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Friday, Jan. 11, 2013

DoCoMo makes Internet-safe smartphone


Staff writer

NTT DoCoMo Inc. unveiled a new smartphone Thursday designed to shield young customers from hazards lurking on the Internet.

News photo
Coming to a classroom near you: Teen models show off NTT DoCoMo's new smartphone targeting youths around junior high school age in Tokyo's Otemachi district Thursday. KAZUAKI NAGATA

The new SH-05E smartphone, produced by Sharp Corp., prevents the user from accessing harmful websites, limits calls and email messages to sources on a preregistered list, and restricts the types of applications that can be downloaded.

As the smartphone boom expands, the trend is expected to pick up younger consumers as well, many of whom use conventional mobile phones. The new Sharp model addresses those concerns, said Takeshi Saito, director of DoCoMo's marketing division.

"Many kids are interested in using smartphones, but their parents are the ones who make the decisions," Saito said at a news conference in Tokyo. "They are worried about potential troubles from matchmaking sites, children spending too much time on smartphones and the accompanying (surge) in running costs," he said.

The monthly fee for unlimited Internet usage is ¥2,980 for the new model, which is lower than the ¥5,985 charged for adult smartphones. The handset itself is expected to cost around ¥15,000 with the required two-year contract. The phone will hit store shelves early next month.

The phone has a 4.1-inch display and is powered by Google's Android operating system.

To limit the applications that can be used, the new model will not be able to connect with the Google Play store, which will hamper the use of popular social networking programs like Line and Facebook. This will restrict the usable applications to those recommended by DoCoMo.

The phone also has other protective functions, such as a security alarm that automatically calls a registered phone number and transmits the user's location.

In addition, the phone comes with the usual hardware features, including a 12.1 million-pixel camera and an "electronic wallet."

Saito said DoCoMo is aiming to sell 300,000 of the handsets a year.

A survey Benesse Corp. conducted in August on 2,614 parents with kids in elementary, junior high or high school found that about a half of all students in junior high school have cell phones. Roughly 85 percent use conventional mobile phones.



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