The Making of the Camera Phone: How Japan's Mobile and Optics Technologies are Converging

JETS Research Paper, 2004

42 Pages Posted: 10 May 2007

See all articles by Patricia A. Nelson

Patricia A. Nelson

Senior Research Fellow, European Institute of Japanese Studies, Stockholm School of Economics

Date Written: February 2004

Abstract

In November 2000, Vodaphone (then J-Phone) introduced the world's first camera phone made by Sharp. It was an instant hit with Japanese youth. At the time, Vodaphone was Japan's number three service provider trailing the market leader DoCoMo, run by NTT, and the second place service provider au, run by KDDI. Sharp was also a market follower in the mobile handset market. Wanting to enter the market with a splash, they came up with the camera phone idea. It was so successful that experts predicted by 2005, nearly all phones sold in Japan would be camera phones. This study addresses the question: what forces led to the creation of the camera phone in Japan? Why did Sharp and Vodaphone think that the camera phone would work? I suggest that there were at least two factors at play that aided the success of the camera phone: first, Japan is a nation of gadgets and second Japan is a nation of photographers. These two factors made it possible for the camera phone to emerge and then to succeed in Japan. This study identifies an important tension in the industry that was likely to persist into the foreseeable future: the tension between the demands for continuous technological improvement and minimal size and weight.

Keywords: camera phone, mobile phone, technological change, telecommunications, optics, Japan

JEL Classification: L10, L21, L23, L63, L86, L96, O32, O33,

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Patricia A., The Making of the Camera Phone: How Japan's Mobile and Optics Technologies are Converging (February 2004). JETS Research Paper, 2004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=985241 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.985241

Patricia A. Nelson (Contact Author)

Senior Research Fellow, European Institute of Japanese Studies, Stockholm School of Economics ( email )

Saltmätargatan 19C
P O Box 6501
Stockholm, SE-113 83
Sweden

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