The MDN News is reporting that mobile talk time has finally surpassed land-lind talk time.
According to the report by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the total talk time on mobile phones in Japan was 1.899 billion hours, a 4.5 percent increase from the previous year, whereas calls made on fixed-line phones declined to a total 1.835 billion hours, an 11 percent decrease from fiscal 2006.
They cite recent mobile phone contracts, that include free talk time between friends and / or family, as a possible cause for such a turn-around. My guess is that this divide will only continue to increase as mobile phone coverage increases. The only question is, how will the mobile phone marketplace change?
The introduction of the iPhone to the Japanese market was a great first step in separating the content from the provider. Up until now, mobile phone providers controlled much of the content that got piped into their phones. And while the provider (in this case Softbank) can still control some of the information under the Apple Iphone, they have a much smaller stake in the overall pie.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Google Android makes it debut in Japan next year. From what I’m hearing right now, Docomo and Au will be offering the Google mobile phone as competition to the iPhone.
While these new devices mean potential changes and shifts in the marketplace, there is one problem that all of these foreign mobile phones will face: localization.
The biggest problem with the iPhone that I can see (and probably the largest cause of it’s semi-lukewam reception in Japan), has to do with a lack of basic featurs many Japanese phones now offer, such as one-seg TV and Osaifu keitai (e-wallet). Some of these features have become so common that not being able to offer them can become a real reason as to why a phone might not be able to fully penetrate the marketplace.
In any case, I guess we’ll soon find out if Google makes any changes to Android to provide a better “fit” for the Japanese marketplace. Take a look at Microsoft and the 360 for a good starting point — sales have finally started improving in Japan because they are actually listening and catering to the needs of Japanese gamers. No matter how “cool” your device is, if there’s no content geared towards users in that specific market, or if there’s key features missing, it simply won’t sell as well.