The BlackBerry Bold in Japan – a user survey

10 Comments

Takeshi Kitano

Recently, I’ve been reporting about Bold’s in Japan overheating. The article caused a lot of people to start commenting about what it’s like owning a BlackBerry in their part of the world. I find RIM’s presence in Japan really interesting because previously, North American smartphones would be considered not powerful enough for the Japanese market. Since there are so many questions, I decided to ask a Japanese BBCool reader what he thinks about his latest BlackBerry Bold purchase.

BlackBerryCool: Why did you buy a BlackBerry?
Makoto Kazuo: I work in an international team and all my American colleagues have one. I thought it was a really cool technology. I’m a research assistant and do lots of fieldwork. I need to access my email while I’m out of my office. Carrying my laptop around for that purpose wasn’t very fun. And the QWERTY keyboard was a big plus. When you have to type long texts (sometimes I write myself a long email as a field note), it’s a must. So when it came out here, I bought it right away.

BBCool: How does it compare to Japanese smartphones?
MK: While Japanese cell phones have lots of high functions (3G Internet, mobileg TV, video chat, mobile wallet etc), I don’t know if they are “smartphones” in a regular “western” sense. I think the iphone was the first big smartphone hit in Japan, but the touch screen just didn’t work for me.

BBCool: What are important features in a phone, in your opinion?
MK: Email/Internet Browser/GPS Map/Camera. I didn’t really find GPS maps important until I got my blackberry though. Now I can’t live without it!

BBCool: Are you happy with your purchase?
MK: Totally.

BBCool: What could BlackBerry do to satisfy more Japanese customers?
MK: Although they did a great job on Japanese language input system, not all services are compatible. Like, one of our main complaints is that it doesn’t work with DocsToGo. And no one is making Japanese applications.

BBCool: Will you be buying another BlackBerry?
MK:
I’m quite happy with the Bold for now, but I am curious to see what new models they might add to the lineup.

So it seems that DK would fit into a group of Japanese BlackBerry owners that do a great deal of international business. Of the 4,000 Bolds that were sold in Japan, I’m sure MK’s situation is very similar to the majority of these users. On the other hand, I’m sure there are users in Japan who bought the device for other reasons.

I’m still curious to know why someone who lives in Japan and does not work in English, owns a BlackBerry. The QWERTY isn’t very Japanese friendly, and I’d be surprised if BlackBerry supports the Japanese style of emoticons – emoji. Perhaps the purchase is more one of status, like owning a Ford in Thailand.

Do you live in a country other than the US, Canada, UK and Australia? Tell us about your BlackBerry experience.

  • Joerg Schaum

    Hi there,

    I own a japanese BB Bold too. Although I’m longtime WM user, it was clear to me, that I will buy a BB Bold. I was on the way to purchase one over the Internet, but, after it was announced last year in late summer, I decided to wait for its release by my favourite carrier.
    For me, it has nothing to do with some kind of status. It’s my main smartphone and email machine at time and the WM device, a japanese Touch Diamond Pro, from NTT Docomo too, is the second one. They are working very well together. Japanese input on the BB Bold is very fluently, no problem at all. Of course, right now, there aren’t much japanese software available yet, but I think its just a matter of time to fill the gap. The same is for japanese office document support. Some work and some not. I got some workarounds here in first place. For example, Simprits Gridmagic, Pocket Informant, Calendar Pro and some other work very well with japanese fonts.
    No, my Bold has no overheating problems. I think this is some kind of overreaction. I’m not sure,but it looks like some people using some kind of not so much compatible USB chargers around here.
    By the way, NTT Docomo will proceed selling the BB Bold on early April. That should give that other company, I think the name was Softbank (without that white dog, they wouldn’t sell anything), some little bit time to sell a few Samsung Omnias and stop shouting. The comming of the BB Bold long time ago announced and Softbank had their deal with the IPhone (they bleeded for this contract), so it looks like Softbank might be lose some ground to BB Bold switchers. Maybe we might see some similiar kind of conspiracy when NTT Docomo releases the Toshiba TG-1A in comming May.
    I’m glad the NTT Docomo finally got their sense for great technology back.

    Joerg

  • Joerg Schaum

    Hi there,

    I own a japanese BB Bold too. Although I’m longtime WM user, it was clear to me, that I will buy a BB Bold. I was on the way to purchase one over the Internet, but, after it was announced last year in late summer, I decided to wait for its release by my favourite carrier.
    For me, it has nothing to do with some kind of status. It’s my main smartphone and email machine at time and the WM device, a japanese Touch Diamond Pro, from NTT Docomo too, is the second one. They are working very well together. Japanese input on the BB Bold is very fluently, no problem at all. Of course, right now, there aren’t much japanese software available yet, but I think its just a matter of time to fill the gap. The same is for japanese office document support. Some work and some not. I got some workarounds here in first place. For example, Simprits Gridmagic, Pocket Informant, Calendar Pro and some other work very well with japanese fonts.
    No, my Bold has no overheating problems. I think this is some kind of overreaction. I’m not sure,but it looks like some people using some kind of not so much compatible USB chargers around here.
    By the way, NTT Docomo will proceed selling the BB Bold on early April. That should give that other company, I think the name was Softbank (without that white dog, they wouldn’t sell anything), some little bit time to sell a few Samsung Omnias and stop shouting. The comming of the BB Bold long time ago announced and Softbank had their deal with the IPhone (they bleeded for this contract), so it looks like Softbank might be lose some ground to BB Bold switchers. Maybe we might see some similiar kind of conspiracy when NTT Docomo releases the Toshiba TG-1A in comming May.
    I’m glad the NTT Docomo finally got their sense for great technology back.

    Joerg

  • Bambang Tandjung

    I live in Indonesia and I used to live the US as well back in the 80′s.
    I saw the first BB back then in the US around 1996. It was bulky and unpopular.
    But when the Curve model hit the market, and was introduced to my home country Indonesia for the first time in 2006, the craze went on since then.Today, anywhere you go in Jakarta (the capital city), you will see people typing on their curves, javelins, bolds and storms. From students, young adults, biz people to housewifes.. all using BB. In any gathering, ones can feel out of place for not having the BB to network. Amazing phenomenon for the past 2 years!

  • Bambang Tandjung

    I live in Indonesia and I used to live the US as well back in the 80′s.
    I saw the first BB back then in the US around 1996. It was bulky and unpopular.
    But when the Curve model hit the market, and was introduced to my home country Indonesia for the first time in 2006, the craze went on since then.Today, anywhere you go in Jakarta (the capital city), you will see people typing on their curves, javelins, bolds and storms. From students, young adults, biz people to housewifes.. all using BB. In any gathering, ones can feel out of place for not having the BB to network. Amazing phenomenon for the past 2 years!

  • http://homembit.com/ Jomar Silva

    I’m from Brazil and the BlackBerry works very fine here (I have a Bold too).

    The only problem that I see to increase the BB sales in Brazil is that the price of the BlackBerry services still very high, but usually mobile data services in Brazil are very expensive (we even have “first looking cheap” plans, but with a lot of limitations that most of the users will only understand after their first bill…).

    The 3G networks in Brazil are only available on big cities (as Sao Paulo, where I live) but they are very unstable and the bandwidth usually is a joke. Or networks are OK for e-mail, acceptable for mobile browsing but never mind to use it for youtube or similar applications (that’s why I’ve wait until Bold was launched here, because of its Wifi). In most of the country all that we have is poor GPRS networks (with some EDGE areas).

    The Storm will be launched here tomorrow, but I think that the sales won’t be that big. Most of the “geeks” already have their brand new iPhones (almost “a must” from October until December of last year), and they still paying for them (an iPhone 3G it costs at least US$ 1K here… as amazing as it sounds).

    If you need more information about IT&C in general in Brazil, please let me know.

  • http://homembit.com Jomar Silva

    I’m from Brazil and the BlackBerry works very fine here (I have a Bold too).

    The only problem that I see to increase the BB sales in Brazil is that the price of the BlackBerry services still very high, but usually mobile data services in Brazil are very expensive (we even have “first looking cheap” plans, but with a lot of limitations that most of the users will only understand after their first bill…).

    The 3G networks in Brazil are only available on big cities (as Sao Paulo, where I live) but they are very unstable and the bandwidth usually is a joke. Or networks are OK for e-mail, acceptable for mobile browsing but never mind to use it for youtube or similar applications (that’s why I’ve wait until Bold was launched here, because of its Wifi). In most of the country all that we have is poor GPRS networks (with some EDGE areas).

    The Storm will be launched here tomorrow, but I think that the sales won’t be that big. Most of the “geeks” already have their brand new iPhones (almost “a must” from October until December of last year), and they still paying for them (an iPhone 3G it costs at least US$ 1K here… as amazing as it sounds).

    If you need more information about IT&C in general in Brazil, please let me know.

  • http://papogp.wordpress.com/ Diego Nei

    The situation here in Brasil is slowly changing due to RIM’s interest on our market. VIVO Carrier was given a huge subside for the Curve 8520, which now sell as cheap as most of their devices (The device is listed as R$1.600, thou I got it for R$400 – Currency is around $1-R$1,73). It is not VIVO, but RIM strategy for getting a better market share. OI Carrier is also on the move to announce how they will deal with this interest. The other two big carriers, Claro and TIM are somewhat established, thou TIM has to rethink the way they deal data if they want to stay on the market (and if I were RIM, I’d force it as fast as possible).

    The carriers are also starting to offer Light BIS packages: Push Email + IM apps. They are half the price of the full BIS package so could get another bit of market for RIM here.

    As a project manager, choosing the Blackberry was almost a no brainer, but like mentioned on the article, we too lack language support from Docs2Go and many other applications.

    The real deals as I see it are: Will Blackberry software (OS and apps) change enough to get the new markets interested enough? Will Brazilian carriers ‘grow up’ and start offering us cheap enough voice and data plans on par with the technology so it is worthy going for a smartphone? (I pay around $65 for voice and BIS. What that this get you guys?)

  • http://papogp.wordpress.com Diego Nei

    The situation here in Brasil is slowly changing due to RIM’s interest on our market. VIVO Carrier was given a huge subside for the Curve 8520, which now sell as cheap as most of their devices (The device is listed as R$1.600, thou I got it for R$400 – Currency is around $1-R$1,73). It is not VIVO, but RIM strategy for getting a better market share. OI Carrier is also on the move to announce how they will deal with this interest. The other two big carriers, Claro and TIM are somewhat established, thou TIM has to rethink the way they deal data if they want to stay on the market (and if I were RIM, I’d force it as fast as possible).

    The carriers are also starting to offer Light BIS packages: Push Email + IM apps. They are half the price of the full BIS package so could get another bit of market for RIM here.

    As a project manager, choosing the Blackberry was almost a no brainer, but like mentioned on the article, we too lack language support from Docs2Go and many other applications.

    The real deals as I see it are: Will Blackberry software (OS and apps) change enough to get the new markets interested enough? Will Brazilian carriers ‘grow up’ and start offering us cheap enough voice and data plans on par with the technology so it is worthy going for a smartphone? (I pay around $65 for voice and BIS. What that this get you guys?)

  • stephen lee

    White people in metallic rice bowl cap simulating samurai ‘do. A comedian-Yakuza gangster actor sporting a photoshopped Bold in his waving hand. This picture is as Japanese as it gets.

  • stephen lee

    White people in metallic rice bowl cap simulating samurai ‘do. A comedian-Yakuza gangster actor sporting a photoshopped Bold in his waving hand. This picture is as Japanese as it gets.