Softbank Mobile 学割 student discount offers at 0 yen base charge

softbank mobile finally started offering student discount at zero yen for base charge with tiered pricing for packet usage (quite low compard with otherwise).

tiered pricing for packet usage

Quite an audacious move. They are achieving No.1 position net increase over the past 9 months in a row, ahead of docomo and au. I myself experienced the similar kind of dynamism of pricing when i was a pricing manager at one air express company in Japan. The pressure is there essentially when you already have a certain amount of revenue, just like docomo or au, accumulated over the long period of time, It’s just damn hard to compete on price, for especially the top management just can’t make a decision on revenue dilution.

softbank+mobile, white+gakuwari

It also adds a good customer segmentation scheme just by pricing.
people looking at softbank mobile phones with new

softbank mobile recorded No.1 net increase in May

softbank mobile recored No.1 net increase in May, originally uploaded by morikenstyle.

Found this ad in the JR train a few days ago. Softbank mobile claims its No.1 net increase in May with aggressive pricing plans including WhitePlan ($10 base charge for phone), Double WhitePlan (Tiered pricing on WhitePlan), Free calls between family members 24/7.

 

 

Update: They’ve achieved No.1 in the three consecutive months May, June, and July (the photo taken at softbank mobile store in Shibuya).  The ad claiming so makes sense, given relatively low brand image held in the eyes of mobile users in Japan, relative to competitors Docomo and AU.  They spend TV ad a lot too.  Not surprisingly, reportedly both docomo and AU reacted with basically cutting the base charge in half for the new subscriber. I’d anticipate exactly the same pricing war softbank played and won at FTTH/ADSL penetration pricing in years 2001 and onwards.
softbank mobile tops 3 months in a row 

Shozu for X01HT

One of the things that are really annoying using smartphone photo is that you have to move files to PC before uploading to flickr. Today I’ve found the very useful tool called ShoZu that enables direct photo upload to flickr from smartphone (my case, X01HT, softbank mobile, Japan) :

It also allows up/download videos so I think the concept akin to dave winer et al talking a while back. I’ve found that Om Malik also likes shozu.

uploading photo via ShoZu from X01HT to Flickr

In terms of communication cost, the flat rate packet transmission for mobile plan in Japan initially increases after certain point in one step: that is, let’s say, $10 for the first some packets and the charge would increase straight until another point then becomes flat onwards. To use less packets, I tend to use wifi (of course, FON at home and outside, free of charge) and softbank BB mobile at McDonalds (which costs only $ 2 to $3 or something a month). Otherwise, I am gonna have to pay the full flat rate of JPY 4,200 (USD 35 or so) for packet in addition to mobile phone voice bill, which I don’t think so cheap as a personal use.

update: if you are in Tokyo, I strongly recommend to use NTT docomo mzone services, which costs only JPY 350 or 3 dollars a month with no extra if you subscribe to ntt docomo mobile service (that is, you have to live in Japan). This wifi service is available in most subway stations, some major trains like Toyoko line’s, Narita xpress, Keikyu Line, some Moss burgers, Tully Coffee, etc and some hotel lounge (right here I am getting access in the lobby of Nikko Hotel Tokyo).

Google Japan offers mobile gmail

Here is annoucement from Google Japan in Japanese, I could not figure out that when I first read this.

But, according to Markezine (in Japanese), Google Japan now offers mobile Gmail; namely, Docomo, AU, and Softbank. Yes, Softbank, which is strongly affiliated with Yahoo Japan. I used to be afraid Google might be more integrated with AU; but glad to see they include docomo and rival softbank, even.

1. Get access to the Internet, in my (daughter’s) case, via docomo

(BTW, myself now use softbank, my wife and daughter are super loyal docomo users. I coundn’t convince them.)

2. Go to http://gmail.com then it will bring you to the login screen.
login mobile gmail jp

3. After login, the list of incoming emails.

mobile gmail japan jp looks

Commoditizing mobile phone industry (JP)

Softbank mobile’s Son-san reportedly annouced the new pricing program (note the article in Japanese, Nikkei, the content will disappear within a few months) for its mobile phone. Now he is going to offer JPY 980 (USD 8.3) for the basic communication cost, while the equivalent cost at minimum like JPY 2,500 (USD 22) + at its competitors like Docomo and AU. “Don’t even bother to compare!” adds Son-san.

Softbank mobile X01HT promotes Yahoo as well as Google

IMAGE_080, originally uploaded by morikenstyle.

It is about neutrality. As long as it connects to the Internet via windows mobile 5.0 (this particular X01HT case), we get access to whatever the content we want to get access. Japan’s Softbank* mobile as a mobile carrier and a mobile terminal device provider ensures the Internet connection that includes Yahoo mail and Gmail. Even promotes Yahoo mail as well as Gmail in the softbank mobile in-store brochure. That’s quite fine. Then I was reminded of the CNET Japan article which published about a year and a half ago where softbank exec was preaching the open solution needed in mobile carrier/ content provider/ solution provider /distributor that collectively form the entire mobile (non-)ecosystem of Japan. (link)
note: *Softbank in effect operates Yahoo Japan, too.

THE SITUATION IS QUITE DIFFERENT WHEN YOU TAKE A LOOK AT “MOBILE” instead of THE INTERNET via win mobile 5.0:

But if you’d take a look at MOBILE (mobile-carrier’s net), Docomo, AU, and SOFTBANK all have their own sites, they are all silo and operate uniquely, unlike THE INTERNET. There seems little common ground. Yet, at one level, Google seems to try to make the mobile content searchable in one search box (BETA, the pic google box below in my daughter’s docomo).

google-in-docomo

But I heard Gmail now can be used only at AU’s under partnership agreement, but not at Docomo or Softbank, which I don’t think ideal so far. And I simply worry about the future of entire “MOBILE” (non-)ecosystem of Japan that could possibly collectively fall behind the global standards.

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FON, MYLO, X01HT at MIXI

AU tops

According to Nikkei, the net increase for mobile subscibers for the month of October (remember : Number Portability made effective as of Oct 24) were:
– 200,600 (up from 160,800 in September) for AU

– 40,800 (down from 126,300 September) for Docomo
– 23,800 (up from 23,400 in September) for Softbank
What a significant loss for Docomo!

Another disruptive innovation by Softbank ?

Softbank Japan audaciously proclaims, in its advertising I spotted at the station: in Japanese, the body copy, ”ケータイが凄いことになりそうです。” that more or less in English meaning (ok, its my take) :”mobile” is going to be disruptive on Oct 1.

060908_2259~0001

Given the number portability between au, docomo, and softbank is to be ope rationalized effective on 10/24 according to CNET Japan, the announcement of Oct 1 might serve as a preliminary statement, and if it is really “凄いこと” (“disruptive” or “chaotic” as I read it), well it is going to be “凄いこと”. Obviously if the new number portability program is so promising, you might be tempted to annouce it earlier than the rest will do and early enough so that it will have the time for WOM to spread well before the launch.

Softbank is known for its penetration pricing; they penetrated ADSL services throughout Japan circa 2001, with the lowest price ever below JPY 3,000 at fixed cost for always on connection, when all the equivalent services were offered around JPY 5,000 -7,000 back in the days many people (myself included) were still using the dial up, cost on a pay-as-you-go basis beyond a certain level of usage for a given month. The following Internet statistics shows how low the broadband penetration was back in 2001 (the diagram I’ve stolen from Impress, now they got the now report out for 2006 in PDF in Japanese)

internetstats

However, the situation this time is different. It was OK with Broadband, by lowering the price, to increase the penetration virtually zero in 2001 to somewhere around 40% in 2006.

Now the mobile is already penetrated quite well across the nation; everybody has it. Even my daughter at grade 3 has it with docomo kids discount at 1500 yen a month. It might be wise for softbank not to ignite the pricing war; once it started, the industry wise revenue will dilute. Therefore, this time it is not about simply the pricing war but instead it should involve servicing (“disruptive”) war with moderate pricing. That is how I expect this category to evolve.

Using LISMO with Flickr

Yesterday, I was trying to upload AU mobile phone pictured photos to flickr using AU’s LISMO software. It went something like this:

1) Download LISMO to my computer (WIN PC, in my case), obviously.
2) Sync photo files in my mobile phone with PC using USB enabled cord.

3) Photo images appear in the LISMO screen (below)

lismo

Like i-TUNES, this LISMO looked like a big silo as Doc Seals once so characterized i-TUNES. Then, I called AU customer support for assistance, asking how I can find the photo files in the windows explorer ’cause I knew I might need it in flickr interface.

The answer was: START=>right-click on MY COMPUTER=>Explorer=>C=>Documents and Settings =>All users=>ApplicationsData=>KDDI=> auMusicPortUserData=> AccountData=> 001=>Album=>2006=>7 (in case of photo taken July, 2006)

When I complained it is tedious, the support stuff agent agreed and was kind enough to offer the alternative way. Export that “Album” folder by right clicking on it to Desktop. The solution was somewhat OK to me. I thanked him and hanged up the phone.

When I actually uploaded the photo, I happened to have remembered that flickr has its own uploader and tried it with LISMO with the drag and drop of the photo from LISMO to Flickr uploader. It worked just fine (below).

lismo_flickr

Why we take photo with mobile phone to begin with? To me, to share them with with friends and family on the Internet. Why would they provide the interface with your mobile phone device and PC (or Mac)? Displaying them in the proprietary software called LISMO in the PC is only half way and definitely not the end; uploading them in the public photo sharing site is the goal to me. I think AU should know the tips beforehand and educate the support stuff about how a user can easily integrate with flickr and the like. That’s what taking photo with mobile phone is all about.
Seek vertical integration and proprietary profits later on, but focus on usability and openness earlier. It won’t happen overnight. Nonetheless, I am sure Yahoo mobile of Japan soon will provide the much easier interface with flickr (uploader). Note: flickr is a subsidiary of yahoo corporation.

LATER: I noticed the fundamental mistake of LISMO; it forgets to ask the email address of a user, which ideally can be asked at the time of sign up/download (well no sign up process, in fact). So it basically lacks the communication gateway such as mail magazine with a potential user except for mobile mail. But, since they downloaded LISMO it is the sign and indication the user is also a PC (or MAC) user and willing to integrate the mobile with PC (or MAC). For what it is worth, iTUNES and SONY MYCLIP even regularly email me with new release information.

Number Portability on October 24

According to CNET Japan, Japan’s three major mobile carriers, notably, Docomo, AU KDD, and YAHOO have agreed that Number Portability to be effective on October 24, while the details especially the fee asoociated with changing the carrier for the same number are yet to be known (CNET article in Japanese). I think given the competitive pressure and the nature of number portability, the fee would also be competitive.

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