[From March Issue 2011]

Most people in Japan, young and old alike, own a keitai (a mobile phone, where keitai means “to carry around.”) Some people use it constantly, every day. This is because Japanese mobile phones offer so many functions.

Three of the most standard functions on any given mobile device include an “e-money application,” a “One-Seg (mobile digital TV broadcasting) service,” and “infrared data transaction” abilities. And while text messaging and taking photos are the most basic functions offered, some mobile phones can also play music, or download it to set as a personal ringtone.

In December, 2010 NTT Docomo Inc. released the T-01C, a.k.a. the REGZA Phone. This smart phone has the three standard functions, but is also waterproof. And since it is a Japanese custom to take nightly, long, hot baths, mobile phones that can be used in the bathroom have become very popular.

The T-01C also comes with an extremely high-resolution, 12.2 mega pixel camera. “A mobile-phone camera is a handy device for capturing life’s everyday moments since people always carry it around. And sharing photos helps strengthen communication among friends. This is why high resolution photos and movies are so popular, and therefore, it pushes us to continue developing better keitai cameras,” says SASAHARA Yuko, an NTT Docomo Product Division representative.

In November, 2010, the KDDI brand au released its IS03 model ketai. As expected, this smart phone also comes with the three standard functions. But, it also includes a permanent LCD clock display and an option to play music stored in-phone on a car’s audio system using an FM transmitter.

Another IS03 feature is the Skype communication application. “Computer and iPhone users can communicate using Skype via the Internet. However, on an au keitai, Skype communication can be made over our high quality mobile phone network,” reports MONJI Keiko, a KDDI’s PR department representative.

Softbank Mobile Corp. released the GALAPAGOS SoftBank 003SH in December, 2010. This keitai not only has the standard three functions, but it also comes with a 3D movie player for which no 3D glasses are needed. Furthermore, it comes with a business card reader that stores information by merely clicking the built-in camera.

“Mobile phones in Japan are developed so that ‘anything can be done on one keitai device,’” says FURUKAWA Masako, a member of Softbank’s Mobile Corp. MD Management Department. “This is why Japanese mobile devices now include built-in cameras and various other functions such as television, an e-wallet, a train pass, computing power, games, books and newspapers,” she adds.

In Japan, even novels are written on mobile phones, while contests are held for the best mobile phone photo accompanied by a haiku poem. And, it is thanks to such high-technological mobile phone functionality that Japan has developed such a phenomenally rich ketai culture. 

NTT Docomo Inc.
KDDI Corporation
Softbank Mobile Corp.

Text: SAZAKI Ryo

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