J-Phone, the Japanese operator controlled by Vodafone, has announced that it will introduce two new video messaging handsets in October 2002.
Sanyo’s J-SA51 and Sharp’s J-SH52 will enable users to send and receive video clips up to five seconds in length over J-Phone’s PDC network using the Movie Sha-Mail service. The J-SA51 features the industry’s largest colour sub-display, providing a 65,000 colour viewfinder and image display capabilities when the handset is closed. It also has an enhanced 110,000 pixel CCD for capturing images in low light conditions, ZIP file compatibility and 3 Mb of memory for Java applications. The J-SH52 has a slightly smaller sub-display, but adds an SD card slot, 310,000 pixel camera, seven-colour mood lighting and an optional Disney theme for the handset interface. The Sanyo handset will cost YEN 53,500 (USD 450) and the Sharp product YEN 60,000 (USD 500).
With the introduction of the two new handsets, J-Phone will have six Movie Sha-Mail devices in its portfolio. The service is currently limited by the transmission speed of the ageing PDC network over which it operates, but J-Phone is hoping to enhance the service when it launches its W-CDMA 3G network in December 2002.
Video messaging is poised to become the next major growth area for Far Eastern operators. Korean and Japanese consumers already have access to a wide range of compatible handsets, albeit at relatively high pricepoints. J-Phone has demonstrated that video services can even be delivered over PDC networks at 9.6 Kbs. It represents a natural progression from sending still images.
However, Japanese operators are still trying to use video capabilities as a competitive advantage in the market, fighting to offer the most advanced handsets and transmission of the longest clips. While this will drive technological advances, operators must recognise that the market is maturing rapidly and would benefit from the same open approach which allows users of GSM handsets to exchange text messages with virtually anyone, regardless of network operator. Inter-network compatibility must happen at some point and when it does it will drive message volumes much more quickly than introducing another flashy new handset.
Originally published by PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence, the subscription-based analysis and insight platform founded by Marek Pawlowski.