MMW-45 -- The Latest in Mobile Audio: DoCoMo Unveils 505i Series

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J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
M U S I C M E D I A W A T C H
Commentary on the week's music technology news
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Issue No. 45
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Tokyo

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CONTENTS

++ FEATURE: The Latest in Mobile Audio: DoCoMo Unveils 505i Series

++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS:
** Dwango Launches 3D-Phonic Ringtone Service
** Loudeye Partners with DMI in Japanese Online Music Market
** MusicNet Offers Songs in Windows Media Format
** Sony Offers Online Music in UK

============================= EVENT ==================================
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======================================================================

++ FEATURE: The Latest in Mobile Audio: DoCoMo Unveils 505i Series

Despite some longer-than-usual delays, NTT DoCoMo is now well into the
process of launching its 505i series of phones for i-mode in Japan. So
far, the Mitsubishi and Sony models have been released, and the
remaining models (from NEC, Fujitsu, Panasonic and Sharp) are expected
out in the next few weeks. While much of the attention surrounding the
505i has centered around improvements in screen resolution and
graphics, the new models also feature many improvements in sound and
audio as well.

505i General Sound Features
With the exception of Sony's release, all of the new 505i models
feature increased polyphony, ranging from 48 to 64 simultaneous
voices. Ringtones can be up to 20K in size (actually a carrier
restriction to conserve bandwidth), and all of the models support
stereo sound and ADPCM data. The official sound format for the 505i
models is MFi 3.1, though files using earlier versions of the format
can also be played. Sony and NEC will continue to use FM sound
generation chips from Yamaha, while the remaining 505i makers,
including newcomer Sharp, appear to have opted for Rohm's PCM-based
sound.

First Out: Mitsubishi and Sony
Mitsubishi managed to bring the first 505i to market at the end of
May, followed by Sony in the first week of June. In terms of audio
capability, these models feature only slight improvements over their
504i predecessors. Mitsubishi increased its polyphony to 48 voices of
PCM (two of which can be sound effects or voice-type data). The PCM
instrument sounds seem a little more "real" when compared to
Mitsubishi's 504i model, which is probably due to an upgrade in the
sound generation chip. The sound of the Sony 505i, on the other hand,
is virtually identical to its 504i model, without much noticeable
increase in polyphony or sound quality.

Still to Come: Sharp, NEC, Fujitsu and Panasonic
In contrast to Mitsubishi and Sony, it appears that the other 505i
manufacturers are aiming to make up for their release delays by
providing more new features, including audio improvements. While
details are not publicly available, expectations are high for some of
these upcoming releases. Some of the new features that have been
rumored to appear include "3D surround sound" capability (NEC),
64-voice PCM (Sharp and Fujitsu) and the ability to use larger music
files within some Java applications. At the same time, though, there
have also been reports of bugs in the handsets that cause problems for
ringtone-related Java applications, and it is still unclear whether
these will be fixed before the handsets are released.

Content Providers Scramble
Similar to the situation we saw in the spring of last year, most
Japanese ringtone providers are now extremely busy trying to adapt
their content for the new 505i models. This includes not only the
modification of existing ringtones to take advantage of the increased
polyphony of the 505i, but also the adaptation of existing Java
applications (i-applis) for the new models. Virtually all of the major
providers have at least a trial-listening and a karaoke application,
and some have many more applis, including musical games and programs
for music composition, arrangement and education. While there are
hopes that the 505i will eventually allow for more powerful and
innovative mobile music software, for now it seems that most providers
have their hands full just making their current programs work on the
new models.

-- Steve Myers

Link:
"Development of Non-karaoke Mobile Music is Slow but Under Way" 04/03
http://www.japaninc.net/article.php?articleID=1054

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++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS

** Dwango Launches 3D-Phonic Ringtone Service

In Brief: On June 11, Tokyo-based Dwango began a new service featuring
melody and voice ringtones in 3D-phonic surround-sound. The service is
targeted at users of phones equipped with two speakers, such as the
J-K51 model from J-Phone. The service uses compression technology that
was co-developed by DiMagic and Cell.

Source:
Nikkei Biztech
http://neasia.nikkeibp.com/wcs/leaf?CID=onair/asabt/news/251218

Link:
"The Art of Killing Time Online," from Feb. 2003
http://www.japaninc.net/article.php?articleID=1018

============================= EVENT =================================
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A presentation about "Guerrilla Marketing", Jay Conrad Levinson's
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unconventional means --without spending a lot of money.
Wednesday July 2nd, City Club of Tokyo.
www.ea-tokyo.com E-mail: info@ea-tokyo.com
======================================================================

** Loudeye Partners with DMI in Japanese Online Music Market

In Brief: Seattle-based Loudeye announced on Monday that it had signed
a "multi-year, seven-figure" technology licensing and distribution
agreement with Digital Music Initiative (DMI), one of Japan's largest
online music and video providers. The agreement will allow DMI to
offer a broadband content service to its Japanese partners, which
include Toshiba EMI, KDDI and NTT Communications.

Source:
Yahoo!
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/030616/sfm082_1.html

============================= EVENT ==================================
ICA Special Event on Project Management - June 19, 18:30

PRESENTER: Jim (Coach) Hunter, Senior Partner, PMP-Japan
TOPIC: Managing Process Improvement Projects:
Using advanced project management methodologies.

Location - Foreign Correspondents' Club, Yurakucho Denki Building,
Cost: 3,500 yen (members) 6,000 yen (non-members), Dinner included

To attend please RSVP on our sign-up page at:
http://www.icajapan.jp/signup.html
For more details visit
http://www.icajapan.jp/
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** MusicNet Offers Songs in Windows Media Format

In Brief: MusicNet, the joint venture between AOL Time Warner,
RealNetworks, Bertelsmann and EMI, announced last Thursday that it
would begin offering music files in Microsoft's Windows Media 9
format, thus making it the first online music provider to offer songs
in multiple formats.

Source:
MSNBC
http://www.msnbc.com/news/925212.asp?0cv=CB10&cp1=1

** Sony Offers Online Music in UK

In Brief: Sony Music announced on Monday that it would make its top
artists' songs available online for pay downloads in the UK, making it
the last major record company to enter the European market. Sony's
songs will be distributed through the digital media technology company
OD2 and its partners. At present, the arrangement is limited to
distribution in the UK only, but OD2 is said to be negotiating to
extend the service to other European countries as well. With Sony's
music, OD2 now holds the online distribution rights to more than
200,000 songs.

Source:
C-Net
http://news.com.com/2100-1027-1017346.html

Link:
"Sony Tries to Revive Troubled Aiwa Brand," from March 2003
http://www.japaninc.net/article.php?articleID=1032

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STAFF
Written by: Steve Myers (steve@thetamusic.com)
Steve Myers is president and chief enthusiast of Theta Music
Technologies, which specializes in the development of music-related
software applications.

Edited by J@pan Inc editors: (editors@japaninc.com)

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