Japanese mobile phone giant NTT DoCoMo Inc. is appealing to sweet-toothed users with its latest smartphone, which comes in the shape of a bar of chocolate.
Competition is heating up in the smartphone sector here, with DoCoMo unveiling a new flat-rate plan for its subscribers and a super-high-speed next-generation service. That is in response to the recent launches by KDDI Corp. and Softbank Mobile Corp. of Apple Inc.'s iPhone 4S.
And while DoCoMo is pushing its phones' technological abilities strongly -- such as a download speed of 37.5 megabits per second, around 2.6 times faster than its Softbank rival -- it is also looking to cash in on the inestimable cute factor.
DoCoMo has been working with Q-Pot, an accessory brand that takes cakes, sweets and bright colors as its inspirations. The company's collections have included teeth -- incorporated into necklaces, rings and earrings -- as well as chunks of cheese as jewelry. Miniature cakes are turned into brooches and necklaces, while macarons become rings and straps to be attached to a mobile phone.
One of the brand's signature designs, however, is the bar of chocolate.
The Q-Pot Phone SH04D will be just 6cm wide, smaller than most of DoCoMo's standard smartphone models, and will use the Android 2.3 operating system.
To make the phone even more desirable, only 30,000 will be sold, each of which is expected to cost between Y40,000 (€377.90) and Y49,999 (€472.36) and have a two-year contract.
The phone is the first one to have emerged from a partnership between Q-Pot and NTT DoCoMo, although the firm has made other eye-catching designs for its products.
In late 2009, for example, it unveiled a concept phone devised in collaboration with musician Ryuichi Sakamoto that was made of wood. The body of the phone was made of cypress wood that had been treated to make it resistant to water, insects and mold.
More recently, scientists at Japan's Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International and Osaka University teamed up to produce the prototype of a future cell phone, which they have called Elfoid.
The phone resembles a small person with its bodily features simplified so that it can be "capable of being interpreted equally as male or female, old or young," according to the institute, while the gadget's human-shaped exterior is covered with a urethane material that is designed to feel like human skin.
The scientists hope to eventually be able to make the Elfoid's features move in an exact replication of those of the person on the other end of the line.