BusinessWeek posted a good op-ed, by Kenji Hall, about the Manga for Mobile market niche in Japan. WWJ has been covering this evolution ever since Mobidec back in 2004 [video here] and it’s nice to see the concept is finally starting to get some air-time overseas. Manga is a natural content to port for wireless devices here and obviously this simple concept to render text and images, for whatever print media is popular in any given region, makes sense. Note; we also had a fantastic presentation from Digital Garage at Mobile Monday Tokyo in Feb. 2006.
The number of sites has exploded from a handful back in 2004 to more than 300 today. Officials estimate there are about 10,000 stories available and that hundreds more are being added every month. Last year, Japanese consumers spent an estimated $20 million to view manga on handsets, according to Tokyo research firm Impress R&D. Manga now accounts for half the books that publishers sell for cell phones.
The average e-comics buyer spends roughly $15 a month, buying up several episodes. For an episode that runs about 10 pages, consumers pay anywhere from 25¢ (in black-and-white) to $1 (color). That’s roughly comparable to the thick weekly magazines, which normally have 10 episodes per issue and sell for around $3.
What may not be immediately clear from that article is that Flash enabled handsets play a key role for the current offering. However, Nokia has aprox. 20 handsets with Flash pre-installed and also provides a free Flash-lite download for S60 devices. So it would seem likely that we will start to see that platform functionality becoming more widely available – as we have had in Japan since 2004 – for users (and content owners) in global markets.
Update: Speaking of Manga for Mobile, in global markets, check-out the ComiIdol 2007 Contest!