MMW-73 -- PakeRaji Debuts in Japan

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

Issue No. 73
Tuesday, March 15, 2005

++ FEATURE: PakeRaji Debuts in Japan

** Sony Ericsson To Release Full-featured Music Phone
** Chaku-uta Full Racks Up 3 Million Downloads
** Onkyo Announces Interactive Dock for iPod
** Roland To Release New Rhythm Training Device
** Tao's Mobile Mixer Wins BAFTA

** 'Mobile Music Mixing Mannana' by Hayden Porter
** 'Mobile Music Japan' by Eurotechnology Japan K.K.

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++ FEATURE: PakeRaji Debuts in Japan

There has been talk of streaming radio on mobiles in Japan
ever since the carriers began offering flat-rate plans for
data packet charges last year. On Februrary 25, Dwango
became the first ringtone provider to offer a mobile
streaming radio service on its popular Iro Melo Mix site.

Called 'PakeRaji' (a Japanese abbreviation for 'Packet
Radio'), Dwango's new service allows users to tune in to
'streamed' broadcasts as if they were listening to a web
radio station on their PC. Most of the programs are about
15 minutes long, and consist of music or audio played in
synch with a set of still-frame photos which change every
few seconds.

To access the service, users first download a free i-appli
on DoCoMo or BREW application on KDDI. On startup, a simple
menu screen is displayed with options to view the current
program or see the schedule. At present, the content lineup
consists of eight 15-minute programs. Each day four of these
programs are shown in rotation. The next day the other four
programs are shown.

Program content consists of music features with artist
commentary, comedy skits, interviews with sports stars and
the inevitable 'idol' (swimsuit model) shows. It seems
Dwango has arranged tie-ups with several media companies to
create this content, and even did a 'live' broadcast of a
recent rocket launch in conjunction with JAXA, the Japanese
Space Agency.

On a technical level, the PakeRaji system is client-server
based, where the server continuously sends chunks (about
50KB or so) of chaku-movie content to the client application.
As one piece is playing, the application downloads the next
chunk and lines it up to play as soon as the current one
finishes. While the idea is simple enough, it can be
difficult in practice to stitch these pieces together on
the client side so that they play seamlessly.

Still, Dwango and their technical partner Composite appear
to have done a pretty good job with the system implementation.
We tried PakeRaji out on an N900i FOMA phone, and experienced
very little in the way of delays or other problems. There have
been rumors of occasional crashes on some handsets, but for
the most part the system appears to be fairly stable.

Dwango has made the service available to Iro Melo Mix
subscribers on DoCoMo and KDDI who have the latest 3G
phones. Although there is no extra charge to download
the appli, users do have to pay packet charges on the
data. Without a flat-rate plan for data packets, a
15-minute program can easily cost as much as JPY 9,000
(US$86.50) making it impractical for all but flat-rate
data subscribers.

As ringtone providers in Japan battle to keep their
current subscriber bases (Dwango currently has 4.6
million Iro Melo Mix subscribers across the three
carriers), being first to market with a streaming radio
service is certainly a major plus. Don't be surprised
to see other providers now rush to get on board, with
a flurry of new 'packet radio' stations popping up
here over the coming months.

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** Sony Ericsson To Release Full-featured Music Phone
In brief: Sony Ericsson announced last week that it will
release the first phone to support both full-song master
ringtones (chaku-uta full) and FM radio. In addition, the
phone also has a built-in digital music player and a
memory stick and PC software for allowing users to convert
files on their PC or CDs to ATRAC3 format and then transfer
them to the phone. The W31S will be released for KDDI
in mid-April.

** Chaku-uta Full Racks Up 3 Million Downloads
In brief: Another month, another million downloads. Chaku-uta
Full is showing no signs of slowing down, as KDDI recently
announced that more than 3 million full-song master ringtones
have been sold in Japan since the launch of the service on
November 18 of last year.

** Onkyo Announces Interactive Dock for iPod
In brief: Onkyo Corp. announced recently that it has
developed a remote interactive dock that links Apple’s iPod
with Onkyo receivers and AV systems. The iPod can be operated
via remote control while on the dock, which can also be used
as a mini-stand to recharge the iPod. The product is scheduled
for release in mid-2005 in the US, Europe, Japan and other
parts of Asia.

** Roland To Release New Rhythm Training Device
In brief: On March 18, Roland will begin selling the
'Rhythm Coach,' a new electronic percussion device for
learning and practicing drums and percussion. The unit
comes with exercises for practicing timing, stroke
balance, and a variety of rhythmic techniques. The
Rhythm Coach is priced at JPY 40,000 (US$385.00).

** Tao's Mobile Mixer Wins BAFTA
In brief: The Tao Group took home the top interactive
music award at the 2005 Interactive Entertainment BAFTA
awards ceremony held in London on March 2. Tao's winning
entry, the SSEYO miniMIXA, is a mobile music mixer, ringtone
creator and DJ system. On March 7, Tao announced a
partnership with HTC, whereby the SSEYO miniMIXA will
come pre-installed on HTC devices.

Theta Music Technologies, a leading provider of music-
related software and technology, is currently accepting
applications for the following position:

Title: Software Developer
Status: Full time
Location: Tokyo
Requirements: BS in Computer Science or equivalent; strong
Java and object-oriented software design skills; fluent
English ability
Other desired skills:
- C/C++
- Mobile development (J2ME, BREW)
- Interest in music
- Japanese language skill

Salary and remuneration are commensurate with experience.
To arrange for an interview, please contact Steve Myers

** 'Mobile Music Mixing Mannana' by Hayden Porter
In brief: Hayden Porter's latest article for
provides an excellent overview of ringtone "remixers" for
mobile phones, including the SSEYO miniMIXA (see related
newsbrief). Porter covers the various technologies and
business models used for these mobile music applications,
and provides descriptions of some of the mobile mixers
currently on the market.

** 'Mobile Music Japan' by Eurotechnology Japan K.K.
In brief: This 100-page report presents a comprehensive look
at developments and trends in Japan's mobile music industry
from 1999 through the present. In addition to descriptions
of all the major services, products and players, the report
includes 40 photos, as well as data tables and charts
depicting the massive growth of Japan's mobile music

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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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