MMW-38 -- Mobile Music Software Update

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
Commentary on the week's music technology news

Issue No. 38
Thursday, February 13, 2003



++ FEATURE: Mobile Music Software Update

- Problems Continue With Foreign Ringtone Copyright Laws
- MMO Japan Loses Court Battle
- New Standard Introduced For Tracking Online Music Sales

++ FEATURE: Mobile Music Software Update

In our last feature, we surveyed some of the latest mobile karaoke
applications for the 504i and 504iS i-mode handsets. Recall that many
of these services began in 2001 with the first Java-enabled 503i
phones and have since been adapted to use the advanced camera and
infrared features found on the new models. This week, we'll take a
look at the current state of non-karaoke mobile music software, and
introduce a few of the more interesting applications and services.

The first thing we noticed about non-karaoke music software for the
504i handsets is that there is relatively little of it. While many
different kinds of musical games, jukebox players and educational
software appeared for the 503i phones over the last two years, only a
small fraction of these have been adapted for the 504i models.
Furthermore, the applications that have been adapted do not seem to be
much different from the 503i versions, despite the fact that the 504i
phones are capable of so much more.

This came as a bit of a surprise at first, especially after having
just surveyed the most recent karaoke applications and seeing the
cutting-edge features employed on the 504i versions. After talking to
some of the developers and others responsible for these applications,
however, it began to make a little more sense. It seems that most of
the ringtone providers offering i-appli software have had their hands
full first trying to support all of the different models, then
re-writing from scratch (due to differences in the Java API) versions
of their programs for J-Sky and ezplus.

So what can you find in the way of music software for the 504i phones?
In addition to the karaoke programs, trial-listening applis for
ringtones ("shichou appli" in Japanese) are quite common, and can be
found on just about all of the major ringtone sites. Yamaha has also
released an expanded 504i version of the "Mobile Jakajan" appli for
teaching the guitar parts to popular songs. The expanded versions
contain a search feature as well as a guitar tuner. Finally, XING has
come out with a jazzed-up version of its "Be Mani" (short for Beat
Mania) application, a highly addictive and popular game in which
players must tap out distinctive rhythm hooks in time with their
favorite songs.

Most of the other major ringtone providers, however, seem content with
simply making their karaoke and trial-listening programs work on the
504i phones. Granted, this is no small task, but it is nonetheless
disappointing that the advanced capabilities of the recent models have
not been more fully utilized by these companies. One provider assured
us, however, that more exciting applications are currently in the
works for not only the 504i models, but also the 505i handsets, which
are due to start appearing in May. DoCoMo has begun sending out Java
API and handset spec information for the 505i to the larger providers,
and it appears the brainstorming sessions for new applications are
well under way. Stay tuned -- we'll be watching to see what shows up
in the way of music software for both the upcoming series of models as
well as the 504i phones of last year.

-- Steve Myers

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** Problems Continue With Foreign Ringtone Copyright Laws

In Brief: As we've discussed in previous MMW features and news briefs,
one of the biggest hindrances to the export of ringtones from Japan to
much larger overseas markets is the issue of copyright licensing. This
week, Nikkei Electronics Asia carried an interesting article that
detailed the plights of some of these companies, and described the
difficulty in standardizing royalty payments overseas as the Japanese
Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (Jasrac) has
done in Japan.


"German Copyright Issues Plague Ringtone Providers" from the March
2002 issue of J@pan Inc

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** MMO Japan Loses Court Battle

In Brief: Like many of its foreign P2P counterparts, MMO Japan found
itself on the losing end of a court case brought against it by the
Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ). On January 29, a Tokyo
District Court issued an interim ruling saying that MMO Japan's
service is a violation of the Copyright Law. While RIAJ and Jasrac
applauded the court's decision, the future of MMO Japan is in doubt.


** New Standard Introduced For Tracking Online Music Sales

In Brief: Last Monday, The International Federation of Phonographic
Industry (IFPI) and the Recording Industry Association of America
introduced a new technology standard for tracking Net music sales. The
new standard, which has been in development for over two years,
incorporates the use of electronic identity tags called GRIDs (Global
Release Identifiers). IFPI says that the new system will help
compensate performers and composers when their work is downloaded via
the Net.


SUBSCRIBERS: 1,175 as of February 13, 2003

Written by: Steve Myers (
Steve Myers heads the Theta Group at Layer-8 Technologies,
which specializes in the development of music-related
software applications.

Edited by J@pan Inc editors: (


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