MMW-85 -- The Latest 'Music Player Phones' From Japan

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

Issue No. 85
Wednesday, September 28, 2005


++ FEATURE: The Latest 'Music Player Phones' From Japan
** Interview with Jonathan Page of Sonaptic Ltd.
** Sony Music To Offer Songs on iTunes by Year End
** DoCoMo Announces AM/FM/TV Phone
** Yamaha Opens New Site for MA-7 SMAF Creators
** Vodafone Starts Chaku-uta Search Service
** Nepro Survey: Mobile Phone Music Players Remain Popular

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++ FEATURE: The Latest 'Music Player Phones' From Japan

Digital music features have become major selling points for new
mobile phone models around the world. Here in Japan, it seems hardly
a month goes by without the release of a new handset that raises the
bar for competing mobile music players. In this feature, we introduce
two such models, each of which takes the market one step closer to
turning the mobile phone into a full-fledged digital music player.

The 803T (Vodafone K.K.)

Vodafone's latest 3G music player model is the first one we've seen
that uses a separate b/w screen on the outside together with iPod-like
control buttons so that when you close (fold up) the phone, it functions
as a digital music player. Made by Toshiba, the 803T supports both
chaku-uta full (full-song downloads, which began on Vodafone
last August) and ripping songs from CD. Playlists can be created
that mix chaku-uta with tracks converted from CDs.

When the phone is closed, a separate music player interface allows
playlists to be created, and songs to be selected, played and paused.
Included with the phone is Toshiba's Beat Engine software for ripping
CDs to either MP3 or AAC format. Files are then transferred to the
phone using a mini SD card. Toshiba includes a 64MB card with the
phone, and the maximum size currently available is 512MB.
The phone's battery life allows for up to seven hours of continuous
music playing.

With the 803T, Vodafone is directly targeting 'heavy music users,' and
the marketing campaigns for the phone tout the music player interface
and Vodafone's chaku-uta full catalog (currently a total of about
30,000 songs across all the providers). Selling in colors of 'Piano
White,' 'Sax Blue' and 'Swing Red,' the 803T is scheduled to go on
sale throughout Japan in mid-October.


KDDI has been leading the way in music-related features for its
handsets over the past year. Last November, it became the first carrier
in Japan to offer a full-song download service on its au portal, and
several au handsets come with FM radio tuner, chaku-uta full support
and CD-ripping capability.

The W31SAII is an upgraded version of Sanyo's W31SA, a slide-type
model which was released last April. The main addition in terms of
music player features is the inclusion of a USB cable, which allows for
direct ripping from CD to phone without the need for a mini SD card.
The phone comes with Sanyo's 'SD-Jukebox Ver.5.0 LE' software for
ripping, managing and transferring digital music files from CD.
The W31SAII went on sale in Japan on September 23.

The significance of these two handset releases is that they bring to the
mobile phone a few more of the 'must-have' features needed in a digital
player. A simple, easy-to-use interface and the ability to update
the player by connecting to a PC are two of the key features that have
made the iPod so popular. It is only a matter of time before other
phone makers adopt these for their own models, which will leave only
the hard disk as the final piece missing from the mobile phone music

IT Media Review of the 803T (in Japanese, with photos and screenshots):

IT Media Review of the W31SAII (in Japanese, with photos):

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** Interview with Jonathan Page of Sonaptic Ltd.
In brief: has published an interview with Jonathan Page of
Sonaptic Ltd. about the recently released JSR-234 specification that
adds new audio features to phones. Sonaptic Ltd. was one of
the expert group members responsible for defining the JSR-234
specification. The interview discusses the potential for new
applications of mobile audio using JSR-234 and the various features
and implementations of the new specification.


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** Japan's First Online Music Store to Close in October
In brief: announced last week that it will close its
'' online music store on October 14. Launched in 1997, was the first online music store in Japan, offering music
files in MP3 and WMA formats, and offering a wide selection of
content from independent labels. also announced that it will
start a new mobile phone music distribution service sometime in

** Nokia Sells 'Music Phone' Outside Japan
In brief: On September 19, Nokia released the 3G handset 'Nokia
6630 Music Edition,' for the European, Asian and African markets.
Nokia is touting the strengthened features for managing and playing
music on this model. Tracks can be transferred from a PC with the
'Nokia PC Suite,' software, which comes with the phone. This model
has been sold in Japan for several months by Vodafone under the
name '702NK,' and it is the first time for it to be offered outside Japan.

** Index Teams with TBS Radio On Music Distribution Service
In brief: On September 8, Index announced that along with TBS Radio
and three other companies, it has established a joint corporation
called 'Index Casting' for distributing music online and over the air.
The new venture will search for new artists, create recordings, and
promote live shows.

** Space Shower TV Launches Chaku-uta Full Service
In brief: Space Shower Network (a Japanese music cable TV channel
similar to MTV) announced that it began a full-song download service
for mobile phones (chaku-uta full) on September 15. The new site,
'Supesha Music Store,' is available on KDDI's EZWeb portal, and will
offer chaku-uta from popular artists in the Space Shower TV programs,
which includes both major labels and indies.

** Label Gate Partners With NetCash To Offer 'Mora Music Card'
In brief: Label Gate, which operates the Mora Online Music Store,
announced recently that it is partnering with NetCash to sell
Mora-branded NetCash prepaid cards in convenience stores.
Called the 'Mora Music Card,' the cards will be sold in units of
1,000 yen (US$8.93) to 5,000 yen (US$44.64).

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Written by: Steve Myers