In a brave move that could go either way, a medium-sized ADSL specialist company has joined the rough and tumble of Japan's mobile phone market by announcing that its first handset will go on sale at the end of March. Moreover, the gutsiest factor of all is that eMobile 's EM One phone can't actually manage voice calls.
The new carrier has always planned to launch as an HSDPA data-only W-CDMA network next month and then to expand through roaming agreements with other networks into voice calls next year, so the announcement isn't a surprise as such. The Sharp-made, smartphone (without the phone bit) is, however.
For ¥39,800 (£170) with a two-year contract, rising to ¥95,000 (£408) with no obligation to continue the service, the EM One is a pricy option for what is really an ordinary Windows Mobile 5.0 PDA. On the bright side, unlimited data at up to 3.6Mbit/s will cost just ¥5,980 (£26) a month.
High-speed data aside, the hardware is run of the mill - a 4.1-inch VGA display, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, QWERTY keyboard, a 1-3-megapixel camera and a quarter-kilogram weight don't encourage early adoption much. Still, the 1-seg mobile digital TV tuner might appeal to some, but that lack of voice calls is surely going to cripple eMobile's early sales? Perhaps a little dose of Skype will help in the meantime.