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The Clash of Cell Phones

May 19, 2009

For companies who produce consumer products in Japan there are two times a year they contemplate releasing their new product lines: summer and winter. This is because summer and winter are when the massive consumer base in Japan receives their biannual bonuses. Docomo has gotten a contract to produce a phone using the Google Android, while Softbank will be producing the iphone. The newspapers ran headlines this morning about the preparation being done for the anticipated battle between Softbank and Docomo this summer, and which side is going to be triumphant.

Asahi “Docomo Releases for the First Time a Google Cell Phone. Softbank Increases Animation…” This headline alone from Asahi makes it quite obvious which cell phone provider they support. Each paragraph in their article on the release of cell phones details the Docomo phone, and how it will utilize Google’s superior android technology, along with their “easy to use” email capability. Google’s also sold over 1 million of their smart phones, the Asahi adds, and Docomo’s president stated “This phone will make a big impact.”

The selling point for the Softbank phone, which the Asahi doesn’t mention until their last paragraph in the article, is the fact that it’s solar-powered. The Yomiuri elaborates.

Yomiuri “Softbank Releases a Solar Powered Cell phone” Yomiuri doesn’t even mention Softbank’s rival, Docomo, in their article. Softbank’s release of the solar powered cell phone “utilizes the 936SH technology, an estimated value of 45000 yen (450 dollars).” The cell phone, when charged in the sun for ten minutes, will allow the user 2 hours of juice. They also describe the solar panel being on the outside, so it must be charged in the folded position.

NikkeiThe Market Battle’s Heating Up” The Nikkei doesn’t really seem to take either Docomo or Softbank’s side, and instead focuses on commentary about the cell phone market. Docomo will come out with 18 different types of phones, while Softbank will have 19, so consumers will have their work cut out for them. The market, they claim, is to entice consumers to buy a new cell phone to replace their old one. This makes the old cell phone market “super saturated”. Although the Nikkei also mentions the average price being about 50,000 yen (500 dollars) per phone, with a two year contract that price can be brought down to 20,000 (200 dollars).  

The cell phone clash begins this August.

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