Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Yomiuri: Docomo may start selling SIMs

UPDATE: I just found some comments made by Docomo CEO Yamada during their 3rd quarter report.
山田社長は「iPadは通信モジュールを内蔵した洗練されたPC、高級Netbookのようなもの。SIMロックフリーと聞いており、たいへん興味を持っている」とコメント。「昨日知ったばかりでまだ決めてはいないが、(ドコモの)micro SIMを入れて使ってもらうことになると思う。ビジネスモデルはこれから検討する」と話した。
CEO Yamada commented that "the iPad is very much like a refined PC or high-end netbook with a cellular radio.  We've heard that it will be SIM lock free, and I am very interested in it.  I just heard about this (the iPad) yesterday, so I haven't yet made a decision, but I think it will be useable with a docomo micro SIM.  We are evaluating the business model." 

I've pasted in the whole article in English and Japanese.  Bullet points:
  • Docomo may sell micro-SIMs for the iPad
  • Docomo may sell SIMs for unlocked phones, specifically the N1, which is coming to Japan.
Looks like that random employee may have been right.

Thanks: Tokyo Pete
Docomo considers selling SIM cards for Apple's iPad

The Yomiuri Shimbun

NTT Docomo Inc. is considering selling SIM cards for Apple Inc.'s new iPad tablet computer, sources said Saturday, taking a step toward a Japan in which such cards can be switched freely between different carriers' cell phones.

A subscriber identity module card, commonly known as a SIM card, is a small electronic card that records a cell phone subscriber's phone number and the details of their subscription. A cell phone will not work until a SIM card is inserted, and cell phones in Japan are SIM-locked, which means their SIM cards cannot be used in handsets sold by different carriers.

Docomo's SIM card can be used in all of the company's various handsets, for example, but will not function in cell phones sold by SoftBank or KDDI.

Apple unveiled its much-anticipated iPad on Wednesday. Users will be able to download electronic books, video games and other digital content via Wi-Fi or the 3G wireless network on cell phones.

The iPad model with wireless capability will be introduced in Japan in late March, and the one with 3G capability as early as June.

The 3G model will be SIM-lock free, and if Docomo proceeds with its plan to sell SIM cards for the iPad, it would be the first major domestic telecommunications company to sell SIM cards that are not bundled with handsets. Docomo aims to tap into the telecom needs of iPad users, the sources said.

Cell phones in other countries are mostly free from SIM-related restrictions. Cell phones that can use SIM cards sold by different carriers are called SIM-lock free or SIM-free.

A SIM card for the iPad will be about half the size of a typical SIM card for cell phones used in Japan. They will not be compatible with each other.

Meanwhile, Google Inc. plans to introduce the Nexus One cell phone in Japan in the near future. Its users will be able to freely switch carriers by inserting different SIM cards.

Therefore Docomo also is considering selling SIM cards that can be used in different cell phones.

If such foreign-made devices become common in this country, Japan may become more SIM-lock free.

(Jan. 31, 2010)
ドコモがiPad対応カード、「SIM」単体販売へ

NTTドコモが、米アップルの新型情報端末「iPad(アイパッド)」の日本での発売に合わせ、「SIMカード」単体での販売を検討していることが30日、明らかになった。今後、海外で一般的なように、通信会社と携帯端末を利用者が自由に選ぶことができるきっかけになる可能性もある。

国内の大手通信会社がSIMカードを単体で販売するのは初めて。ドコモは、アイパッド利用者の通信需要の取り込みを狙う。

アイパッドは、電子書籍やゲームなどのコンテンツ(情報内容)を無線LANや携帯電話の通信機能を使って入手する仕組みだ。携帯電話の通信機能を使う機種は「SIMフリー」の仕様で、SIMカードを別途購入する必要がある。ドコモは、この機種が発売される6月以降に合わせてSIMカードを販売する方向だ。

アイパッド向けSIMカードは、携帯電話用の半分程度の大きさで、携帯電話との互換性はない。だが、米グーグルもSIMカードを利用者が自由に差し替えて通信会社を選択できる携帯電話「ネクサス・ワン」の国内販売を予定している。このためドコモは、携帯電話向けのSIMカードの販売も検討している。今後、外国製の人気端末が普及すれば、端末と通信会社を利用者が自由に選択できるSIMフリーが、日本でも進む可能性がある。

国内の携帯電話機は、例えば、ドコモの携帯電話機間ではSIMカードの差し替えが可能。しかし、ソフトバンクの電話機とは差し替えて使うことができない。

SIMカード

携帯電話番号や契約内容を識別する情報が記録された小型ICカード。これを携帯電話に差し込むことで初めて通信可能になる。日本の携帯電話機には、他の通信会社のSIMカードを差しても通信できない「SIMロック」がかけられている。海外の携帯電話機は、こうした制限がないものが一般的だ。複数の通信会社のSIMカードに対応した電話機は「SIMフリー」端末と呼ばれる。

(2010年1月31日  読売新聞) 

6 comments:

  1. I read this article the other day too, and it's about damn time! Hope Google hurries up and releases the N1 here, I'm in the market for an Android handset, and April and the release of the Xperia X10 is too far away--
    I do wonder if Docomo will allow existing contracts to be used, and if not, what kind of contracts/pricing we will be seeing for these open SIMs.

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  2. At the very least, if you already have a subsidized handset that you haven't fully paid off over a 2-year contract, then (if Docomo does indeed offer ala carte SIMs) you would certainly have to pay off your existing phone if you wanted to move the contract to a new phone.

    I can't see any *logical* reason why Docomo would not let an existing customer without a subsidized phone simply register a new phone on their network and begin using it (again, if Docomo does do this).

    But, then again...

    http://softbanksucks.blogspot.com/2010/02/apple-ipads-tiny-sim-is-just-there-to.html

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  3. Well, even if all Docomo will be offering is micro-SIMs, that's still usable. I mean, reading Wired's article, it seems stupidly simple- the only difference between these and a normal SIM is the amount of surrounding plastic. I'm assuming, since the talk is all about opening things up, that at least the micro-SIMs Docomo will be offering will be usable in unlocked phones, and all you've got to do to make it fit in a regular phone will be a little extra plastic... Now, if Docomo decides to offer special 'open' contracts limited to the micro-SIMs, they're bound to be more expensive, with all the data the iPad is expected to consume.

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  4. Another wired article here. Thing is, it won't necessarily be usable because the iPad is not a phone. It won't have a phone number. I guess it could still be usable for data, but it won't be subscribed to any calling plan.

    If you were somehow able to make a phone call with the iPad SIM in a smartphone, which I don't see how that could be possible, you'd likely end up with the same situation as when you connect to the wrong APN for data - a huge bill.

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  5. Sorry to be the noob in all this but.... what's the current status on using the Nexus One in Japan on Docomo?
    While I do like my HT-03A, it's feeling a little clunky and slow (even when I first purchased it, unrooted etc). Hoping that Docomo will open itself up to the possibility of allowing Nexus One with all the bells and whistles (which I suppose is just 3G support) in the near future....

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  6. No news whatsoever. Nothing is really happening at all with interesting smartphones being announced. My guess is that perhaps it is related to the upcoming unlocking, which is supposed to apply only to "next generation" handsets sold from the end of the year. Maybe carriers are waiting to introduce some of the newer handsets until it is more clear what the rules will be, assuming the unlocking actually happens. After the mid-year election, maybe we'll end up with a new government (or a reorganized coalition) and the whole thing will be rethunk.

    The xperia is docomo's best selling smart phone ever. So, rest assured that Docomo has a keen interest in Android, especially since it has very similar functionality to the iPhone OS that Docomo can't get their hands on.

    If you're not already running an eclair ROM, give it a try to breathe new life into your phone. CM's official 2.1 ROM for the Magic is out and he has promised to bring Android 2.2 to the G1 and Magic with CM 6.

    ReplyDelete