Monday, December 15, 2008

Manga Get

I have written about the mobile novel phenomenon in Japan and how it is not a birth of new genre of novels but is a birth of a new form of communication.
Authors write stories using cell phones, upload them onto novel sites. As soon as a new story or a chapter is uploaded, readers read it and leave comments. The authors read comments and fine-tunes the story lines. Thus, mobile novels are written through this collaboration between authors and readers. This is why I say that it is a new form of communication. It's a form of communication centered around contents called mobile novels.
Manga Get is a service which promotes a new form of communication, this time, centered around cartoons.
The service provides a PC based Web site for uploading cartoons, and a mobile site for viewing the cartoons.
The authors draw cartoons on a piece of paper, scan the paper, and upload the data to the Manga Get PC site. The site automatically cuts up the cartoons into indivisual frames which then are optimized for the cell phones' small screens.
Once all this is done, readers can view the cartoons using their cell phones. Readers can become fans of particular authors, leave comments, or communicate with other fans using bulletin board systems(BBS). In effect, it is a social-networking-service(SNN) type community which centers around cartoons.
Mang Get is run by a Japanese start-up called Spicysoft.
Like other online communities, advertisement is the base of their business model. They also sell members virtual goods such as clothes and accessories for the members avatars.
Spicysoft said they plan to share the revenue with popular authors. With magazine market in Japan is shrinking fast, Spicysoft hope to create a new marketplace to mach authors and readers.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Next book is on mobile and Asia

I have started collecting information on the Internet business in Asia. Especially I am interested in mobile space. I can collect information on Japanese mobile business without a problem, but I think it will be a bit harder to collect Korean and Chinese information. Any help on collecting Korean and Chinese information would be greatly appreciated.
This time I am going to write a book in English, and English only. I don't plan to write a book on this topic in Japanese.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

mobile p2p framework "Spear"

Yoshidakamagasako Inc.'s mobile p2p framework "Spear" would make cell phones to communicate data without going through the cell phone operators' central servers.
Data from one cell phone is routed to the other at the local router level instead, therefore it takes much less time to communicate data between two phone sets.
While the response time of going through the central server is around a few seconds, by routing at the local level data travels almost real time to the other phone.
Yoshidakamagasako Inc also developed multi-cast framework called "Spear Multi." With Spear Multi, time lag doesn't increase as much even the number of the cell phone increases. With other typical P2P framework, it takes four times longer to finish sending data as the number of cell phone increases.
This near real time data communication enables quick response multi-player games such as table tennis.
Although you can do the similar games using blue tooth technology, with Spear p2p framework you can play with way beyond the blue tooth signal range which said to be around 10 meters.
First applications of this technology are games, of course. P2P games are already available to the general public in Japan through NTT docomo, au and other cell phone operators. Square-Enix just released a game called "Demon Chain" using Spear.
Other application may be real time handwritten chat on touch screen smart phones. After display the same map on two smart phones touch screens, one users' handwritten messages and images such as arrows on the map would show up on the other users screen. Sharp started a handwritten chat software called "Tegaki Chat" on smart phones using the Spear technology.
Demonstration video can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Infinity Ventures Summit Fall 2008 and Jason Calacanis

I am attending Infinity Ventures Summit Fall 2008 in Miyazaki. This is my second IVS to attend. This time more than 300 start-up entrepreneurs from Japan, Asia, the US, and Autralia.
Before IVS, I was honored to have a chance to interview Jason Calacanis of Mahalo.
Here are videos of the interviews.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Infinity Ventures Summit Spring 2008 in Sapporo, Japan

I am attending Infinity Ventures Summit Spring 2008 in Sapporo, Japan. It is an invitation-only technology conference for technology start-ups. This year, about 320 CEOs and COOs of Japanese technology start-ups are attending. According to Mr. Masashi Kobayashi, a well-known venture capitalist who organizes this event, attendants from overseas more than doubled to 35 this year. US web 2.0 companies such as meebo, seasmic, admobs and others are here, and established tech companies from Taiwan, mainland Chine, and Korea are giving speeches. I spoke with a couple of Chinese entrepreneurs; they are SOOO interesting! One of them told me that the US companies will not be able to "rule the Chinese markets." According to him, a Chinese search company is way ahead of Google China in terms of search market share, and some top management in Google China left the company already. One Korean attendee told me that the US companies don't understand the local markets. "They hire English speaking local people who have had no experience in local tech industries, just because their English speaking ability. So most of them fail miserably." One Taiwanese company said Apple's iTunes have no significant presence in Chinese market. What matters in online businesses is community, and in order to establish self-sufficient communities in local markets, you have to understand the local culture, he said.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

DoubleClick Interview

by tsuruaki

The interview took place last year in Tokyo. The above video is a digest version. You can listen to the entire interview by clicking the download botton below.

「DoubeleClick interview MP3」

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Josh James
Powered by FlipClip

This is a video clip I took when I interview Josh James, CEO of Omniture, in March.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

digital Signage blog

My good friend Manolo Almagro let me know about this blog, Digital Out of Home.
Digital Signage is one of the fields that Japanese large electronics makers are interested in.
The blog will be a good source of information! Thanks Manolo-san.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Old and New merge on Nico Nico Douga

This is an example of Nico Nico Douga. What's different from YouTube is that you can post messages on screen. See the example above. Traditional Japanese song is mixed with techno-pops music. Nico Nico Douga is way more popular han YouTube among Japanese teenagers

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I have been saying that cell phones are the ultimate form of SNS because the phonebooks being real social graphs. If that's the case, all the development we see in the PC based web are going to apply to the cell phone space in the near future, especially new types of ad technologies such as social ads. What's more, cell phone being a bridge between virtual and real worlds, possibility of the cell phone web can go well beyond the PC web. That' why I have been keeping an eye on new developments in the cell phone SNS space.
One of the fascinating success stories in the space is Moba-ge-town run by DeNA, a net auction company in Japan. The site started as a free game site. Isao Moriyasu who is in charge of the site, told me that he had known Moba-ge-town would be successful. He knew users would flock to the site, because at that time most game sites in the cell phone space charged a fee to play a game. "But I didn't expect we would be this popular at such an early stage," said Moriyasu.
Moriyasu made a couple of fantastic moves. The first is that he made a site a SNS. Atracting young users with free games, Moba-ge-town then let users form communities. After establishing one of the largest SNS in the cell phone space, Moriyasu is transforming the site into a portal. "Rival is Yahoo!" says Moriyasu.
Another fascinating move he made was having both contents and a monetization process ready from the beginning. DeNA, being an auction and affiliate service provider, had a cell phone affiliate service called "Pocket Affiliate" ready and going when Moba-ge-town opened in 2006. Therefore form the first year of operation, Moba-ge-town was in black. Many contents providers I know tend to think "You build it, then money Will come." But usually it won't.
The third fascinating move is TV ads. Some Internet moguls criticised Moba-ge-town when it started running TV and magazine ads, saying the mobile users and TV viewers are demographically different. All the Internet businesses that run TV ads in the past lost their ad money, they said. However Moriyasu said advertisement pays off in terms of gaining new users. Also one online ad executive hails it is a marvelous move. "More and more national ad clients know that legacy media cannot reach teenagers. Even the Internet portals cannot reach them. They know teenagers' main medium is the cell phone. But they know nothing about cell phone web, except Moba-ge-town. National clients know the name because of Moba-ge-town's TV ads. Moba-ge-town is getting almost all the ad money that national clients have for the cell phone space" he said.
DeNA' financial statement of 2007 Q3 confirmed the ad executive's contention. "Advertisement by national clients growing continuously," the statement says.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

cell phone novel

Cell phone novels are getting really popular among Japanese teenagers. They have become a phenomenal success!
Cell phone novels are a type of novels which are written by regular cell phone users using cell phones as both writing and reading devices. Since cell phones have been the most popular medium among Japanese high school and junior high students surpassing "legacy" mass media such as TV, magazine, and newspapers, cell phone novels are widely read mainly byteenagers.
Cell phone novels have become popular first on a cell phone web site called Magic Island. The site offer free web sites creating and maintaining platform since March 2000. At first, many users were writing blog type posts, but some started writing novels using the platform. According to Magic Island, the number of novel titles is well over one million now.
Naturally, some novels become more popular than others. One such novel titled "Koisora" which means "Love Sky" in Japanese has become a smashing hit. The total number of the access to the novel's cell phone web site has been around 39 million. It was so popular, a publishing company decided to publish a paper book version of the novel. So far close to 5 million copies of the book version were sold and it became the best selling book in Japan in 2007.
As a matter of the fact, top 3 of the last year's best sellers were cell phone novels turned real paper books. Among top ten, 5 books are reprint of cell phone novels.
Why cell phone books are so popular? I don't know.
My friends at publishing house kept telling me it is hard to sell books these days. One famous author once told me "10 years ago whenever I write a new book, I could sell 100,000 copies easily. Now I am more than happy when I sell 10,000 copies."
He also told me he has read one of the cell phone novels to see what this phenomenon is all about. "It has a really simple story line. Nothing isinnovative. It has no literary value," he said. He lamented the readers lack of artistic sense.
However, if you think about it, maybe it is not the literary value that readers are looking for these days.
The story lines are simple like the famous author said they are. Almost all the cell phone novels are love stories. The maincharacters are usually high school or junior high students. The stories are something the readers can relate to. The situation that is "real" to the readers.
In that everyday situation, something peculiar or sensational happens. Something unusual happens; such as homosexuality, suicide, or prostitution. In tha sence, the stories are similar to soap operas.
I guess that young readers want something they can relate to. At the same time, they want something sensational. They want excitement in their life but they don't want to mess up their lives.
Maybe they want something they can gossip about. Young readers may treat cell phone novels almost as their friends stories. Stories of friends who have gone into wilder side of teenage lives. Teenage readers simply want to gossip with friends about the wild stories. Cell phone novels maybe a new medium of communication among teenagers.
If that is the case, we must not judge them by literary value. Cell phone novels' real value must lie in how well readers can communicate and reach the sense of sharing among users. Cell phone novels created a new space of communication, or a new genra of novel.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

OPAST-mobile ad exchange

Searchteria, a Japan's mobile key word ad frontier, started a mobile ad exchange called OPAST. OPAST has a direct offering function in which advertisers pick mobile sites and offer the price and duration of ad serving. Also, it has an ad serving optimization function which can maximize the effect of ads by using the past data analysis that Serchteria has, and by pilot testing the ad serving in a limited way at first.
OPAST is the second mobile ad exchange opened in Japan following Admob which started operation in Japan early this year. Admob, a Silicon Valley company, has a long tail strategy that appeals to small site operators at first.
In contrast, Hikaru Miura, managing director of Searchteria, said Searchteria will keep working closely with ad agencies.
A couple of people in the industry told me that in Japan major ad agencies still has strong foothold in the ad market. "Without agencies help, you cannot get ads. I heardAdmob is having a hard time in Japan," one ad industry veteran said.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Real manufactureing originated from virtual world

Naturum, a Japanese outdoor goods EC site, is preparing to manufacture apparel products designed in Secondlife.
The EC site has been operating two sims where Secondlife users can enjoy outdoor activities such as fishing, surfing, camping and so on. The sims have become one of the most popular sites among Japanese Secondlife users. Naturum operates a shoping mall within the sims with 10 retail clothing stores. Each stores are operated by average Secondlife users who enjoy creating virtual clothes in this virtual world.
Some of the virtual clothes turned out to be very popular among users, so Naturum decided to manufacture real clothes for the real world based on the designs of the popular virtual clothes. One of the popular apparel that Naturum is prepareing to manufacture is a see-through camouflaged shirt for women. Yes, see-through camouflage !
"I cannot come up with such an unique idea. I mean who can?" said Naru Nakajima, CEO of Naturum.
According to Nakajima, he found a manufacturer who is willing to manufacture in small lots. "We are now at the final stages of planning. We will probably manufacture 50 to 100 sets of real outfits and start selling them at our real EC site by August," saysNakajima. 10 virtual stores in the Naturum sims will be replaced by new creators every 3 months, so that new types of virtual clothes keep arriving and so are new designs for real clothes. "I am not expecting a mega hit, but if we can keep producing apparels designed by several hundred Secondlife creators, I think it will become a good enough business. I'd like to call this Web 2.0 manufacturing," says Nakajima.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

digital signage that sends data to mobile phone

Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. in Japan has developed a digital signage system that can send data to mobile phones. According to the press release in Japanese, the system sends data to mobile phones via an electric money function of the phones. By touching the phone to the digital signage for a second, a consumer can apply for a contest, or receive data such as coupons.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Nico Nico Douga start anime channel

Nico Nico Douga, a Japan's popular video service, started animation channel called Nico Nico Anime Channel. Penquin Musume will be uploaded on April 19.

Nico Nico Douga shakes hands with JASRAQ

Nico Nico Douga, the most popuolar YouTube like video sharing service in Japan decided to pay loyality to Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers. According to some published reports, Dwango which operates the video service will pay 1.875% of its earnings. As long as users uploads videoes of their own singing and playing, they can use copyrited music.
I guess they want to go legit.
Nico Nico Douga has been extreamly popular in Japan. Many youngsters around me say they watch Nico Nico for at least a few hours a day. It seems like Nico Nico Douga surpased YouTube in popularity in Japan.
One thing Nico Nico differ from YouTube is that Nico Nico can superimpose a closed caption on video. Some videos' screens are filled with many coments. I suppose it is a new type of communications.