~*~ Mobile Phones in Japan~*~ Technology Review

June 12, 2010 shastokes

Communication technology that continues to connect people with one another that are advancing more and more each day is the mobile phone.  While in Japan, people of all ages, young and old, were seen with their mobile phones checking messages or simply browsing the web. Mobile phones come in a variety of colors and styles that suit your personality. A hanging charm to accessorize your mobile phone was very popular to the Japanese culture as you would see more case covering with rhinestones more popular here in the United States   The mobile phone culture in Japan is also known as the “keitai culture”. “Keitai denwa” meaning “portable phones”.   The common style of mobile phone in Japan is the flip phone. There is also the sliding phone, iPhone, and a phone that flips horizontally.  These phones are capable of video, cameras, internet, video calling, online flash viewing, navigation, portable mp3 and mp4 players, mobile games, listening and viewing TV, fingerprint and face recognition for privacy protection, along with email and much more!

There are three main mobile phone companies in Japan. The biggest is Ntt docomo, followed by au by KDDI, and Softbank.  The parent company of Ntt docomo is Nippon Telegraph and Telephone.  It runs off the PDC (personal digital cellular 2g), i-mode (a mobile internet), W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access 3G), FOMA (Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access 3G), HSDA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access), and PHS (Personal Handy-phone System) networks.  Ntt docomo has over 50 million subscribers, and their goal is to improve coverage areas, communication stability, and to have disaster preparedness. Also, to increase child protection. KDDI runs on a CDMA network and has over 20 million subscribers.  Softbank also known as Vodafone or J-Phone runs on the W-CDMA 3G network and has exceeded over 15 million subscribers in 08.

Having a chance to visit the KDDI studio in Japan, there was a phone on display that was water proof.  To have a phone immersed in water and stilloperate is amazing to me because a lot of people here in the US have incidents of dropping their phone in water, and many companies do not replace water damaged phones under insurance plans.  This only makes people have to purchase another phone. Also, Japan is more of an eco friendly country and has designed a phone that is solar powered.  The solar panel was located on the front of the phone and with just moments in the sunlight, it will fully charge the phone. Ntt docomo had solar powered phones to purchase as well.  Also, some students had mobile phones that have portable battery rechargers that can charge up their phones on the go.

When it comes to being unique, mobile phones in Japan take the lead.  By simply taking a picture of a QR code, the mobile phone can access a link to a webpage or email address. A QR code, also known as a quick response code is a two dimensional bar code that was created by the Japanese corporation Denso- Wave in 1994.  The content within these codes can be decoded at high speeds.  These QR codes appear on magazines, billboard ads, signs, buses, business cards, and even on McDonalds’ bags! It can be recognized by its distinct square shape and art form design.  While at Keio University, the students were asked to take a survey for MSU’s research, and all the students took out their cell phones.  They took a picture of the QR code that was on the projection screen and it directed them to the survey link.

Japanese mobile phones can be pricey. One student from the University said they paid what is equivalent to US dollars $600 for their phone.  Since some mobile phones from the US do not work over in Japan, or would cost a great deal of money for roaming charges, you have the option to rent a phone.  A rental phone is easy to obtain for the tourist who needs mobile communication for their duration of the time.  To obtain a rental phone, all you need is your id and credit card, and for prepaid phones, you need a passport and Japanese Alien Registration.  After you are done with your phone, they can be easily returned to the airport or post office.

Japan, launching 3G technology first, has paved the way for mobile technology of today. Being able watch real time TV or play mobile games is just one of the many functions available on Japanese mobile phones. The Japanese are developing new ways to use their mobile technology with faster downloads, becoming eco friendly, and privacy protection.  It would be great to see the US adopt the Japanese way of telecommunicating!

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