WW-134 -- Christmas Shopping Early in Europe to Beat the Heat at Home

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J@pan Inc presents the Wireless Watch Newsletter:

W I R E L E S S W A T C H

Commentary on Japan's Wireless World
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Wireless Watch Newsletter
Issue No. 134
Friday, August 6, 2004
TOKYO

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CONTENTS

@@ Viewpoint: Christmas Shopping Early in Europe to Beat the Heat at
Home

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@@ Viewpoint: Christmas Shopping Early in Europe to Beat the Heat at
Home

Leading Japanese content providers have started their European Christmas
shopping early this year. Dazed by the sticky and seemingly
interminable heatwave (with record high temperatures of 39.5 degrees
celcius recorded in downtown Tokyo), the CEOs of Index and For-side.com
have established temporary bases in Europe with their respective
due-diligence teams.

Index announced the acquisition of 66.7 percent of the outstanding stock
of French 123multimedia for about 110 million euro. The privately owned
Toulouse-based content aggregator has a strong position in France and
southern Europe. Annual sales of 123multimedia amounted to 118 million
euro last year. Their content is distributed through their own channels
and sold in operator portals.

With this acquisition, Index will gain enormous know-how in the direct
B2C sales of mobile content in Europe. 123multimedia is a large
advertiser in European newspapers and magazines promoting their
contents.

123multimedia suits the Index strategy of having a major presence in
each of the major mobile markets. The Index group expects an annual
revenue of 100 billion yen in 2006 -- about 900 million US dollars.

Index's major Japanese rival, For-side.com, last week bought Belgian
content provider Moustik to gain access to the European SMS market.
As temperatures in Tokyo rocketed to the mid-thirties, For-side.com
CEO Yukinao Ajima struck another deal through an 8 million euro
investment in UK-based iTouch this week.

Meanwhile, silence issues from Cybird's headquarters in the Mori
Tower in Roppongi Hills. Cybird's once-celebrated Robert Hori is
the most internationally exposed CEO in the Japanese mobile industry.
But it looks like Cybird is focusing on its domestic markets.

Does Hori know more than his competitors?

The Japanese financial markets take a critical view of expansion
activities. The market value of Index and For-side.com has exploded
over the past year, and lots of the money is being used to finance
their overseas growth strategies. Consequently, the stock prices of
Index and For-side.com took a major hit in recent weeks. For-side.com
lost about 50 percent of its share value (which peaked in June),
while Index lost 25 percent.

Japanese investors still remember the failed DoCoMo strategy to
expand in the US and Europe during the UMTS-license bubble.

This major consolidation wave is very interesting. Large content
aggregators were sidelined by carrier groups who signed licensing
deals with media companies like Disney, Universal and Sony. The
content aggregators will now be taken more seriously by their
counterparts, as they can offer worldwide distribution channels.

Next week's weather forecast: Tokyo -- Monday through Friday: sunny
and 33 degrees. Hot, hot, hot.

-- Arjen van Blokland

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STAFF
Written by Arjen van Blokland; Edited by Roland Kelts
(editors@japaninc.com)

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