When Softbank, which bought Vodafone Japan recently, is in talks with Apple for a iPod phone, another Japanese wireless carrier KDDI Corp is unlikely to sit back and watch the action. KDDI said that it will launch a Walkman brand music phone made by Sony Ericsson in Japan in June. The phone - W42S - would sell for about 20,000 yen and have 1 gigabyte of music-dedicated memory, allowing it to store up to 630 songs. The phone would also have a playback time of about 30 hours. This is likely to tighten the competition in Japan?s $78 billion cellphone industry. Moreover, a new regulation is expected this autumn which will allow customers in Japan to switch services by retaining their existing phone numbers.
[James:] The big deal with this story is that the phone is launching in Japan. I?m not sure whether Sony Ericsson expects it to succeed on the back of the Walkman brand or whether it really is good enough to compete in the Japanese market on its own merits? Ringtonia linked to an AP story which said: ?Unlike those sold elsewhere, the Walkman phones in Japan will connect to a digital music store operated by KDDI Corp. called Listen to Mobile ServiceMobile Service, or Lismo, for downloading music and will also download tunes directly into the cell phone in a separate KDDI service called ?chaku-uta? that?s already popular in Japan.?
In other Walkman phone news, Sony Ericsson has signed up Gracenote to offer a music recognition service??The TrackID feature will be available on the W850 and the W710 models, which will offer Gracenote?s service globally.? As well as identifying songs by the sound the service will allow people to buy the songs from the operators music service.