an iPhone. To me it semt to be far fewer people though than in other countries. Most people seem to prefer the brick style and long format clamshell phones that immediately give away someone as a Japanese tourist abroad. Other than iPhones I didn't see many touch based phones, it didn't seem to be in fashion (yet?).

3G Notebook Use: 3G USB keys are not yet marketed as agressively as in some European countries where you can buy them for a couple of euros with a prepaid SIM inside and daily, weekly or monthly packages available. But even though they seem to be quite popular here as well. While sitting in a Starbucks (yes, no Sushi…), I saw many people coming and going with notebooks and a 3G dongle of some sort for Internet connectivity. No free or paid Wi-Fi at the Starbucks…

WiMAX: And, quite surprisingly, South Korea doesn't seem to be the only place where WiMAX has been deployed on a larger scale in an industrialized country. There's seems to be a WiMAX network in Japan, too and I saw some pretty heavy marketing for WiMAX to Wi-Fi boxes and notebooks with builtin WiMAX connectivity in electronic stores.

3 thoughts on “Some More Japanese Telecom Observations”

  1. Yes… I was also surprised to see how much “brick style & clamshell” devices were popular. It is also very obvious from the docomo home page.

    Japan is definitely not an iPhone country, and doesn’t seem to be that keen on large screen smartphone.

    So… what’s the reason behind ?
    Tarif plan ? Culture ? User interface and application localization ?

  2. Japan is not a smart-phone country, full-stop. Rather than using the Internet at large, most browse provider-specific portals like iMode. It reminds me very much of the old PC days with Yahoo and MSN. During the many years I lived there I was always surprised at the number of people who didn’t even have a regular email account and the only method of contact was an MMS address for their mobile terminal.

    Nice observations on the dongles though. I’m glad to see they are taking off finally. For years the sales man frequented the cafes with PHS dongles because the 3G providers would not provide data cards. When eMobile entered the market and focused on data cards and dongles, they really shook things up.

    I’m just waiting for Samsung handsets to be introduced in Japan. Things will be really interesting then!

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