White dog much preferred over black man

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Which mobile carrier's ads do you like the most? graph of japanese statisticsThe SoftBank adverts are my favourites, although there is always the risk of over-exposure with the dog even recently featuring in a photo book and a DVD. However, this recent survey from BlogCh showed no signs of flagging popularity when they asked about mobile phone television commercials.

Demographics

Between the 15th and 17th of July 2008 370 members of the CLUB BBQ free email forwarding service successfully completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 53.0% of the sample were male, 14.6% in their twenties, 49.2% in their thirties, 28.6% in their forties, and 7.6% in their teens or over fifty.

I wonder if they’ll have the SoftBank dog using the iPhone? Given that another survey today indicated that the euphoria has passed, will they trot out their dog to flog some more kit? Will they introduce a new character? They had five rather unpleasant cats recently but they only lasted a week or so. Oh, and here is Dante Carver, the black guy who plays second fiddle to a white dog.

Q3 also brings me to another pet hate (as it were) with the SoftBank mutt coming tops as a fireworks partner. Back in the UK, in the run-up to November the 5th they’d be public service advertisements and other reminders to keep pets indoors to avoid them getting spooked by fireworks, but I’ve never heard of such a thing over here.

Finally, if you’re a SoftBank customer, here’s your chance to win a talking Oto-san bank or strap and free Oto-san themed games and deco-mail!
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Narrow majority think SoftBank’s iPhone price is affordable

This survey from Marsh Inc and reported on by japan.internet.com into the matter of the iPhone also finds that a surprising to me percentage of people are aware of the details of the launch of the device.

Demographics

Between the 20th and 23th of June 2008 300 members of the Marsh online monitor successfully completed a private internet-based questionnaire. The sex and age breakdown was not reported, although Marsh usually has a 50:50 sex split, and 20% of people in their teens, twenties, thirties and forties, and the remaining 20% split between those in their fifties and those aged sixty or older.

My price predictions, then my reports of a leaked pricing memo have both turned out to be wrong, as on the 23th of June there was an official annoucement of the iPhone price. I still feel that the price is a bit low and as it undercuts the Series X smartphone prices, so I wonder if there is hidden charges or any extras that will bring the price up a bit. In Japan, as there is little public WiFi, the iPhone will put quite a strain on the mobile network, so does SoftBank have the capacity to handle a successful iPhone?

Oh, and here’s a rather low-quality video of the Japanese 12-key input method running in an emulator, using a mouse rather than a finger. I like the pop-ups when you hold down a button.


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SoftBank iPhone: other carriers’ customers more likely to buy

Will you sign up to SoftBank to use an iPhone? graph of japanese statisticsPerhaps I should temporarily rename the blog to “携帯 What Japan Thinks of the iPhone” since I’m joining in on the hype at every opportunity! This time it is JR Tokai Express Research Inc, as reported by japan.internet.com, carring out a survey into the iPhone.

Demographics

On the 13th of June 2008 330 mobile phone-using members of the JR Tokai Express Research monitor panel employed in private industry completed a members-only internet-based questionnaire. 71.2% of the sample were male, 11.8% in their twenties, 44.5% in their thirties, 32.4% in their forties, 9.1% in their fifties, and 1.8% in their sixties.

In Q2, it is curious that 10 people selected SMS as a feature they wanted to use. The users of SMS are few indeed, I think (I can’t remember the last time mentioned it on this blog), as a full email service (including HTML these days) is standard on phones, and there’s no such thing as free SMS in most plans. Perhaps it’s just that a few people are curious to see what exactly the fuss is about?

How's my iPhone article volume?

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SoftBank iPhone pricing plan leaked

A number of Japanese blogs are publishing what purports to be a confidential memo from SoftBank on the pricing plan for the new 3G iPhone; I found it at Uhyohyo no hyo. Assuming the memo to be genuine, what they are offering is as follows.

New Super Bonus

The “New Super Bonus” is a special iPhone-only tariff. For the handset, the price is a stunning 61,920 yen, payable in 24 monthly installments of 2,580 yen. However, with a special discount of 1,780 yen per month, that takes the price down to the Steve Jobs-promised under $200 level of 19,200 yen, 800 yen per month. Next we have the basic packages of White Plan and S! Basic Pack, 980 yen and 315 yen, for free calls outwith 9pm to 1am to any other SoftBank phone and basic mail and web access fees respectively.

iPhone-only Platinum Pack

With the above covering the basic facilities, next there is the data plans. First is Platinum Pack 1, offering unlimited Yahoo! Mail and MobileMe mail for 1,800 yen per month. Next is Platinum Pack 2, offering unlimited Safari-based browsing for 6,800 yen per month.

Release dates

The 8GB SoftBank iPhone will be released on the 11th of July, the 16GB towards the end of July. Pricing for the 16GB version is yet to be decided.

Adding it all up

The above sums up to a total charge of 10,695 yen per month, but, and it’s a big but, no free minutes to other service providers and no free calls from 9 pm to 1 am. A 300 free minutes plan, for instance, costs 8,190 yen per month.

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SoftBank iPhone: How much will it cost the Japanese?

Executive summary: 5.7% more expensive than DoCoMo’s latest models over one year.

With the recent confirmation of the rumours regarding the release of the iPhone in Japan via SoftBank, and with Steve Jobs promising that no-one will pay more than $199 dollars for the 8GB device, let us look at what this will actually cost, once one adds a service contract into the deal. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll assume one US dollar equals one hundred yen, so the price Steve Jobs is promising is 19,900 yen. As a point of comparison, the cheapest price I see offered for the 8GB iPod touch is 32,448 yen, so for the handset alone it is over a third cheaper. However, this figure ignores the contract that must be purchased to go along with the handset. By working from the information provided on the SoftBank web site, one can determine the expected total cost of ownership.

  • Basic package free minutes:
    8,190 yen (L Plan Value, 300 free minutes, 10.5 yen per 30 seconds afterwards)
  • Voice mail service:
    315 yen (extra for visual voice mail?)
  • Email, web access fee:
    315 yen
  • Unlimited data packets:
    9,800 yen (X Series smartphone price)
  • Total monthly charge:
    18,602 yen
  • Total one-year cost:
    223,440 yen

Note that if you use less than 6 MB per month the data packet cost will be lower. So, adding in the 19,900 yen for the handset, that’s 243,340 yen for a year, or about $2,433 or £1,160 in the UK. Note that actual costs might be cheaper if you add family discount plans, loyalty discounts for existing customers, and so on. Actual costs may also be more expensive if you go over your minutes, and also adding in an extra 980 yen per month for free calls to all other SoftBank phones from 1 am to 9 pm, and free calls all the time to family members.

Another plan, the Gold Plan, has a basic package charge of 9,600 yen per month with 200 minutes, but free to other SoftBank phones from 1 am to 9 pm, and 21 yen per 30 seconds outside these hours or to other carriers, but with discounts from 37% to 70% for long-term customers, and loyalty bonuses can be carried over from other carriers. Then there’s the Super Bonus, which has even more complicated trade-offs, but we’ll not go into that here…

By comparison, looking at the just-released range of phones from DoCoMo, the 906i series, a handset costs around 50,000 yen, then monthly costs for a similar service to the above is 8,400 yen for L Value plan with 240 minutes then 10.5 yen per thirty seconds, 5,985 yen for unlimited data packets on full browser, 315 yen for voice mail, and 315 yen for iMode access, giving a total monthly cost of 15,015 yen, and a yearly cost of 230,180 yen including handset, or $2,302, or £1,101 in the UK. This makes the iPhone 5.7% more expensive than DoCoMo‘s offerings, although with a myriad of discount schemes available the real price difference is much, much harder to directly quantify.

Of course, without emoji icon support, both display and writing, it will not make much headway amongst the influential youth set (yes, that will be a deal-breaker), and with Flash definitely not supported, despite being a standard feature on most new phones, the SoftBank iPhone will be hard to sell. However, as I predicted over a year ago, and I am yet to see any data to make me want to change my mind, the lack of One Seg television and FeliCa-based electronic cash will not affect the desirability of the SoftBank iPhone.

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Neither Brad Pitt nor Cameron Diaz can save SoftBank

Who do you think is the most reliable phone company? graph of japanese opinionMyVoice recently published the results of its 6th annual mobile phone service provider image survey. Note that I have previously translated the 5th annual survey.

Demographics

Between the 1st and 5th of February they interviewed 13,352 people from their onlione monitor community: 54% of the respondents were female, 2% in their teens, 19% in their twenties, 41% in their thirties, 25% in their forties, and 13% in their fifties.

The results here are pretty much in line with what even just the casual observer would conclude about the Japanese mobile phone market, although I would have thought that perhaps as Hollywood stars Brad and Cameron would have had a positive impact on SoftBank’s image, but their television commercials promote talking on the phone, ignoring the fact that most people email, and perhaps news of the rumoured three million dollars salary Cameron Diaz received for one six-hour shoot has soured the general public towards Masayoshi Son’s company.
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Changing mobile phone email address would cause problems to three-quarters

Do you plan to change mobile phone companies? graph of japanese opinionWith MNP, Mobile Number Portability, having just started in Japan, japan.internet.com reported that JR Tokai Express Research performed a survey into people’s views on MNP. They interviewed just 330 people from their internet monitor group by means of a private internet-based questionnaire. 66.3% of the sample was male, 33.3% female, so where that places the remaining one person, I don’t know! 17.3% were in their twenties, 41.8% in their thirties, 27.3% in their forties, 11.8% in their fifties, and 1.8% in their sixties.

The sample size for Q1SQ is very small, so it is difficult to extrapolate these figures, but it does seem that DoCoMo is the biggest loser and au the biggest winner. This backs up unofficial figures I heard of about 400,000 net loss to DoCoMo, 600,000 gain for au, and 200,000 less customers at Softbank, despite their suicidal price slashing. UPDATE: I was out by a factor of ten or so! This morning’s TV (recalling from memory, so the figures might not be 100% accurate!) said that au gained a net 103,000 customers, DoCoMo lost 75,000, and Softbank 23,000 over the last week. The figures don’t add up because there are also brand new customers included in the overall totals, I believe, and each company perhaps uses different counting methods.

For me, I had enough problem working out how to use my new phone from the same maker and service provider, so I’d be put off taking advantage of MNP and having to learn a whole new service model too!
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Sharp and Kyocera most desired mobile brands

With number portability just starting out, and with Softbank’s computer system melting down from the overload of new customers thanks to their, in my opinion, suicidal new pricing scheme (although the small print needs to be carefully read) it may be interesting to look at a survey conducted by JR Tokai Express Research over four days from the 20th to 23rd of October, just before the new system was introduced, into what mobile phones from each of the three main providers people desire. They interviewed 330 people from their internet monitor group, 67.3% male, 15.5% in their twenties, 41.2% in their thirties, 32.1% in their forties, 9.7% in their fifties, and 1.5% in their sixties.

Even although Softbank offer to honour all transferring customers’ loyalty discounts (we get about 30% to 40% off for ours), I do have a dislike of Yahoo!, and I don’t think these special offers will last that long.
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Hopes for Softbank Vodafone

Do you welcome Softbank buying Vodafone Japan? graph of japanese opinionFollowing on from the recent news about Softbank and Yahoo! buying all the outstanding shares of Vodafone Japan, itMedia published the results of a survey into mobile users’ views on Softbank entering the mobile phone market. The survey was carried out over five days at the end of March and the start of April, with 1200 people responding to a private questionnaire over the internet. The survey group consisted of 400 mobile phone users from each of the providers DoCoMo, au and Vodafone. More detailed demographic information, or where the group of users came from, is not stated.

The most interesting result is that for what people hope fill be the outcome of the deal, in particular regarding call and reception quality. It is a standing joke within the English-speaking community in Japan to call Vodafone “Borderfone” because of the perceived poor quality of reception. This survey shows that this is perhaps a valid criticism, as two in five Vodafone users are looking forward to improvements versus just a quarter of non-users.
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