Japan

I had the opportunity to attend Tokyo Mobile Monday this past Monday. It was a chance to meet some great people (Lars who’s a tremendous resource on mobile Japan, Natsuko Kimura of KDDI, and many others including several experts in Asian mobile LBS).

It was held at the KDDI Designing Studio, which was launched as KDDI’s showroom a year and a half ago in the young and trendy Harajuku area. The building is 5 floors in an elegant round structure packed with phones and demonstrations, a stage and meeting area, and a cafe at the top.

Lots of stuff on display…RFID in a phone that provides an alert for a music video when you walk by a movie poster, popular services are tv, comic books (good for subway, have sounds and vibrations), music (get music over the air, over web, from CDs), SUICA, Felica. Most KDDI phones have GPS, and navigation is very popular for both pedestrians and cars (Navitime), 3D pedestrian navigation is available for some geographic areas, and they have a security service with SECOM for tracking kids, the elderly, and personal safety.

The Japanese LBS market is not as advanced as Korea. In Japan, KDDI is by far in the lead. DoCoMo has still to get out of the gates, but since there’s an e911 mandate for April of 2007, there should be a lot of activity next year.

Other mobile observations…

QR codes are everywhere in Japan, on posters, in magazines, on buses and the subway. The leading advertising agency in Japan pushed it out and ensured that all operators and handsets support the same format. Just snap a picture of the QR code, it’s processed on the phone, and click the URL to view the mobile web site.

SUICA is a widely available payment system that comes as an RFID card or within phones, it can be used for trains, many vending machines, and some stores.

It seems everyone looks up subway/train schedules on their phone. Since trains run to the minute, you can coordinate your entire route by typing in the starting and ending train stations.

More on Japan later.

Now getting ready for Foo Camp tomorrow. Should be fun though it probably won’t speed the recovery from jet lag.

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