Since your magazine is the most complete source of information and news on the Japanese wireless Internet market that I an aware of, I am wondering if you can help me find a bit of information I have been looking for: Do you know where I might look to find a list of the number of paying subscribers to the most popular iMode, J- Sky, and au service official sites? I have heard that among the popular paid sites are Bandai's (character downloads), various sites offered by Cybird (e.g., surfer's info.), a PIM and info site offered by 104.com (KissKissKiss), Imahima's site, a RemoteMail site, et cetera. Who compiles information on the number of subscribers? Do the mobile operators release this information?
Editor's reply: Thanks for the kind comments about JI. The mobile operators do not make individual site traffic -- whether for an official or unofficial site -- public. If queried, their standard response is, "Ask the content site." Some site owners do release subscriber numbers for some sites (there's almost no way to verify these claims). Cybird (one of the leading wireless consultants and content enablers) said about a year ago that it had 50,000-plus subscribers for its surfing information service; the firm also announces total subscribers for all its sites (see: http://www.cybird.co.jp/ir/user_glaph.html). Sakura Bank's i-mode banking service had about 140,000 users at the end of July 2000, which was growing at 7,000 to 8,000 per month. Itochu Corp. launched the Magaseek (i-mode and Web) service in August 2000 that allows users to select from about 1,000 items (across 52 brands introduced in Oggi and CanCam, two women's fashion magazines) and place orders online. The company says 36,000 users have registered, with i-mode accounting for 80 percent (it also claims to receive about 1,500 orders a month). Despite the media hype, not a lot of content providers are making big bucks; most have found payback by using i-mode and the other wireless services as marketing tools. Banner ads, coupons, and discount offers via email provided to keitai owners seem to be especially effective. Tsutaya (the big video rental chain in Japan) has found that about half of those who received an email ad took action within three hours of the mail's delivery; about 80 percent reacted to the e-mail within a half day. We think there's a good chance keitai surfers in Europe and the US will respond similarly when i-mode arrives in those locations in 2001 and 2002, respectively.