Mobile operator NTT DoCoMo has taken one step ahead its competitors who sell the iPhone in Japan, when it announced a new voice-based virtual personal assistant service for its smartphone-using customers. The same type of service is offered by Apple to its iPhone 4 users in other countries, but has not yet been launched in Japan.
Apple’s own virtual personal assistant service, called Siri, is rumored to be soon launched in Japan through the two operators that sell iPhone 4, Softbank and KDDI.
NTT DoCoMo, which does not carry the iPhone in Japan, has however jumped in first and launched its own rival application, called Shabette Concier.
The new service is a voice-activated user interface that enables customers to intuitively and directly operate services and smartphone features with voice commands, NTT DoCoMo said. “In response to a verbal question, for example, the app analyzes the inquiry and then provides an answer using information mined from leading content providers.”
This type of applications usually offers services like finding recommendations for nearby restaurants, setting reminders or getting directions.
Telecom analysts are now wondering whether the new application will be functional enough to make prospective clients choose NTT DoCoMo’s phones and services instead of buying an iPhone sold by Softbank or KDDI.