Tag Archives: japan

MoSoSo & SNS, the future driver of the mobile internet?

There was a recent news from Comscore about how Mobile Social Software (MoSoSo) and Social Networking Services (SNS) drive the development of the mobile internet in Europe.

I also agree on the impact of mobile SNS as driver for the mobile internet. Therefore I want to share some of my thoughts and experiences about mobile SNS available in more mature markets like Japan.

Mobile Game Town - MOBAGE LogoLets have a quick look at two of the most successful mobile SNS platforms in Japan, Mixi and MobileGameTown (MoBaGe).

Mixi is (still) Japans most popular SNS service with around 15 million registered users, a quite impressive number achieved in less than 4 years.

Mixi started as a PC based SNS service and later also introduced a mobile version. The company for a long time put its main focus on the PC based site and mobile mixi was more considered an add-on or a quick access tool. But this changed quickly, as on average around 30% of mixis access came through the mobile phone. So mixi started to extend its mobile service adding more and more functions for mobile users.

Now mobile became the main platform of mixi: Over 55% of the access to the site is mobile access.

Other SNS companies even ignored the PC and started their service right on the mobile phone:

MobileGameTown (MoBaGe) by DeNA combines casual mobile games, avatars, and SNS services. Users can play free casual games create their own avatar, set up a virtual apartment, watch videos, write blogs and meet others in online communities. The platform also has its own virtual currency called Moba Gold.

Just within less than 6 month of the launch registrations surpassed 6.5 million and they are now at over 10.5 million and still growing. And different from Mixi, MoBaGe is only available on the mobile phone!

And despite this, it looks like it will overtake mixi in the long run because the whole service is tailored around the needs of mobile users and not just the mobile extension of a PC based service.

So even in Japan, the mobile SNS boom is still growing after over 4 years. Here people seem more apt to engage in social network services through their mobile phone than through their PC. And it makes sense because for many people around the globe their mobile phone is and extension of their social self.

I deeply believe SNS are drivers for the mobile internet. And this makes sense because -as I have already mentioned elsewhere- the mobile phones DNA is “social”. Very different from the PC which was not initially built for social interaction but for processing data

The mobile phone was built as a social device. Its main purpose was to to keep in touch, to connect, to communicate, Many functions of modern SNS have been core functions of the mobile phone for a long time so it is just natural to turn this device from a social hub into a mobile internet social network hub.

3G mobile diversity in China

China’s Ministry MIIT granted three different 3G cellphone licenses on January 7, 2009:
* a TD-SCDMA license to China Mobile (457 million GSM subscribers)
* a wCDMA license to China Unicom (133 million GSM subscribers)
* a CDMA2000 license to China Telecom (43 million CDMA subscribers acquired in 2008 from China Unicom, 216 million fixnet phone subscribers, 38 million broadband subscribers)

MIIT estimates that the operators will invest about US$ 41 Billion for 3G over the next two years, ie about US$ 20.5 Billion/year – about the same annual rate as Japan’s 3G investments every year over the last 8 years since 3G introduction.

Network technology diversity (instead of the Government deciding on a single radio technology standard) means that China’s mobile market a few years down the road may have some similarities to Japan’s today. Several Japanese companies, including “time machine company” SoftBank are working to bring 3G mobile services and technologies from Japan to China.

In our opinion, competition between different 3G radio network technologies is one of the factors driving Japan’s 3G success story.

MIIT decided not to abandon CDMA2000, in order to enhance competition between technologies. Another factor may have been that Japan’s CDMA2000 operator KDDI was initially much more successful in bringing 3G to market than competitors DoCoMo and Vodafone (which sold Japan operations to SoftBank).

In Japan it was not market leader DoCoMo or Vodafone, but KDDI with CDMA2000 winning the 3G introduction battle. Better be prepared for surprises in China too, and don’t underestimate China Telecom.

US$ 41 billion for 3G in China over 2 years is similar to the figures for Japan.

Japan’s mobile operators have invested a around US$ 15 – 20 Billion every year for more than 10 years (for details see our JCOMM report), very similar in size to expected annual 3G investments for all of China.

Japan’s 3G introduction took about 8-9 years (from October 2001 until 2009/2010 – Japan’s last 2G phone was shipped in December 2007). Therefore we expect 3G introduction to take about 10 years for China – could be faster because China can learn from 3G introduction in other countries.

comparing 3G capital investment in China and in Japan

China opts for network diversity – like US and Japan

The figure below – from our JCOMM report about Japan’s telecom sector – shows the 2G -> 3G transition in Japan, where several networks with different technologies compete in the market place. We believe this competition between different technologies is a key factor for the rapid success of 3G in Japan.

China having chosen multiple competing technologies, we may see a similar 3G success story as in Japan, however with much larger subscription numbers.

Japan's 2G to 3G transition

Recent Studies by Eurotechnolgy and Gerhard Fasol:

“eMobile – the New Age mobile operator”
Buy "eMobile – the New Age mobile operator" by Gerhard Fasol

“Japan’s 3G success story”
Buy "Japan’s 3G success story" (Corporate site license, Version 19 of January 19, 2009, no warranty, no damage payments)

“Japan’s Telecommunication Industry”
Buy "Japan’s Telecommunication Industry" (Corporate site license, Version 38 of January 21, 2009, no warranty, no damage payments)

“KDDI’s success story”
Buy "KDDI’s success story" (Corporate site license, Version 10 of January 23, 2009, no warranty, no damage payments)

“Mobile TV”
Buy "Mobile TV" (Corporate site license, Version 6 of January 19, 2009, no warranty , no damage payments)

Advisory Board: Marco Koeder

Marco Koeder is the Executive Director of CyberMedia K.K., one of Japans leading mobile and web communication agencies.

Part of his daily business is to develop and manage digital strategies for global brands in the Japanese market and beyond. Especially in the interactive and mobile field he spearheaded the global digital strategies of brands like Lufthansa, Renault, Volvo, Nikon and others. Being a digital expert and advisor who knows how to “walk the talk”, Marco published a wide range of reports and articles about Japans mobile and online industry and is frequently holding speeches and seminars on the future of mobile and digital communication for Japanese and international executives.

He just finished writing a book about ”The Six Immutable Laws of Mobile: A Manual for the Future Success of the Global Mobile Industry”, to be published by Wiley in mid 2009. Marco is also an independent advisor to several global companies in the telecommunication and digital content business.

Video-Interview and Introduction of Marco Koeder: