On October 3 of last year, Napster Japan launched the first online music subscription service in Japan with an 'all-you-can-eat' model - allowing subscribers to download and play as much music as they like for a flat monthly fee. Accompanied by a massive marketing campaign featuring oversized bar-code poster ads, the Napster Japan launch attracted a great deal of attention and media coverage. When the company announced that over 2 million songs had been 'shifted' (downloaded for playing) in the first week after launch, it looked as though Napster might well be on track to replace iTunes as Japan's most popular online music service. So how have the first six months gone for Japan's first and (so far) only online subscription music service?
This article by the Asahi Shimbun, stating that KDDI will launch services on Sprint Nextels network, has created alot of buzz across the web in the last 24hrs. According to that story the company "... has obtained a business license to serve as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in 49 of the 50 U.S. states". While of course it makes perfect sense to us for KDDI to consider how they might port the lessons learned here into other developing markets, the details provided from this original source raised more questions than they answered. The Asahi quotes un-named officials, no announcement appears on either of the carriers websites, saying that "KDDI Mobile" will begin offering full-scale services in the U.S. by mid-April.
The Telecommunication Carriers Assoc. (TCA) released their official updated Japan mobile subscriber details (see graphic on our left nav.) for the month ending March 2007. While we had mentioned several times recently that March is the traditional handset replacement month, even WWJ was impressed to see the volume of activity achieved. KDDI's AU brand continued to show the way with a net increase of 530,000 while DoCoMo, with their latest models line-up becoming more widely available, added a respectable 298,000 new contracts. SoftBank Mobile reported a total gain of 127,000 compared to only 63,000 year-on-year for March 2006 when the company was still running as Vodafone. By far the most interesting numbers relate to the continued migration towards 3G.
DoubleClick Japan recently announced they have aquired a domestic mobile CMS integration service provider, Mo-on, without releasing specific terms of the deal. Nextway Co. Ltd designed this ASP service, which provides a web browser-based system complete with various admin. tools, so small to medium sized companies could easily build and maintain new mobile website offerings. According to their press release, the division posted ¥526mln in sales FYE 2006 with ¥18mln profit and noted that the business transfer date is scheduled for October 1st, 2007.
The rumor mills are swirling again about the long storied dream evolution of Sony porting their popular PlayStation Portable brand to a next-gen. handset. We picked-up this article posted on a Spanish blog suggesting an 'Insiders Report' claimed the device is actually in the works. While would not be surprised it would be better to dig a more qualified source. That being said, in fact WWJ had pondered the concept in June 2006 with our Viewpoint "Gaming Set to Repeat Mobile Music Success", basically stating not if but when.
Paul Golding at Wireless Wanders posted an interesting op-ed about the hype surrounding mobile 2.0. While it's clear that he's looking at this from a Euro/US perspective - especially on the device side - however, we have no doubt there are some valid points contained therein. At the same time it should be also noted that Impress R&D (div. of the major Tokyo-based publisher) released a book last summer called Mobile 2.0 [in Japanese] which would likely shed a little more light on what is actually possible, at least in Japan.
We're thrilled to see Walt Disney Japan step into the mobile social networking space in March with this announcement [in Japanese only] for their public launch -- on all three carriers' official portals -- of Wonder Days. In the most simple terms it looks very much like Habbo Hotel meets Mickey Mouse, however you need not take our word for it.. watch WWJ's first-to-web video demo. and see for yourself!
It's no surprise that many of the popular and established fixed-line service offerings have been making the leap onto Japan's wireless web. Tokyo-based DeNA has several perfect examples for auctions and social networking
The recent round of international press devoted to ‘the next big thing for mobile’ has an interesting, and recurring, theme. It started with a fair amount of mainstream media attention devoted to the statements made at CTIA during Visa’s keynote address regarding the evolution of mobile payments. Around the same time we notice that Capt. Kirk went boldly where no ex-pat Canadian would dare go (Toronto in March) to attend this presser with Ted Rogers promoting a new fangled mobile web-cam handset, which the company breathlessly hailed as “a landmark in wireless communications”.
We also noticed this special op-ed from Card Technology about how Sony is potentially challenged to get their m-commerce product outside of Japan. The a
Japan Radio Company and Runcom Technologies have completed the development of WiMAX base station equipment and user terminals and jointly demonstrated the highest throughput ever achieved over Mobile WiMAX networks at the recent CTIA Conference. Based on an advanced version of the IEEE802.16e-2005 standard, operating at 2.5GHz, they achieved a record throughput of 30 megabits per second.
We've noticed an unusually agressive ad campaign for the new P903iTV phone from Panasonic over the last few weeks. This latest handset, which was released in late February as the follow-up to the Japan's original 1Seg. digital tv debut unit for DoCoMo, touts an improved "vibrant screen" display. Like Sony with the Bravia line or Sharp's trendsetting Aquos brand before them, Panasonic has based this product on the same "PEAKS" processor technology used with their home television offering. Check-out this video from their website which is running here in prime-time TV slots.
>Mobikyo K.K. publishes Wireless Watch Japan, organizes MobileMonday Tokyo networking events and operates Mobile Intelligence study tours providing related custom research and advisory services. Mobikyo's founding directors are deeply connected with, respected by, and committed to, Japan's wireless and IT business community. Thousands of managers, planners, engineers and strategists depend on Mobikyo to learn about Japan's unique business models, technologies, contents, services, applications and hardware from the most innovative test-bed market for next-generation mobile industry. "Mobikyo" was chosen for the unique blending of Mobile and Tokyo. However, depending on the kanji character used for kyo, it could also mean association, capital, religion or today. With fantastic support from our clients, partners and affiliates in Japan and overseas, we have become the trusted source of independent market intelligence & business networking connections based in Tokyo.
MobileMonday Tokyo is a leading networking organization supporting Tokyo's mobile industry. We launched in September 2004, with over 70 events to-date, hosting an average 100-200 industry delegates. MobileMonday is an open platform for mobile industry visionaries, developers and industry insiders fostering cooperation and business development through live networking events to share ideas, best practices and trends from global markets. Chapters are active in over 100 cities worldwide and new locations continue to launch monthly. Founded in Helsinki, Finland, in 2000, MobileMonday is organized by a global team of 300+ volunteers and it has become the world's largest mobile community network. Details via MoMo Tokyo website
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