MMW-68 -- The Changing Face of Mobile Music in Japan, Part 4

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

Issue No. 68
Thursday, December 30, 2004



++ FEATURE: The Changing Face of Mobile Music in Japan, Part 4

** New Device Information Service Launches For Mobile Developers
** RetroFolio Wins Two Mobile Music Awards
** Music Recommendation Software Firm Raises $7.7 Million

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++ FEATURE: The Changing Face of Mobile Music in Japan, Part 4

In this final installment of a four-part series, we move
beyond ringtones and realtone download sites to look at
some of the other new mobile music features and services
that have impacted the Japanese market in 2004.

1. 3D Sound

After full-song realtones, which were introduced on KDDI
in late November, the year's most talked about mobile
music development was the announcement by NTT DoCoMo that
all of the 901i FOMA models will have stereo speakers and
full 3D surround sound capability. With the first of these
models - Sharp's SH901iC and Fujitsu's F901iC - already on
the market, ringtone and realtone providers alike are busy
creating 3D sound versions of their more popular content to
take advantage of this feature, which has been heavily
hyped in the Japanese press.

2. Music Video

Known as "chaku-motion" in Japan, these short video clips
have been one of the hottest selling forms of mobile content
this year. Interview segments, greetings from artists,
concert video footage, and many other types of music video
are now available. Simply by adding a bit of animation as a
song plays, many ringtone providers have been able to
repackage much of their existing content in the guise of
chaku-motion. Some providers, including XING, have even set
up new sites inside their portals devoted entirely to
"artistic music movies," hiring professional studios to
produce 10-20 second video segments for popular songs.

3. FM Radio

Introduced in February, KDDI's EZ-FM service has been a
popular addition to the carrier's impressive menu of 3G
offerings. EZ-FM is available on a few select handsets
from Sanyo which come equipped with an FM radio tuner.
The service represents a collaboration between 53 FM radio
stations, and includes a BREW application that provides
"Now On Air" information about the songs, allowing users
to quickly identify the title and artist of new songs
they like. In addition direct links are provided to both
the realtone of the song currently playing and the radio
station's mobile site.

4. Music Recognition

And for those who don't have easy access to "Now On Air"
information about new songs, music recognition services
allow the identification of title and artist by dialing
a number and holding the phone up to an audio source. The
first of these mobile services appeared in Japan this
summer as a joint effort between MTV, Yamaha and Shazam
called "MTV Music Finder." The service is currently
available on Vodafone only, but is expected to expand
soon to i-mode and KDDI. In addition, several other companies
are rumored to be working on competing services, including
the Japanese subsidiary of US-based Gracenote.

Along with full-song realtone downloads, which were
covered in part 3 of this series, these features and
services all debuted here in 2004, and have received the
most attention and shown the most potential for growth.
Perhaps more importantly, they represent a subtle but
powerful shift in the way mobile music content is being
marketed in Japan.

Ringtones were mainly about personalization - the songs
you chose for your ringtones said something about the
artists and music you liked and identified with. They
weren't meant for serious listening. Full-song realtones
and music video, on the other hand, represent a transition
toward entertainment-based services whereby your phone
becomes something closer to an iPod or portable DVD player.

But are people really ready to pay money for full-length
songs and video on their phones? We think so, but keep
watching MMW for the definitive answer as we track the
progress of these services in 2005.

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** New Device Information Service Launches For Mobile Developers

In brief: Earlier this month, began an
online service for mobile developers that provides detailed
information about the audio capabilities of phones and other
mobile devices. The searchable online database at contains detailed profiles for more
than 100 devices. Each profile lists audio specifications such
as polyphony, supported sound formats, supported mime types,
digital rights management, and file transfer support.


** RetroFolio Wins Two Mobile Music Awards

In brief: At the recent Mobile MusiCon, held in Miami,
Florida, the awards for 'Best of Show' and 'Best New
Technology' were given to RetroFolio 1.0, a ringtone
asset management system. The RetroFolio toolset provides
asset management, file validation, WAP publishing and a
B2B distribution mechanism. The software analyzes ringtone
files, validating them against a matrix of handsets and
network specifications, and flagging any likely


** Music Recommendation Software Firm Raises $7.7 Million

In brief: Oakland, California-based Savage Beast
Technologies, a developer of music navigation and
recommendation software, announced earlier this month
that it had raised $7.7 million in funding. Savage
Beast's Music Genome Project aims to provide music
recommendation based on the input of music experts
analysis of songs using nearly 400 different attributes.
The funds will be used to market the company's current
products as well as develop new products within the
digital music space.


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Written by: Steve Myers (
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 editor: (


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