From the Tokyo Game Show, in which long-time Tokyo mobile entrepreneur Neeraj Jhanji, builder of the first (and probably only) IM i-mode client for AOL, provides WWJ subscribers with an exclusisve look at his Until Now Very Quiet Plans (indeed, a working demo) to create a mobile version of the globally überpopular Habbo Hotel community service… er… site… or whatever it is. OK — it’s a networking community for digierati burnt out on traditional RPG shooters. In any event, Habbo’s mobile potential is huge (we think) and Neeraj is likely one of the few who can make it happen. Full program Run-time: 10:22
At first glance, Habbo Hotel may be the sort of overly complex, community-thingy site that makes Sim City look simple as Lego. But it’s not that complicated and in fact is kinda fun once you get into it.
Habbo’s demographics extend to a much wider gender range than Metal Gear or Quake; PC Web Habbo has 300,000 users in Japan (and some 15 million globally, according to Jhanji). Surely there should be a mobile version in Japan? Well there isn’t — yet. Jhanji is trying to fix that and has a working demo (see today’s video — a WWJ exclusive).
In today’s vid ‘view, Jhanji talks about many of the pokey-chest points near and dear to WWJ’s heart: “[Mobile] Japan is more important than a lot of other Asian markets,” and “We are waiting for packet prices to come down.” They already are: KDDI has bi-level “Double Flat”-tiered flat pricing, making packet-intensive, multi-player network gaming affordable for the masses.
And the masses will, without a doubt, want to do Habbo Hotel via mobile. And when they do, think of the significant (and growing) virtual-value market for digital accoutrements (swords, cloaks, battleaxes, etc.) stemming from games like Everquest that could be created from mobile gaming communities. And 3G in Japan (almost 22 million users on KDDI & DoCoMo at last count) is making bigger Java downloads and flat-rate data — the dual sin qua non for Jhanji — possible.
Once again, another great content category that a local developer is boosting into a money-making service. Yes, DoCoMo-AOL (Jhanji’s most memorable mobile development foray to date) is dead; but without that experience — Java development, network latencies, handset customization — Jhanji couldn’t do what he’s doing now.
And the ultimate commercial version of Habbo Hotel for mobile may look nothing like the demo we show you today. But with $800 per day in sales of piddly, community digital goods (virtual funiture for your virtual room in which to entertain not-so-virtual fellow players or player-esses) on the PC Web version, he’s got lots of motivation to make the mobile version into… something.
If, ultimately, we have no conclusion for today’s program it’s because mobile Habbo is a work in progress and we’re showing you the future unfolding in Real-Time.
And, as Jhanji, one of our favorite mobipreneurs, states: “Enjoy your work.”
— Daniel Scuka