MMW-94 -- KDDI's New LISMO Service

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

Issue No. 94
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

++ FEATURE: KDDI's New LISMO Service
** Def Tech Featured in Ads For New Sony Handset
** Toshiba Overhauls its 'Play-T' Music Info Site
** New Prince Album Released First as Chaku-uta Full
** Konami Launches Chaku-uta Full Site on Vodafone
** Onkyo Begins Digital Distribution of Classical Music

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++ FEATURE: KDDI's New LISMO Service

One of the most attractive features of Apple Computer's iPod/iTunes
combination has always been the ease with which songs are moved
from the PC to the player. So far, though, this type of PC-based
file-management software and synchronization ability has been missing
from music player phones in Japan. Aiming to correct this problem,
KDDI announced the start of a new integrated music service last month
called au Listen Mobile (LISMO) which could bring mobile phone music
players one step closer to direct competition with dedicated music
players such as the iPod.

While KDDI's full-song mobile download service (chaku-uta full) has
achieved impressive sales results (30 million downloads in the first
13 months of service), it has so far not been possible to move songs
from the phone to a PC or other device. KDDI has also refrained from
including CD-ripping and file management software for their phones.
In the early days of chaku-uta full, these were not seen as serious
limitations. In fact, KDDI specifically wanted to discourage customers
from copying songs from their CDs onto the phone so they would
have more incentive to use the chaku-uta full service.

However, as CD-ripping and file management software became a
major selling point for 'music phones' from NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone
in 2005, KDDI decided to develop its own application (called au Music
Port) for inclusion with all LISMO-capable handsets. In conjunction
with the release of these phones, KDDI will open its own online music
store (DuoMusic Store) in April, offering tracks that can be downloaded,
stored and played on the PC as well as the phone. Rather than using
a credit card, customers will purchase songs by entering their phone
numbers and 4-digit PINs. The purchase then shows up on the
customer's monthly phone bill.

So what specific features are found on the new LISMO phones?
First, these models will all have the new au Music Player application
pre-installed, featuring an interface that is similar to that of the iPod.
In addition, the 'au Music Port' ripping and management software
will be included with the phones, and users will be able to move
songs back and forth between the phone and PC. This software
can also be used to back up and manage the phone's photos,
videos, email and daily calendar. Seven LISMO models have been
announced for spring. These include the 'neon' phone from the
au design project and the first six W4x series handsets. A few
of the handsets have been released in recent weeks, including
a model from Toshiba with a 4GB hard drive.

While phone manufacturers have traditionally been free to develop
their own proprietary music player applications and
ripping/management software to use as selling points, KDDI has
now become the first carrier to consolidate these features across
all new and future models. Also, by combining their music player
phones with management software for the PC and an online music
store, the wireless carrier is adopting the same business model
as Apple and essentially setting the stage for head-to-head
competition with the iPod in Japan. In our next feature, we'll
present a point-by-point comparison of these two mobile music

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** Def Tech Featured in Ads For New Sony Handset
In brief: Sony Ericsson has tapped popular music duo Def Tech
to pitch its new W41S handset, the company's latest 'music
phone' for KDDI. The W41S was released on January 27,
and was the first model to support KDDI's new 'Listen Mobile'
service. Def Tech is prominently featured in the promotional
campaign for the phone, and performed at a press conference
last week in much the same way that English band Jamiroquai
did for Sony Ericsson's W800i Walkman model in Europe.

** Toshiba Overhauls its 'Play-T' Music Info Site
In brief: In conjunction with the release of its W41T handset for
KDDI, Toshiba has revamped its 'Play-T' music information web site.
With a 4GB hard drive, the W41T is Toshiba's entry in the latest
round of the 'music phone' wars, and the company has added a
new section on the 'Play-T' site with tips and information for
playing music on the mobile phone.

** New Prince Album Released First as Chaku-uta Full
In brief: Universal Music announced last week that it had released
a chaku-uta full (full-song mobile download) track from Prince's
upcoming album '3121' ahead of the single or album release in
Japan. The track 'Black Sweat', was made available on Universal's
chaku-uta full site on February 7. The planned release date for the
album in Japan is March 20.

** Konami Launches Chaku-uta Full Site on Vodafone
In brief: On Feb. 15, Konami started a chaku-uta full site on the
Vodafone Live! menu portal. The new service, called 'Konami
Music Full', will offer full-track versions of music from the company's
video games.

** Onkyo Begins Digital Distribution of Classical Music
In brief: On Feb. 15, Onkyo began distributing classical music tracks
on its 'e-onkyo music store' service. The new tracks are in
24-bit/96kHz lossless format and priced at 300 to 800 yen
(US$2.50 to $6.75) per track.

Subscribers: 4,755 as of February 21, 2006

Written by: Steve Myers