Monday, June 12, 2006

Eurotechnology Japan: More on DoCoMo plans to sell BlackBerry to corporates in Japan

Gerhard Fasol at Eurotechnology Japan blogs about DoCoMo's plans to sell Research in Motion's (RIMM) Blackberry to enterprises in Japan. Fasol notes that in the past, he was:

asked 100s of times by foreign CEOs and expatriate managers why BlackBerry does not work and does not exist in Japan. Several large global corporations also asked us for work arounds to get solutions in place for Japan which fulfill the job of BlackBerry. Finally, also several venture companies came to us which supply secure corporate email solutions and corporate scheduling applications similar to BlackBerry's offerings.
Fasol thinks the BlackBerry device DoCoMo will offer will be based on the Blackberry 8707 device. He also heard the following:
  • The planned BlackBerry for Japan will work on DoCoMo's FOMA (wCDMA) network in Japan, and will also have in-built connectivity for GSM and GPRS (2G legacy networks which are and will be in use for a long time to come in most countries outside Japan)
  • The initial BlackBerry device will have no Japanese input, which restricts the device to foreign expatriates in Japan, and guarantees to keep BlackBerry initially out of the mainstream Japanese market. This means that the initial market will be mainly managers in foreign subsidiaries in Japan. Those managers who are integrated into Japan's business world and private world, will need a separate local Japanese mobile phone to communicate and exchange email messages with their Japanese colleagues
Fasol points out some of the reasons there have been no Blackberry in Japan:
  • RiM did not invest in Japan
  • RiM reached no agreement with Japan's mobile operators
  • BlackBerry until recently did not work with 3G (wCDMA/UMTS) which dominates in Japan
  • Also, BlackBerry's QWERTY keyboard gives no advantage for Japanese language input
  • and finally, Japanese mobile phones with added software already provide most functions of a BlackBerry (and a lot more functions which BlackBerries cannot do)
He then lists some of the key issues that might derail RiM from success in Japan:
  • according to our information BlackBerry will not allow Japanese language input
  • apparently BlackBerry will not support i-mode. Lack of i-Mode automatically cuts BlackBerry out of Japan's mainstream
  • RiM will need to fulfill DoCoMo's quality requirements, which tend to be higher then those in other markets
  • RiM's art will be to balance necessary investments and profitability requirements