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.