Light Reading

Land of the Rising Smartphone

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading

Extending its strategy for world smartphone domination to the world's most highly developed smartphone market, BlackBerry today said it will release a Japanese-language version of its popular BlackBerry device in early 2007.

The kanji-based device will follow RIM's English-language BlackBerry, which goes on sale tomorrow from Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM)

"We're working to have a solution for entering Japanese fonts in the first two quarters of next year," said RIM president and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis at a press conference in Tokyo this morning.

RIM has made no secret in the last year of its plans to establish beachheads in the major markets of East Asia. Last May the Waterloo, Ontario-based mobile email giant inked a deal with China Mobile Communications Corp. to bring BlackBerry email service to the mainland, using SIM (subscriber identity module) cards that attach to China Mobile's existing cell phones.

The move into Japan, says Carmi Levy, senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group , is inevitable as competition in RIM's core market -- North American enterprises -- continues to heat up, and as big cell phone makers Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) develop smartphones for the global market. (See RIM Dominance Slips, Slightly.)

"The faster RIM can set up shop and gain some initial momentum in Far East markets," says Levy, "the more able it will be to carve out market share in advance of the larger and deeper-pocketed handset manufacturers."

Gartner Japan analyst Kanae Maita predicted earlier this year that Japan's smartphone market would expand by nearly 50 percent to 370,000 units by the end of 2006.

That doesn't mean that RIM's success in Japan -- easily the most sophisticated mobile device market in the world -- is assured. Many Japanese smartphones already have push email capability and other features offered by the BlackBerry, and RIM has only recently added the ability to run over high-speed 3G networks like NTT Docomo's W-CDMA system. (See Device Trends Cross Pacific.)

In June, after RIM said it would begin selling the BlackBerry in Japan, a poster on mobile-device-geek Website Engadget compared the move to "a minivan competing in a sports car race."

Earlier attempts by Western wireless operators to penetrate the Japanese market have faltered: In March, Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) unloaded its wireless network in Japan for $15.5 billion to SoftBank Corp. .

In fact, the initial demand for BlackBerry in Japan is expected to come not from Japanese firms but from expatriates: "It's hard to judge how much demand will come from Japanese natives since few have any experience with the BlackBerry," points out Todd Kort, principal analyst at Gartner Inc. But, he adds, "the move into Japan makes good sense because there are so many multinational companies doing business there who wish to use the BlackBerry."

NTT Docomo said it has taken 1400 pre-orders for the Japanese BlackBerry -- most of them from foreign multinationals. Expat workers, however, would constitute a niche market at best: There are probably a total of around 30,000 English-language expatriates currently working in Japan.

RIM can take heart from the success of Japanese carrier Willcom, which has sold more than 150,000 of its W-Zero3 smartphone, which features mobile email via Microsoft Exchange.

Like pop music, however, mobile device usage is highly dependent on local tastes, habits, and fads. And RIM's bread and butter -- mobile email for busy executives -- will likely not be enough in Japan to provide the chart-topping success it has enjoyed in North America.

"The relative sophistication of the Japanese market in general will likely mean users there will demand more sophisticated services," adds Levy. "Basic voice and data packages won’t fly in Japan."

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Wagner’s Ring
The Business Case for Open Source

11|30|15   |     |   (1) comment

Open source helps companies enhance infrastructure, undermine competitors' advantage and teach collaboration. But there are problems.
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (10) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Hong Kong Moments
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/26/2015
Facebook in Africa: Beauty or Beast?
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/27/2015
Cable Gives Thanks for Business Services
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 11/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.