KDDI smart phone arrives, loaded

by Kazuaki Nagata

Aiming to overcome its late start in the smart phone war, KDDI Corp. released a handset for its au brand Friday armed with functions familiar to users of conventional cell phones but not featured in smart phones before.

The IS03, manufactured by Sharp Corp., is the first smart phone in the domestic market to include the e-wallet function, infrared data communications and one-seg digital TV broadcasts all together. Those functions are all usually featured in plenty of regular cell phones but not smart phones.

Smart phones that have been sold here, including Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S, are global models and not fully adapted to local needs.

“When looking at cases with other carriers, many customers have regular cell phones and use smart phones as a second phone. So some users would naturally think that it would be nice if one phone takes care of everything,” KDDI Senior Vice President Takashi Tanaka, who will assume the carrier’s top post next month, told reporters after a kickoff event at the Bic Camera in Tokyo’s Yurakucho district.

The handset with a 3.5-inch multitouch screen is powered by Google’s Android 2.1 operating system and comes with a built-in 9.57 megapixel camera. It can use Lismo, au’s music and movie distribution service, and a new Skype application.

KDDI officials said they’re confident about the handset’s sales outlook, and the firm has already ordered Sharp to produce more than 600,000 units.