Java on J-Phone: The Fine Grind of Mobile Computing

Java on J-Phone: The Fine Grind of Mobile ComputingJava continues to be one of mobile Japan’s little-told success stories. We drop by J-Phone/Vodafone to find out who’s using Java, how “applis” are loaded onto the portal, and how “desktop” applications function. Already, Java content providers are focusing on the desktop appli as a way to capture and maintain new subscribers, since the always-on functionality tends to drive loyalty. We also get a live demo of downloading and running Java games. There’s an ecosystem brewing here, and the aroma is pure success. Wireless marketing heads everywhere: Pay Attention!

J-Phone Tells All! Well… a Whole Bunch, Anyway…

For the past several weeks, WWJ has been emailing J-Phone to set up an interview for our video newsmagazine. We finally settled on a date, and they asked us to submit our outline questions. J-Phone PR’s Matthew Nicholson responded to some of these earlier this week, and herewith we present a summary of his comments, wherein J-Phone reveals (almost all) about brand image, “plastic” roaming, and handling spam mail.

Europe's i-mode a Bust for Japanese Content Plays?

“Take a look at this list,” says Arjen van Blokland, pointing to the top ten i-mode site listing at “Not one of them is Japanese,” states Arjen in a voice that betrays evident relief that didn’t get involved in European i-mode. He asks, Where’s Cybird?, illustrating that fact that the Japanese content producers and aggregators — like Cybird, Index, MTI, and others — have seen signal unsuccess at penetrating the baby i-modes overseas. He may have a good point — given that it should have been the Japanese that taught the rest of the i-mode world how to do content right.

Paying Heavy 2G Users to Stay Happy Just a Little Longer

But the most significant hidden news in this announcement may just be the fact that there are 300,000-plus extremely heavy data users already using i-mode. This means that DoCoMo has a captive, willing audience already on hook that is ripe for targeted migration to 3G. And it would appear that this audience has been woefully underexploited — FOMA had just 127,400 users on July 31. Looks like Big D will slash i-mode transmission fees on both the 2G and 3G networks starting September 1.. OK — maybe the reduction isn’t exactly a “slash,” since the 2G rate will only go from 0.3 yen per packet (128 bytes) to 0.2 yen per packet, and this reduction will only be applied after the first 100,000 packets (i.e. the first 30,000 yen of transmission fees).

600,000 Java Users Can't Be All Wrong

600,000 Java Users Can't Be All WrongG-mode was set up in 2001 for the sole purpose of creating Java games for wireless. They say they’ve sold 63 million downloads since then, and their games are played 250,000 times per day. This is the first mobile content provider we’ve ever met that claims made-in-Japan games can be exported overseas, despite the barriers of language and culture. Considering that Tetris — known globally — has no text, they just could be right.

When Japanese Carriers Buy Content

At lunch today, I almost choked on my okonomiyaki. But it wasn’t the fried noodles, vegetables, bits of squid, or pancake-like dough that comprise this Hiroshima delicacy (only rarely reproduced with any satisfaction in the Tokyo area) that caused my trouble; it was an involuntary reaction to my lunch-mate’s comment that DoCoMo looks like it’s becoming “a media company.” Whew!! Regular readers of this newsmagazine will know that one of my themesin the past couple of issues has been how Big D is morphing from an engineering-centric technology company into a media player, just like one-time ISP AOL has.

DoCoMo's Hidden 9 Percent

Neale contacted DoCoMo IR, who helped clarify where the 9 percent lives in DoCoMo accounts. In the English version of the Consolidated Financial Statements (8 May 2002), under “(2) Consolidated Statements of Income” (page 16), there’s a section titled, “Operating income from other businesses.” This includes the 9 percent (Aha!!), and amounted to 45,272 million yen in FY2002.


Can NANCY Beat MPEG?Does MPEG 4 have the wireless video industry all wrapped up.. Maybe not.

J-Phone is using the NANCY codec for Movie Sha Mail, and this week we visited Office Noa, the company that developed NANCY and hear their CEO plans to beat MPEG at its own game.

Ringtones Sound like $$$$

Ringtones Sound like $$$$On the mobile Internet, money sounds like… ringtones!! We talk to Java music developer (& editor of J@pan Inc Music Media Watch newsletter) Steve Myers about audio formats.

We also got to preview a new Java musical game, and learned how much money is being made (a lot).