Light Reading
Looking for an East Asian beachhead, RIM preps Japanese-language BlackBerry

Land of the Rising Smartphone

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
9/25/2006
50%
50%

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
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Rick Talbot, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   2:12   |   (0) comments


At the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, Rick Talbot shared his positive feedback about the holistic and open approach that Huawei adopts for SDN and NFV. He also found the open sharing at the event valuable as it features different perspectives from Huawei experts, telecom operators, industry analysts as well as security experts.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With David Snow, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   2:24   |   (0) comments


David Snow talked about his understanding of Huawei and its SoftCOM strategy at the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, saying that Huawei's wide approach combining IT and CT expertise, introducing big data and analytics into solutions and contributing to the OpenStack community particularly resonate with him and make the company stand out in the industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

10|31|14   |   3:13   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro commented on Huawei's data center capabilities and NFV solutions at the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, saying that in addition to covering all three key domains of compute, storage and networking, the company also emphasizes the importance of management capabilities and professional services, which are essential in making NFV a reality.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Michael Howard, Co-founder & Principal Analyst, Infonetics Research

10|31|14   |   5:25   |   (0) comments


Michael Howard talked about SDN, NFV, and OpenStack adoption at Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014. Particularly, he pointed out that Virtual Enterprise CPE is the top NFV use case that operators plan to invest in over 2014 and 2015 to deliver new enterprise services through virtualized functions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Jerry Caron, Senior Vice President, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   3:11   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, Jerry Caron from Current Analysis said that orchestration and management are key to realizing SDN and NFV for global carriers, and the approach that Huawei is taking, with its FusionSphere Cloud OS at the core, is in the right direction to address the challenges.
LRTV Documentaries
Broadband Battles

10|31|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


This year's Broadband World Forum featured a number of show floor battles focused on access gear, components and coffee.
Jonestown
Mobile Backhaul: Going to the Dark Side?

10|30|14   |   2:26   |   (1) comment


Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan shares his view on a dark trend that bubbled up at Light Reading's annual backhaul conference in NYC.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With CEO of SwitchCom

10|30|14   |   4:13   |   (0) comments


SwitchCom, an IT company based in Angola, recommends a variety of Huawei solutions and hardware to their customers in the energy industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy

10|30|14   |   4:08   |   (0) comments


Gosaye Mengistie of Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy discusses the collaboration with Huawei in that country.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Dongfang Electronics Corporation

10|30|14   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Dongfang Electronics Corporation, headquartered in Chengdu, China, is one of China's largest manufacturers of power generators and contractors of power station projects.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Zimbabwe's Customers

10|30|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


Representatives of Zimbabwe's Ministry of Power and Development discuss the energy needs of their country as well as new areas of improvement due to enhanced ICT capabilities.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Colbún Chile

10|30|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


In Chile, an aging energy infrastructure was in dire need of a modern update. Claudio Valenzuela of Colbún discusses how Huawei's ICT solutions continue to provide crucial information to improve the grid and how an in-country engineer is a cricial asset.
Upcoming Live Events
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 30, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Microsoft's Skype Embraces WebRTC on IE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/27/2014
FTC Slaps AT&T With Throttling Lawsuit
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/28/2014
Wheeler Gets Down With OTT
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/29/2014
China's MVNOs Hit the Wall
Robert Clark, 10/27/2014
Let's Not Kill SDN & NFV With Silos
Francois Locoh-Donou, Senior VP, Global Products Group, Ciena, 10/28/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed