Japanese mobile phone content sales pass ¥1.5 trillion

Japanese mobile phone content sales pass ¥1.5 trillion

Social media and gaming reap huge rewards in Japan's multi-billion dollar mobile content market
Your mobile phone -- communicator, entertainer and friend all wrapped up in one.

According to a report by Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan's mobile phone content market is continuing to boom, having tripled in value in the last five years alone. Now valued at an enormous ¥1.52 trillion (US$17.1 billion), the largest increase in 2009 came from commercial sales, those things bought by people through their phones such as travel tickets, rather than content-driven revenue, those things bought by people to use on their phones such as games. These were valued at US$10.9 billion and US$6.2 billion respectively.

The main reason for the increase is put down to the growth of 'virtual items' within social media such as Twitter Japan, and gaming, according to Asiajin. One of the biggest winners has been social network gaming site GREE, whose profits in their fiscal year 2009-10 were reported to be ¥19.5 billion.

In the music market, the Recording Association of Japan, whose member companies and organizations account for 90% of the music market in Japan, reported earlier this year that mobile phone sales of music fell 4 percent last year to ¥79.2 billion yen on 421.3 million units sold.

Softbank, which exclusively sells the iPhone in Japan but is only the third-largest carrier, had been looking to buy one of Japan's record labels, Victor Entertainment, back in April, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun. Later reports suggested the deal fell through over share prices and artists' objections, but with the largest carrier NTT Docomo owning a 40 percent stake in Tower Records, the role of the mobile phone carrier is still set to shape the future of music sales.

NTT Docomo's launch of the much-anticipated iPhone rival, the Xperia X10 from Sony-Ericsson, on April 1, 2010 saw it top sales rankings by May and become the carrier's leading smart phone. So, expect next year's stats to show even greater growth as smart phones dominate people's attention while sat on long silent train rides.


Robert Michael Poole is a specialist on the Japanese music and entertainment scene.

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