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 Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (1) comment


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
LRTV Documentaries
AT&T's New Security Strategy

12|10|14   |   02:36   |   (1) comment


AT&T's Chief Security Officer Ed Amoroso explains how his company is wrapping virtual security layers around micro network domains.
LRTV Documentaries
2020 Vision: A First View

12|9|14   |   02:25   |   (3) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Iceland, unique Heavy Reading research shows that comms service providers are optimistic about the next five or so years.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
Vodafone to Ride T-Mobile Back Into US
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/12/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Gardner's Departure a Cautionary Tale
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 12/12/2014
Cisco Makes Big Analytics Push
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/11/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Upcoming Webinars
Webinar Archive