MMW-90 -- Warner Experiments With Mobile Bundling

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

Issue No. 90
Monday, December 12, 2005


++ FEATURE: Warner Experiments With Mobile Bundling
** New Wireless Earphones For Panasonic Phone
** KDDI 3G Subscribers Top 20 Million
** Faith to Distribute Mobile Music From Warner
** iPod Tax Rejected By Government Panel
** RIAJ Releases Data for Q3 Digital Downloads

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++ FEATURE: Warner Experiments With Mobile Bundling

Warner Music Japan and KDDI introduced a new mobile music service
offering that mixes different types of popular content. Called the 'WA-MO
Pack', each download contains a bundle of chaku-uta (realtones),
chaku-motion (video) and Flash screensavers from a particular artist,
together with artist commentary and information. The WA-MO packs
can only be downloaded by subscribers to Warner Mobile's service, with
each download costing the user 200 to 500 'points' (this works out roughly
to US$1.67 to $4.20 per download). The service is available only to KDDI
subscribers with 3G handsets.

The WA-MO packs use SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration
Language, pronounced 'smile') to integrate and control playback of the
different content types. SMIL is being used increasingly by mobile content
providers in Japan to create content that synchronizes music and sound
with video, images and text. The entire pack can be saved on the handset
as a single file.

A few days after the announcement, we visited the Warner Mobile site on
KDDI's 'au' menu portal and tried out one of the new mobile bundles.
Actually there is only one pack that has been released so far - Sean
Paul's 'The Trinity Pack Vol. 1', which contains a chaku-motion video
clip of 'We Be Burning', a chaku-uta of 'The Trinity', photos from
the CD jacket and a video message from Sean Paul along with his bio
and profile information. The whole package costs 500 points (US$4.20).

The download time was surprisingly fast - about 15 seconds for a 1MB file.
After saving the file on the handset and selecting it, the SMIL player
started up with a splash screen and then began to play the content in
sequence. The pack opens with a 'Yo yo yo!' greeting and commentary from
Mr. Paul and proceeds through the video clip, the chaku-uta, the screen
saver and ends with the biography. As each piece of content plays,
additional information scrolls across a marquise at the bottom. From
within the player, it is also possible to save each individual content
item in its respective folder on the phone. The overall effect is
impressive, much like watching and navigating a miniature DVD.

Warner says it plans to add a few new titles each month, including packs
for new Japanese artists such as Ayaka (expected to make her debut in
February) and dance group D.D.D. The company also said it intends to
expand the bundles quickly to include a wider range of music content
and may even offer full albums through the WA-MO service.


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** New Wireless Earphones For Panasonic Phone
In brief: In mid-December Mobilecast will begin selling a
Bluetooth-enabled wireless earphone set called ‘mLink R for P902i’.
The earphones are made for the Panasonic P902i handset for NTT
Docomo and feature a remote control for music playback. The
earphones are expected to be priced at JPY9,800 (US$83.00).

** KDDI 3G Subscribers Top 20 Million
In brief: On November 15, KDDI and Okinawa Cellular announced that the
total number of 3G mobile contracts crossed the 20 million mark.
KDDI 3G phones are all capable of playing chaku-uta (realtones) and this
type of music content has been key to the rapid adoption of 3G phones in

** Faith to Distribute Mobile Music From Warner
In brief: Faith announced that it would begin distributing ringtones and
realtones from Warner music through mobile carriers around the world
with the exception of the United States. The digital conversion and
production will be handled by Digiplug, a Paris-based subsidiary. Faith
announced it expects to generate between 300 and 500 million yen
(US$2.5 to $4.2 million) in sales from the distribution in the first year.
Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (2005/11/21)

** iPod Tax Rejected By Government Panel
In brief: On December 1, a government panel decided against expanding
a levy on digital recording media to include portable music players such
as the iPod. The proposed tax has been the topic of much debate in
Japan over the last several months, with consumer groups and device
manufacturers expressing strong opposition to the plan.

** RIAJ Releases Data for Q3 Digital Downloads
In brief: The RIAJ (Record Industry Association of Japan) has released
sales data showing that the number of downloads reached 2.35 million
in the third quarter, more than double the 1.04 million reported for Q2.
The sharp increase was largely due to the strong showing by Apple's
iTunes music store, which launched in August. Mobile downloads
continued to climb as well, reaching more than 72 billion and accounting
for more than 95% of all digital music downloads.

Subscribers: 4,729 as of December 12, 2005

Written by: Steve Myers