SHARP Blog

Sharp Starts “J-STAY” Smartphone Rental Service for Companies Accepting Foreign Technical Interns

September 6, 2018

Foreign Technical Internship is an official program where Japanese companies employ foreigners who seek to learn skills in Japan. The companies utilize their work force while the foreigner learn skills through actual work, and return to their home country to contribute to the growth of economy.

Sharp has started a new smartphone rental service “J-STAY” targeting such companies who accept foreign interns. What kind of service is this? What is the significance of this service? We interviewed Mr. Yoshimura and Mr. Kishi from the After Service Supervision Department in our Telecommunications Unit who were involved in the planning and development of this service.

 

Mr. Yoshimura (left), Mr. Kishi (right)

 

Please explain how this rental service works between the accepting companies and interns.

Kishi: This is a service where we rent our smartphone with SIM for companies accepting interns. The companies then rent this to the interns. Since the contract is signed between Sharp and the companies, the interns only need to apply to their accepting companies prior to coming to Japan and can receive and start using the smartphones immediately.

*SIM for data telecommunication only. Installation of other apps are required to realize vocal calls.

 

Why did you start this service?

Kishi: The number of interns coming to Japan are continuing to increase. We forecast over 600 thousand interns will be working in Japan by 2020. Under such circumstance, we wanted to contribute in some way, and we researched by talking with companies and hearing opinion from interns. As a result, we learned that interns are reluctant to contract smartphones individually under a foreign environment, and they had the demand to use devices in their own native languages. Meanwhile, the accepting companies wanted to deepen their communication with interns and help support their learning with tools. This is where we came up with the idea to provide a service unique to Sharp.

 

Yoshimura: Using the “J-STAY” system, the accepting companies can contact interns on emergencies and send announcements at once, which helps deepen communication while improving work efficiency. Education support using e-learning is effective as well. Interns need to pass a basic examination after one year of their stay in order to move on the next 2 years of internship, so learning related knowledge and becoming fluent in Japanese is an important step. J-STAY will help support such growth.

Kishi: For interns, such support for their examination is important too, but also I believe it will help support easy communication with their families in their native land and other colleagues in Japan. I mentioned the issue that interns want to use devices in their native language, and we studied and learned that interns come mainly from Vietnam, China, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.

Therefore, J-STAY corresponds to 8 languages (Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Tagalog, Thai, Portuguese, English and Japanese). We checked the display does not appear awkward even to the native people’s eyes, and we asked our software development team to correspond while requesting native speakers to check the display to improve the contents.

 

Display in Chinese and Japanese

 

How did you decide the model, service content and pricing etc?

Yoshimura: We carried out questionnaires to learn how smartphones are used, how much data capacity is required, and what pricing range will be affordable and such. We adopted our AQUOS sense lite(SH-M05)model which has rich functions but is relatively affordable price range. Also since we applied a rental system this time, no initial costs occur and individual contract is unnecessary. I believe we have able to create a unique service that interns will be satisfied with as well.

Specifically what is unique of this service to Sharp?

Kishi: The point that we provide the device with SIM and maintenance service as a 3-in-1 service is unique to Sharp. Other companies provide SIM only, but Sharp is the only company so far that provides this together with a device along with a 3-year rental plan.

Why do you think other companies do not provide similar services?

Yoshimura: It may be difficult for one company to cover all such services. Sharp manufactures the smartphone device and also has sections that provide maintenance service. We also have the experience of providing SIM through MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) business, enabling us to realize this J-STAY service. The idea to rent the device to save initial cost was realized by utilizing the rental scheme we have as a company through document systems.

 

 

I see. The corporate philosophy to collaborate the strength of each business as “One SHARP” is truly realized in this service. How did you apply your personal experience?

Yoshimura: I have experienced service related work such as network maintenance, setting up call centers for B2B, and smartphone repair services etc. I believe my knowledge and skills from such experiences helped me in this project. However, there were many cases where I felt the importance of collaboration as well. We need to handle product shipment this time, but I experienced many difficulties here. I was able to realize this part thanks to the cooperation of other departments expertizing in this field.

Kishi: I was appointed to this department immediately after I joined Sharp. I experienced quality control in the first years, and since then, I have been in charge of establishing service systems of new products. I am always required to take on new challenges, and I needed to study a lot, but such experiences helped me in the startup of J-STAY as well. There were many challenges along the way, but with the support of many people, we have been able to realize this service.

 

 

So J-STAY is the result of your passion and teamwork with others. How was the reaction since the press release in Japan on May 24?

Yoshimura: I was happy to receive contact from some companies that proposed to carry out this business together. I also received many inquiries for details and actual plans to adopt this service. Some gave us specific requirements, and I learned the high interest from these parties.

 

And now as the service has been launched, please let us know your comments.

Yoshimura: I believe interns coming to Japan will continue to increase. The name J-STAY represents our thought to help support the interns during their stay in Japan to communicate with their friends and family to help them concentrate on their study in Japan. I hope our unique service will increase the satisfaction of accepting companies and interns, leading to contribution to the society.

 

Kishi: I am looking forward to see foreigners actually using Sharp’s smartphones through this J-STAY service I was involved in designing.

 

―Thank you.

 

I imagined myself being a foreigner, alone visiting Japan as an intern… and if I came across a smartphone service that I did not have to contract by myself and enjoy its use in my native language, I would definitely like to use it. Members in different fields within Sharp such as manufacturing, software development, and maintenance service all work toward the same ultimate purpose – to make our customers happy. Thinking that efforts from various members came together as One SHARP this time to create a new satisfaction and contribution to the society made me feel proud as a member of Sharp and motivated me at the same time.

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