While a slowdown in new announcements can be expected during the upcoming shogatsu New Year holiday period, 2003 promises to provide even more activity now that UK-based Vodafone has launched a 3G network in Japan and is expected to seek know-how and technology from Japan for its operations elsewhere. Further, Japanese software developers are sure to continue looking outside this country’s near-saturated market for new sales opportunities.
This fall has seen a round of press announcements and new deals inked between Japanesemobile software companies and foreign wireless players, indicating a growing trend oftraditionally domestic-focused companies heading overseas for sales and development. TheJapanese partners’ technology falls into the mobile content, applications, or servicescategories, and these companies appear to have struck deals on the strength of experienceearned at home since the start of Japan’s wireless Internet in 1999.
The deals include:
- September (CeBIT Asia trade show, Shanghai): China’s largest carrier, China Mobile, said it would launch a mobile video e-mail service over its existing GSM/GPRS network using the “Nancy” codec, developed by Tokyo-based Office Noa Inc. The Nancy codec is real-time video compression/decompression (codec) software that can be used to provide full-color video at up to 30 frames per second. The codec is used in Japan by J-Phone Co.’s “Movie Sha-Mail” video mail system (see the WWJ video report on Office Noa here ).
- October: Namco Co., Taito Co., and G-mode Co. were signed up by Vodafone to provide game content software for that carrier’s Vodafone live!, a 2.5G wireless Internet service that offers colour-display handsets, picture-based services, downloadable games and ringtones, and access to Web content – highly similar to i-mode. The three Japanese firms will each provide five titles initially, including some of the most famous games ever to come out of Japan – including Pacman (Namco), and Space Invaders (Taito); it costs about 3 euros to download each game.
- November: 104.com said that it had inked a deal with Orange, the UK’s largest mobile operator, to provide 104.com’s “Xme” (Kiss me) mobile applications platform to Orange group companies. No value for the deal was announced, but over the next six months the agreement should see Orange subscribers in several European markets accessing mobile content – including multimedia applications – that is managed and served via Japan-developed software.
While a slowdown in new announcements can be expected during the upcoming ‘shogatsu’New Year holiday period, 2003 promises to provide even more activity now that UK-basedVodafone has launched a 3G network in Japan (through its local group company, J-Phone) andis expected to seek know-how and technology from Japan for its operations elsewhere.Further, Japanese software developers are sure to continue looking outside this country’snear-saturated market for new sales opportunities.
– Daniel Scuka