DoCoMo Misses World Cup Open Goal

With the FIFA World Cup 2002 tournament having kicked off in Japan and Korea, subscribers to NTT DoCoMo's 3G service, FOMA, can now view soccer video clips on their wideband CDMA handsets.

But with a golden opportunity to score a hit with its sports-loving customers staring it in the face, DoCoMo seems to have tripped over its bootlaces and missed the target. "For the first time in history," trumpets an official press release, "Japanese football fans will be able to watch the 2002 FIFA World Cup match highlights and exclusive video content from the FIFA archive on their mobile phones."

So far so good, even if it is just available to the 110,000 or so FOMA subscribers. But the month-long tournament consists of 56 games, so what is actually on offer? "FOMA users will see 1 minute of highlights of the opening match, three matches of the Japanese National Team in the first round, and eight matches from the quarterfinals on."

Poor show. And for wasting such a fantastic opportunity, Unstrung feels obliged to show DoCoMo the Red Card.

spc_rayella 12/4/2012 | 10:18:44 PM
re: DoCoMo Misses World Cup Open Goal What is the point of having the ability to provide whizzy new video-to-the-handset services and then bothering to show the subscriber base that you can do it? Just picking out clips from Japan's games from the first round of matches misses the point - and that's spoken as a football fan and someone keen to see 3G services developed and delivered.
lrmobile_kr 12/4/2012 | 10:16:47 PM
re: DoCoMo Misses World Cup Open Goal Are you ready to pay $4.50 per megabyte? I think that even a football video or music mp3s to the handset are a marketing pipe dream - purely a technology push. An average song is 3 1/2 minutes long. At $4.50 a megabyte (the current rate that VoiceStream charges), you will pay more to download one song than the whole CD costs. How many times will you download 10-15 second football instant replays if they averaged 1.5 megabytes (or $6.75)?

The higher data rates (40-350 Kbps compared to the 9.6Kbs that CSD offers) and universal availability (unlike 802.11 hotspots) do address the needs of certain mobile users. Here are three real examples:

Real 3G applications are more like showing a real estate agent access to MLS listings on the run. When your customer did not like your initial properties, downloading ten more MLS listings is definitely worth $4.50 and may definitely lead towards a sale.

A trucker needing to download a street map or a weather map may also be well worth $1.00 of surfing.

A salesman checking his online inventory during a sales call may be another example where 3G could be useful.

I don't think uses of 3G that people are willing to pay for really need multimedia. Furthermore, I don't think that more than 10% of the current voice users will ever need 3G at all. I really wonder if the new hardware (switches, towers, handsets) and licenses will ever pay for themselves. For the most part, I see 3G as a nice technology, but like phones in airplanes, mostly unused because it's too expensive.

Konrad Roeder

spc_rayella 12/4/2012 | 10:16:42 PM
re: DoCoMo Misses World Cup Open Goal Pricing is absolutely a major issue. Anyone would have to think really hard and be quite desperate for the download to pay that sort of money. It's another of these Catch 22 situations, I guess. Prices won't come down until plenty of people are using the services - people won't use them until prices come down. Unless the service providers bite the bullet and subsidise handsets and lower service prices (and ensure their networks can handle potential data traffic streams) then the services will not be used en masse. That's a giant leap of faith, and initially a costly one, for the mobile operators.
lrmobile_kr 12/4/2012 | 10:16:29 PM
re: DoCoMo Misses World Cup Open Goal I don't see the data market to be nearly as large as the voice market. And due to this, I don't think that the prices of the data phones / wireless PDAs will come down nearly as fast as the voice only phones. I expect that the price of the wireless PDAs will probably remain fairly high for a while because people will pay for a PDA plus a little more because it's wireless, but the price per megabyte will need to drop substantially to get more users in.

As usual, the manufacturers have to provide vendor financing to sell their new data phones / wireless PDAs. But nevertheless, it's a huge debt game that will take a while to pay off.
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