Viao is planning to launch its own smartphones in Japan on Friday, according to a Wall Street Journal article by Takashi Mochizuki. The Viao Phone will run on an Android 5.0 OS, and will middle of the standard pricing range at about $420 USD.
For now at least, the Viao Phone is only going to be sold through Japan Communications, a new “mobile virtual network operator” that the Japanese government is promoting as an alternative to the standard telecom companies in the country, which generally charge higher prices. As in many other countries dominated by large telecom cellular providers, those in Japan tend to offer the smartphones from the prestige end of the market spectrum, such as Apple’s iPhones.
The Viao Phone arrives at a time when cheapening technology costs are allowing a flood of smartphones to enter the market and compete aggressively with hitherto dominant brands. Samsung has lost considerable market share to these upstarts, which increasingly feature fairly advanced technology such as biometric fingerprint scanners (though this does not appear to be the case with the Viao Phone).
For its part, early reviews are indicating the Viao Phone is pretty standard as these things go. But given it’s pricing and its position in the Japanese telecommunications landscape, that could be all that it needs to be.