New technology and business plans are making 3G networks profitable for NTT DoCoMo and other Japanese carriers, as well as for content providers. Powerful terminals, workable billing and rich content all contribute to fast growth. Japanese mobile users can receive media content — news and information in the form of text, images and video — delivered direct to their phones, and they access media while mobile in large numbers. In Part 1 of a story published today on the JMR site, WWJ editor Daniel Scuka delves into the technologies making media content delivery via mobile a reality, including Web, Java, TV, and FM radio. Log on for a review of the highlights. “Japan’s Success in Mobile Media Has Wanna-Be Messages for West”.
It’s a little tough to summarize a 4,000-word story into a concise brief, but here are some of the article’s main points.
First, a number of well thought-out business decisions at the mobile Web’s early stages have made all the difference to the ultimate success of the wireless Internet in general and media content (news, headlines, weather, images, etc.) distribution in particular. These include the Japanese carriers having decided to make their wireless Internets (intranets?) open platforms, and having chosen arbitrarily low packet fees.
Further, there is little doubt that Japanese mobile users — the average i-moder in the street — are accessing media content. In a July 2003 survey, Tokyo-based mobile ad agency D2 Communications found that about 84 percent of i-mode users subscribed to some form of mobile news service. Some media content providers are making significant revenues on their mobile channels.
Finally, the story posits that responsibility for much of the success of mobile media distribution can be attributed to the terminals — which are among the world’s best. Sharp’s just-released SH900i 3G handset (NTT DoCoMo) features a 2.4-inch (320-by-240 dot) 262,144-color QVGA (quarter VGA) liquid crystal display, with resolution equivalent to a PC monitor from just a few years ago. It also has a 2.02-megapixel autofocus CCD camera, a 64-tone audio processor, a removable miniSD Card slot, and predictive text input. E-mail messages can handle image and video attachments and deliver up to 5,000 characters.
Part 1 of the story (published today) goes on to explain how technologies such as Web, Java, analog TV, and FM radio are being exploited by media owners to provide incredibly useful media services to mobile users. Part 2 (to be published in about a week) looks at future tech developments, including digital TV and what might just prove to be a 3G-killer: digital broadcast (TV, audio, data) direct from satellite to portable devices, due to start 1 July 2004.
Needless to say, no licensed-spectrum 3G carriers are involved in this one, or at least, no Japanese licensed-spectrum 3G carriers are involved. SK Telekom from Korea is (partnered with Toshiba, who is also building the first consumer terminals), possibly proving not that combo-satellite-and-cellular media distribution are incompatible as a valid business but that Japan’s carriers are just too slow to innovate.
Access the complete story at the Japan Media Review site.
— Daniel Scuka
NOTE: The JMR story was also (well) written by the above author.