Japan’s 3G networks enable new types of high-bandwidth mobile content that weren’t viable under 2G for either economic or technical reasons. One of the coolest is mobile manga, delivering full-color comic book magazines to cell phones. There’s a manga stuffed in every Japanese commuter’s back pocket (together with a ketai), so porting manga to keitai could make an awful lot of money for content producers. It’ll also save a bunch of trees. Wireless Watch Japan was at Mobidec 2004 recently held in Tokyo and files this sneak preview from Digital Garage Mobile’s booth.
Program Run-time 3:00 – Coded for broadband connections only.
As of May 2003, the Mobile Contents Forum claimed 181 member companies and the list reads like a Who’s Who of Japan’s mobile revolution, including familiar names such as NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, Cybird, Index, and many others.
While the organization itself may not be that active (at least, its Web site is rarely updated), its annual Mobidec conference does draw a lot of people into Tokyo’s Aoyama Diamond Hall.
Content developers want to know what the carriers and terminal makers have up their sleeves, and those two want to know what the developers are working on. Mobidec is, in fact, a perfect snapshot of the mutually interdependent ecosystem that has spawned the mobile Internet.
Sadly, Mobidec occurs entirely in Japanese and no simultaneous translation is provided — as is usually the case with at least some portions of most other showcase events. As a result, covering Mobidec for WWJ is a challenge since it’s tough to find company reps who’ll go on-camera in English.
Nonetheless, we grabbed some excellent footage of Celsys’s ComicSurfing Version 2.0 manga book-reader application, demonstrated on KDDI/Au’s third-generation “WIN” handsets.
WWJ votes mobile manga as the content category most likely to rake in the big bucks as 3G unfolds. It’s an already hugely popular entertainment media; there are manga produced for all ages, all genres, and all demographics, including kids, teens, house moms, and salarymen. There are also a great many — inevitably — adult manga (which are openly and nonchalantly read on crowded commuter trains; go figure!).
My personal choice for most weird manga are the “alternate history” story lines that speculate, for example, what would have happened if Japan had won WWII.
In any event, manga are huge in Japan and becoming more so overseas, especially in the rest of Asia. Any mobile ecosystem player who gets into this content category early stands a good chance of establishing a rich slice of market share. And companies — like Celsys — that produce the enabling tools will likely profit even more.
— Daniel Scuka