|Founded||October 1984 as JAPAN TELECOM,
re-branded in April 1994 as J-PHONE,
rebranding in October 2003 as Vodafone Japan KK,
rebranding October 2006 as SOFTBANK Mobile Corp.
|Headquarters||〒105-7317, 1-9-1 Higashi-shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan|
|Key people||Masayoshi Son|
|Services||Yahoo!ケータイ, LTE/TD-LTE, HSPA+, UMTS, DC-HSDPA, and more...|
SoftBank Mobile Corp. (ソフトバンクモバイル株式会社 Sofutobanku Mobairu Kabushikigaisha ), previously as Vodafone K.K. (also known as Vodafone Japan) and J-PHONE, is the mobile phone operator subsidiary of the telecommunications company SoftBank.
Masayoshi Son is CEO and Representative Director.
SoftBank Mobile operates W-CDMA (UMTS 3G) network ("SoftBank 3G"). SoftBank's 3G network is compatible with UMTS and supports transparent global roaming for existing UMTS subscribers from other countries. SoftBank 4G uses TD-LTE / LTE. SoftBank 4G speeds more than 110Mbit/s. SoftBank WiFi Spots are available almost everywhere in Japan.
The company was originally founded in 1981 as the mobile phone division of Japan Telecom under the name Digital Phone (デジタルホン). J-PHONE Co., Ltd. (J-フォン) was formed in 1999 by the merging of Digital Phone Group (DPG, 3 local companies) and Digital TU-KA Group (DTG, 6 local companies, not to be confused with TU-KA). Japan Telecom owned a stake of 45.1%. In October 2001, the British mobile phone group Vodafone increased its share to 66.7% of Japan Telecom and 69.7% of J-Phone. On October 1, 2003, the name of the company and the service brand was officially changed to Vodafone. The growth and success of the company during this period is due in large part to then president Bill Morrow.
On March 17, 2006, Vodafone Group announced it had agreed to sell its holding of Vodafone Japan (Vodafone K.K.) to SoftBank for about 1.75 trillion Japanese yen (approximately US$ 15.1 Billion). On April 14, 2006, SoftBank and Vodafone K. K. jointly announced, that the name of the company will be changed to a "new, easy-to-understand and familiar" company name and brand.
It was announced in a press conference on May 18, 2006 that the new name would be "SoftBank Mobile Corp.", effective October 1, 2006. SoftBank started the rebranding around June 14, 2006.
Services and Market Analysis 
J-PHONE grew steadily for a decade by continuously introducing new services and enhancements such as SkyWalker for PDC, SkyMelody ringtone download, the famous Sha-Mail picture mail introduced on the basis of camera phones developed by SHARP, the mobile multimedia data service J-Sky modeled after NTT DoCoMo's i-mode, and advanced Java services based on JSCL, modeled after NTT DoCoMo's DoJa based i-appli.
However, Vodafone lost customers: In January 2005, Vodafone Japan lost 58,700 customers, and in February 2005, Vodafone Japan lost 53,200 customers (while competitors NTT DoCoMo gained 184,400 customers and au by KDDI gained 163,700 customers, and Willcom gained 35,000).
Vodafone changed the name of its multimedia data services from J-Sky to Vodafone live!, and used J-Sky's principles and technologies and business models to introduce Vodafone live! in Vodafone's other markets. Thus Vodafone live! has its origin in J-Phone's J-Sky.
Vodafone Japan recently changed the page description language of Vodafone live! to the WAP page description language.
While as of February 2005, DoCoMo's FOMA 3G service had attracted 10 million subscribers, and KDDI's 3G service had attracted over 17 million subscribers, Vodafone's 3G service only attracted 527,300 subscribers. Vodafone 3G failed to attract subscribers because Vodafone cut back investments in 3G services in Japan in 2002/3; handsets did not fully match needs and preferences of Japanese customers.
At the end February 2005, Vodafone Japan had 15.1 million customers, and by end of October 2005, the number of subscribers had fallen by 103,100 to 14.996 million, while during the same period NTT-DoCoMo had gained 1.65 million customers and KDDI/AU had gained 1.82 million customers.
At the end of February 2005, Vodafone live! had 12.907 million subscribers in Japan. By end of October 2005 the number of Vodafone live! subscribers had fallen by 138,000 to 12,769,600.
In March 2006, Vodafone began discussing the sale of the Vodafone Japan unit to SoftBank. Vodafone was unable to satisfy customers, as Japanese users tend to have preferences not seen in other markets. Handsets had user interfaces that differed too much from the Japanese interface, and did not have as many features as competing companies. This led to the loss of more customers and Vodafone's decision that the market was no longer profitable.
3G: At the end of October 2005, NTT-DoCoMo had 17.6 million 3G customers, KDDI/AU had 19.8 million 3G customers, and Vodafone-Japan had 1.9 million 3G customers, i.e. Vodafone-Japan gained about 4.8% of Japan's 3G market.
History Timeline 
- 1984-10: JAPAN TELECOM was founded.
- 1986-08: JAPAN TELECOM launches leased circuit services
- 1986-12: RAILWAY TELECOMMUNICATION established
- 1989-05: RAILWAY TELECOMMUNICATION merges with JAPAN TELECOM
- 1991-07: Tokyo Digital Phone established
- 1994-04: J-Phone starts PDC cellular service in the 1.5 GHz band, 10 MHz bandwidth
- 1997-11: J-Phone launches SkyWalker SMS service designed by Aldiscon and Ericsson for PDC
- 1998-11: J-Phone launches SkyMelody ringtone download service
- 1999-12: J-Phone launches J-Sky wireless Internet service ten months after NTT DoCoMo's i-mode, which was launched in February 1999.
- 2000-11: J-Phone launches Sha-Mail (写メール) picture messaging service using the world's first camera phones developed by SHARP
- 2001-06: J-Phone launches Java service with JSCL library
- 2002-12: J-Phone launches W-CDMA 3G service the first time
- 2002-08: Company name was changed to JAPAN TELECOM HOLDINGS.The fixed-line telecommunications business was also separated to found a new JAPAN TELECOM.
- 2003-10: J-Phone company name is changed to Vodafone K.K., and J-Sky name is changed to Vodafone live!. Vodafone launches a Japan-nationwide Beckham campaign
- 2003-12: Company name was changed to Vodafone Holdings K.K.
- 2004-10: Vodafone K.K. merges with Vodafone Holdings K.K. and company name is changed to Vodafone K.K.
- 2004-10: Vodafone relaunches the 3G services in Japan a second time offering mobile phone handsets designed primarily for the European markets
- 2005 Summer: Vodafone changes management and relaunches 3G services in Japan a third time
- 2006-03-17: Vodafone officially announced it had agreed to sell Vodafone Japan (Vodafone KK) to SoftBank for a total of 1.75 trillion Japanese yen (approx US$ 15.1 Billion) in one of the largest M&A transactions in Japan to date
- 2006-04-14: SoftBank and Vodafone K. K. jointly announced, that the name of the company will be changed to a "new, easy-to-understand and familiar" company name and brand. Masayoshi Son became CEO and Representative Director of Vodafone K. K.
- 2006-05-01: Headquarters moved from Atago Hills to Shiodome to integrate operations with other SoftBank group companies
- 2006-05-18: SoftBank announced that the name of the company will be changed to "SoftBank Mobile Corp." effective October 1, 2006
- 2006-06-16: SoftBank started rebranding "Vodafone" to "SoftBank."
- 2006-10-01: Vodafone Japan company name is changed "SoftBank Mobile Corp."
- 2008-06-02: SoftBank Mobile releases iPhone in Japan beating NTT DoCoMo
- 2008-12-09: SoftBank Mobile joins Open Handset Alliance.
- 2009-05-15: SoftBank Mobile joins TransferJet Consortium .
- 2010: Softbank purchased 100% of the PHS mobile operator Willcom.
- 2012-05-29: SoftBank Mobile unveils the Pantone 5 107SH, a mobile phone with a built-in geiger counter.
- http://www.cellular-news.com/story/18440.php "Bill Morrow, Vodafone's turnaround guru, Walks Away", Cellular-news 24 June 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2007
- Chang, Alexandra (29 May 2012). "SoftBank Unveils World’s First Phone With Radiation Detection". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 29 May 2012.