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att. Culture - Japan's Mobile Phone Renaissance
att. Culture - Japan's Mobile Phone Renaissance
att.JAPAN Issue 9, November 2002

Japan's Mobile Phone Renaissance


Teppie and Christina Chartomatsidis TOKYO TWINS REPORT
From sushi to the Japanese Yen, att. Reporters Teppie and Christina Chartomatsidis take you on a journey to discover more on what Tokyo has to offer.


For over two decades, the Japanese have stunned us with their sophisticated and amazing technology. Their invention of the Sony Walkman in the eighties gave them an envied reputation no other country came close to matching. Now the Japanese mobile phone industry has stolen the spotlight, causing heads to turn the globe over.

MobileWhile the rest of the world settles for drab and outdated cellular technology, the Japanese in comparison have transformed the conventional mobile phone into a super high tech gadget. Japanese telecommunication giants have designed ultra cool and intelligent mobile phones leaving Europe and America lagging about two years behind.

Back in February 1999, the Japanese were the first to experience internet wireless applications and email through their mobile handsets. NTT-DoCoMo, Japan's leading mobile service provider, graced media headlines with its introduction of "i-mode". "I-mode" sparked the beginning of Japan's mobile phone renaissance and revolutionized everyday humdrum social life.

"I-Mode" users are able to access tons of information and a multitude of services through more than 40,000 internet sites anywhere, anytime via their small mobile phones! Services include emails, online shopping and banking, train schedules, dating sites, ticket reservations and more. Subscribers can download hundreds of pictures of their favorite characters such as Mickey Mouse, Barbie and Hello Kitty to name a few. In addition, you can download ring tones of current top 10 songs, Disney favorites and billboard classics! Keeping informed on what's happening in the world isn't a problem either - you can choose from various news servers such as CNN, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters to deliver reliable and up to the minute news, sports and economic information.

MobileShortly after DoCoMo's introduction of "i-mode", users of other Japanese mobile phone carriers were also able to use internet wireless applications through their phones. According to a report released in August this year by online site "Mobile Media Japan", there were around 58.7 million mobile net users. NTT DoCoMo however, is the most popular of the group, boasting 34.4 million subscriptions.

All this exciting technology has made other nations hungry for a slice of the action. European countries such as Holland, Belgium and Germany have only this year adopted the "i-mode" advantage and users can finally surf the web via portable phones.

Online entertainment and email aside, these extraordinary phones employ fun and useful functions such as built in cameras, street navigators, schedule planners, arcade style games, photo albums and a whole lot more! Japanese phones are much lighter, thinner and smaller than American and European models. Through stupendous design and innovation, there are a plethora of models available to suit any age or style.

Walk into any one of the thousands of mobile phone stores, and entertain yourself through browsing at the breathtaking array of phones on offer. Consumers can choose from hundreds of colors, shapes and designs, making foreign oversized portable phones seem boring and prehistoric!

Pick from colors such as hot pink, metallic pastels, fire- engine red, silver, gold, green and many more. Styles on sale range from Hello Kitty, Ferrari, folding, non-folding- all with fluorescent lights that flash upon receiving calls and emails. Folding models are the most popular on the market. Most fold-up phones are designed with exterior color screens that display cool and cute graphics, time, date and fun photos of you and your friends taken with the built in camera!

Almost two years ago, Japanese mobile phone designers sent the masses wild with the introduction of the camera phone. The Japanese have again proven dreams can certainly become realities! Through this achievement, they redefined the "Kodak classic moment" by offering immediate photos with the press of a button. Forget the burden of using a scanner you never had and a tedious wait at the photo shop. Not only do you have your photo processed in a split second, you can send it anywhere via email throughout the globe, whether it be Tokyo, New York, Amsterdam or Calcutta!

The repercussions of this Japanese mobile phone renaissance are astounding. Portable phones have played an important role in revolutionizing communication and reshaping the fabric of society. Social interaction among the youth has thrived through the use of short email messages decorated and sent with cute animated icons. The phones themselves have become somewhat of a fetish - styled with character or designer straps, stickers and flashing antennas.

It certainly doesn't stop here! Consumer demand for greater technology has left mobile phone designers feeling the pressure to deliver more fun inventions apace. With all that has been achieved so far, it is no surprise Japan will undoubtedly remain the leader in the worldwide development of mobile phone culture and technology.

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