So I was a little off about Smart Decode. Actually their use is not limited to the Phillipines, and they are also known as mcodes. The pattern was developed by NextCode. You can download the client for free and generate your own codes online (as is evidenced by the new NextCode icon in my Mobile Access tab). Anyway, check out ConnexTo to see if your phone is compatible, download the client and start making codes of your own.


Ok, so mcodes are even cooler than I thought. Not only can you send pretty much any data you could send in an SMS or v-card (what about v-cal or i-cal?), but the patterns can be presented in a variety of shapes and colors and still be recognized. This is a lot more versatile than any other mobile bar code schedma I have seen. For instance, QR-Codes are always square, and using more than one color in the pattern may make them unrecognizable by handsets. mcode allows you to make square, rectangular and L-shaped codes (and possibly more). I haven't seen barcodes utilized much outside of Asia, but as I am moving to Amsterdam soon I will have a chance to take a closer look at the European market.

It is a little difficult to get non-sponsored applications to install on Japanese keitai since the carriers make sure that they have a hand in any application that runs on the devices there. However, as an habitual QR-Code scanner (I try to scan most of them that I come across out of curiosity) I think that the approach taken by NextCode is more user-friendly and has more versatile marketing possibilities.
There are some keitai in Japan that are incredibly frustrating to scan a QR-Code with. You sometimes see people concentrating, holding their keitai carefully with two hands to keep it steady long enough for the scanner to recognize. Others recognize the code almost instantly. It would be interesting to know how reliable the scans are and how long they typically take to recognize.


EMobile ready to go live

So EMobile, the mobile arm of EAccess, have finally made their offering public. EMobile is a new carrier in Japan, leasing their network from DoCoMo I believe. Their first and flagship device, the S01SH is getting lots of hype. EMobile is promoting their new HSDPA device with a flat-rate data plan. Data cards under the same plan are available and of course they are making promotional bundles to cross sell fixed-line internet services from EAccess. EMobile seems to be going for the same market segment as Willcom, and this device will definitely make them a contender.

I think Sharp is becoming the most prolific device manufacturer in Japan. They also make Willcom's flagship WZero-3[es] as well as spotlight keitai for Docomo and Softbank. The S01SH has a 800x480 WVGA screen, is only 18.9mm thick and is 1-seg (ISDB-T) ready.