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Phone fun in Japan, part deux

CNET News.com reporter checks out what's new in cell phones.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos

TV on cell phones. Five years ago, it sounded like a pastime for the insane, but it's going mainstream. And in Japan, it's actually free. If you buy the right phone, you can get five channels. Softbank is even giving away TV phones for free to new subscribers (and giving away free iPod Nanos too, come to think of it). The carrier makes money only when subscribers click on a link on a commercial on the TV.

KDDI Designing Studio tour

So what's next for phones? The carriers are trying to figure out ways to make you click. In some public places, you'll be able to film a video of yourself, then send the 1MB film to friends across your network. Security systems--i.e. an alarm that sounds off on your phone--are getting popular with parents buying phones for their kids. Designers at KDDI have also come out with a cell phone that can be refilled with a pen filled with methanol. Just don't sit on it and smoke at the same time.

I recently toured KDDI's Designing Studio in Tokyo to check out what's new in phones and more. Here is gallery No. 2. See the first part here.