WW-101 -- Japanese Mobile Game Makers and Ring Tone Providers Rapidly Expanding in Europe: Our Analysis of Their Chances

J@pan Inc presents the Wireless Watch Newsletter:


Commentary on the Business of Wireless in Japan

Wireless Watch Newsletter
Commentary on the Business of Wireless in Japan
Issue No. 101, Tokyo, Tuesday, July 29, 2003


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++ Viewpoint: Japanese Mobile Game Makers and Ring Tone Providers
Rapidly Expanding in Europe: Our Analysis of Their Chances

++ Noteworthy News:
-- Netvillage Starts its "Remote Mail" Service in China

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++ Viewpoint: Japanese Mobile Game Makers and Ring Tone Providers
Rapidly Expanding in Europe: Our Analysis of Their Chances

With the introduction of Java-enabled color handsets into the GSM/GPRS
markets, Japanese game makers like Taito and Namco have been able to
launch hit titles like Space Invaders in the Vodafone Live Portal.
Starting this summer, Japanese games will be sold in other portals of
the large European carrier as well.

Currently, games are as popular as ring tone downloads on Java GPRS
phones. The price for a game varies from about JPY410 to JPY680 per

At Wireless Japan, we bumped into Shinya Okuda, a small games shop
manager in Osaka. We discussed his opportunities in the overseas
markets over tall glasses of iced coffee.

Okuda opened his suitcase and showed us a plethora of Nokia and
Motorola handsets that were very impressive -- including the
spectacle of playing Ninja fighting games on a Nokia 3650 and
a Motorola T720. It was almost like playing games on our TVs
at home.

"I only need one successful title per year," Okuda told us. Based
on what he displayed, we think he has one that easily outperforms
the European games we have seen thus far. "With our current revenues
we will develop networked multi-player games that will be launched
next year," he added, disclosing his long-term road map.

On the other hand, Japanese chaku-mero (ring tone) providers have had
less success in the European markets. In the Netherlands, for example,
local ring tone providers as Tutch and Mobillion occupy the top spots
in the i-mode portal, while Yamaha and Cybird remain at the bottom.
Though music is international, localization is a must for the content
to be lucrative.

"Local popular songs are needed and existing melodies must be adapted
to the local taste," according to a content manager at Orange, which
once tested Japanese-made ring tones. "Japanese companies have a huge
library of ring tones, but their melodies have a synthesizer sound that
is not really popular in Europe."

European content providers also have close ties with radio stations and
newspapers to promote their ring tones, something that the Japanese
companies lack.

In addition to Yamaha and Cybird, NEC and Oricon will soon start ring
tone services in Europe. The field is getting crowded, and we sincerely
hope that the new entrants learn from the experiences of their early-entry
Japanese competitors.

Finally, here's one example of a success story. Japanese ring tone
giant Faith learned fast and did the right thing. Last year it acquired
Digiplug, a French ring tone production and music technology
company. Faith acquired access to European know-how and to Digiplug's

-- Arjen van Blokland -----------------------------

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** Netvillage Starts its "Remote Mail" Service in China

In Brief: Tokyo-based mobile application provider Netvillage started its
"remote mail" service on a trial basis in China Mobile's portal. The Chinese
"remote mail" will be available on the Chinese GPRS network for Java-enabled
phones. With "remote mail," subscribers can access their home and office mail.
Attachments can be sent to a fax machine.

Commentary: Netvillage is one of the most successful companies with
non-entertainment mobile applications. The service is currently available
on i-mode, EZweb and J-Sky, and is estimated to have a few hundred
thousand subscribers. Netvillage has been looking for some time at the
Chinese market, and this seems to be a serious move. The service is
targeted at mobile phone users with a fixed-line Internet subscription.


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Written by Arjen van Blokland; edited by the
J@pan Inc staff (editors@japaninc.com)


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