Vodafone useless, pulls out of Japan

by NFG - 3rd June 2006 in Japan, Tech

The newest vodafone unit, the Sharp 904-SH, is like a mini deity. Check out this feature list: VGA screen, Bluetooth with a neat new ‘near chat’, letting you talk to people within a ten metre radius, 3.2 megapixel camera (featuring an incredible zoom mechanism, with 5 lenses!), optical zoom, motion sensor gaming, Felica e-payment chip, 3D sound, face recognition, 3G, GPS, SD card, W-CDMA + GSM, USB, infrared, video output, Flash animation, and QR code reading capability.

The top of the line Motorola does, let’s see, less than half that, and costs twice as much. Japanese manufacturers, combined, have less than a 10% market shar of worldwide phone sales. Vodafone was uniquely positioned, as the only Japanese carrier, to launch these amazing phones – most of which were already running in 100% English – worldwide.

They didn’t.

So, as far as I’m concerned, they deserve to lose Japan. They squandered the resource, fuck ’em. Not being able to take advantage of these kinds of capabilities speaks of nigh criminal incompetence. SoftBank, a large ISP and publisher, will be buying what’s left of Vodafone in Japan. They can’t possibly do worse than Vodafone themselves did. With luck they’ll change their name back to J-Phone, and forget this nasty little incident ever happened.


It would seem Vodafone have no idea WTF they’re doing in Japan. They were consistently innovating, making giant advances with the assistance of their hardware partners (mostly Sharp, but also Toshiba, Sanyo and a handful of others) and offering many features well in advance of other carriers. Docomo gets all the press overseas, but Vodafone was first with great family pricing, 2-megapixel cameras and a unified gaming structure: There are only 4 levels of gaming for Japanese Vodafones, where trying to find compatible games on Docomo is a bit of a minefield.

But I digress.

It would seem that Vodafone K.K., the Japanese arm, simply couldn’t or wouldn’t communicate with the rest of Vodafone’s global operation, and none of the world-class phones, customer-first philosophy or affordable pricing made it out to the rest of us. Vodafone worldwide is an evil giant, with the same shitty phones as everyone else, and the same shitty rates. Vodafone is, it would seem, better at colluding with its enemies, the other carriers, than it is with its purported partner in Japan.

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