DoCoMo unveils Japan’s 1st Google cell phone; Softbank launches 60 new models

DoCoMo unveils Japan's 1st Google cell phone; Softbank launches 60 new models

DoCoMo’s Google cell phone


Japan’s top mobile phone carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc rolled out its new summer lineup of mobile phone handsets on Tuesday, introducing Japan’s first mobile phone to use popular Internet search engine Google Inc’s free Android operating system.

Smaller rival Softbank Mobile Corp the same day unveiled an equally eclectic lineup of mobile phone handsets for the summer season, including one able to recharge using solar energy and another designed by Giorgio Armani.

The two mobile phone carries, both based in Tokyo, took the wraps off their latest mobile phone handsets as they continue their efforts to attract customers with appealing, multifunctional handsets at a time when sales of mobile phone handsets are sluggish amid the nation’s economic slowdown.

In unveiling his company’s summer lineup, DoCoMo President Ryuji Yamada said his firm is striving to offer ‘‘appealing’’ mobile phones and stop slackening consumption in its mobile phone handsets.

‘‘Our new handsets have various new features that are aimed to make functions more user-friendly and applicable to our users’ lifestyles,’’ Yamada said.

From or after May 22, DoCoMo will launch 17 new models under its existing four series—style, prime, smart and pro—that were designed to suit the various lifestyles of its 54 million users and their preferences in designs, functions and digital tools.

Under the DoCoMo “pro” series, the HT-03A handset, Japan’s first Google phone, offers various kinds of Google’s services such as its search engine function, Google map, and video site YouTube, which can be easily accessed through the phone’s touch screen. Made by HTC Corp, a Taiwan manufacturer, it is scheduled to go on sale from June or July.

‘‘This handset can offer different services from iPhone and we see this as a big step forward in our smart phone series,’’ Yamada said. ‘‘The release of handsets carrying the Android OS is going to be a big impact among the smart phone models.’’

Apple Inc’s iPhone, offered by Softbank, has enjoyed popularity in Japan since the smart phone debuted last July.

In addition to its original handsets, DoCoMo is also offering limited editions of a SH-06A NERV mobile phone that is modeled after the latest film in the popular Japanese animation franchise ‘‘Neon Genesis Evangelion.’’ The film ‘‘Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance’’ will be released in late June, and will show its main characters on the NERV mobile phones.

DoCoMo said the NERV mobile phone will go on sale to the public from June or July. Of the limited edition of 30,000 handsets, 20,000 will be earmarked for those who have made reservations and the remaining 10,000 units will be put on sale at DoCoMo stores and other outlets.

Prices of DoCoMo’s newly introduced handsets are undetermined, but they are likely to range between 40,000 yen to 50,000 yen, a company official said.

Softbank, Japan’s third-largest mobile phone carrier, was not to be outdone, as it came out with its own lineup of 19 models which are scheduled to be sold as early as this month.

One of the newest attractions is the Solar Hybrid 936SH model, developed by Sharp Corp, which has been putting much effort into nurturing its solar-panel business. It is slated to go on sale in late August and is likely to cost around 40,000 yen.

‘‘The key word in current times is eco, and having said that, this is our latest offering that is environmentally friendly,’’ said Softbank Mobile President Masayoshi Son. ‘‘On top of that, this particular handset is convenient for people on business trips and outings such as camping.’’

Recharging the Solar Hybrid handset in sunlight for about 10 minutes makes it possible to secure two hours of standby display and call time lasting one minute, the company said.

KDDI Corp, Japan’s second-largest mobile phone carrier and the operator of the ‘‘au’’ brand mobile service, already announced in April it will begin selling in June a handset that can be charged by sunlight.

Softbank Mobile, a mobile phone service unit of Softbank Corp, also rolled out the classy 830SC Emporio Armani handset, a collaboration of Giorgio Armani Spa and Samsung Electronics.

Bearing the Armani trademark, the handset has the Armani name and logo in three different colors—red, blue and green—on its side.

Softbank said the design was created by Armani with the view of Tokyo at night in mind. The Armani handset will be available in mid-September and is likely to be priced around 10,000 yen, a company official said.

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