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M&A Mobile mobile games

Japan mobile operators grow to US$ 25 billion in operating profits for FY2014 (ended March 31, 2015)

Annual revenues exceed US$ 170 billion in FY2014

Japan’s mobile telecommunications sector continues to grow

The global mobile internet and smartphone revolution started in Japan in 1999, and Japan’s mobile telecommunications market is the world’s most advanced and most vibrant. Much mobile innovation and inventions, such as camera phones, color screens for mobile phones, mobile apps (i-Appli in Japan), and mobile payments were invented and first to market in Japan.

Globally the first mobile internet started in Japan in February 1999 when NTT-Docomo brought i-Mode to market. NTT-Docomo did not succeed to develop global business based on i-Mode, however, SoftBank took the lead, and is now building a global business built on Japan’s telecommunications sector’s strengths.

To understand Japan’s telecommunications market read our report:

Japan mobile operators grow revenues to over US$ 170 billion in FY2014

While former monopoly operator NTT-Docomo’s business continues to shrink since its peak in 2002, KDDI is growing its predominantly domestic Japanese business slowly but steadily.

SoftBank on the other hand drives rapid growth with domestic Japanese acquisitions (Vodafone-Japan, Japan Telecom, eMobile and Willcom) and overseas acquisitions, which include US operator SPRINT, US mobile phone retailer BrightStar, Finnish game company SuperCell and many others – not to mention SoftBank’s investment in Alibaba.

Japan's top three mobile operators combined revenues grow to over US$ 170 billion
Japan’s top three mobile operators combined revenues grow to over US$ 170 billion

Operating profits rise to approx. US$ 25 billion in FY2014

Operating profits and net profits are steadily increasing for Japan’s three mobile operators combined.

Former monopoly operator NTT-Docomo’s operating profits peaked in 2002, and have been steadily decreasing since this peak.

Both challengers KDDI and SoftBank on the other hand are growing operating profits steadily: KDDI mainly domestically in Japan, with relatively small global business, while SoftBank has dramatically increased business outside Japan with a series of acquisitions and investments, including US operator Sprint, US mobile phone distributor BrightStar and Finnish game developer SuperCell.

Operating income of Japan's three mobile operators combined increases to approx. US$ 25 billion
Operating income of Japan’s three mobile operators combined increases to approx. US$ 25 billion

To understand Japan’s telecommunications market read our report:

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Categories
disruption games mobile games smart phone games

Nintendo smartphone pivot?!

Nintendo partners with DeNA

Taking Nintendo intellectual property and characters to smartphones

Nintendo was founded on September 23, 1889 by Fujasiro Yamauchi in Kyoto for the production of handmade “hanafuda” cards. Nintendo Headquarters are still located in Kyoto (you can see the Nintendo headquarters building from the Kyoto railway station).

The Chinese characters used to write Nintendo’s original Japanese company name in Japanese mean something like “leave the responsibility to heaven or to god”.

Nintendo has been through many pivots during its more than 100 years history, and Nintendo can afford to take its time to do things right, and it did when smartphones started disrupting industry sector after industry sector, and did not stop disrupting the games industry.

Nintendo has a home advantage – the epicenter of the global games industry is in Japan, and not surprisingly, Japan is by far the world’s No. 1 biggest smartphone games market by cash income (other markets are bigger in terms of free downloads, but Japan is No. 1 globally in terms of cash revenues). So Japanese game companies have a big home advantage.

The No. 1 company ranked by gross revenues of the combined total iPhone + Android app market is also a Japanese company.

Yesterday, March 18, 2015, Nintendo announced to join forces with DeNA to jointly develop smartphone games including subscription based game services as a platform to leverage Nintendo’s iconic intellectual properties and characters.

Do you understand the big picture of Japan’s games industries, which drive the global game market? Make sure you do – and read our report:

Copyright 2015 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
mobile games smart phone games

Top Japanese game companies

25 listed top game companies listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange have total market cap of US$ 30 billion

Japan game market report (398 pages, pdf-file):

Japan is the cradle of many global games

Japan created much of today’s global game market with icon’s such as Nintendo. However, today the moment has been taken over by new online game companies. Their combined income now exceeds the traditional icons.

Top Japanese game companies: disruption by newcomers making mobile apps

We wrote in our blog first back in 2009 about the disruption of Nintendo’s blue ocean (Wii and DS) by smartphone app stores.

Top Japanese game companies: top 25 public game companies have added market cap of US$ 30 billion

Today, 25 Japanese online game companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, have a combined market cap of about YEN 3000 billion (US$ 30 billion).

These are (data of May 9, 2014):

  1. Konami (TSE Code 9766)
  2. DeNA (TSE Code 2432) market cap = YEN 246 billion (US$ 2.5 billion)
  3. Gree (TSE Code 3632) market cap = YEN 216 billion (US$ 2.2 billion)
  4. Square Enix Holdings (TSE Code 9684)
  5. Capcom (TSE Code 9697)
  6. GungHo (TSE 3765), market cap = YEN 612 billion (US$ 6 billion)
  7. Colopl (TSE Code 3668), Market cap = YEN 257 billion (US$ 2.6 billion)
  8. find the full list in our report on Japan’s game sector

Total market cap= YEN 2954.2 billion (=US$ 29 billion)

Top Japanese game companies: list above does not include LINE

This list does not include LINE, which is a private company, and has built a substantial games business.

Japan game market disruption – market report:

Copyright 2014 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
games Mobile mobile games smart phone games

Japan iPhone AppStore: 10 out of the 25 top grossing apps in Japan are by companies of foreign origin. Can you guess which?

Japan is No. 1 globally in terms of iOS AppStore + Google Play revenues, bigger and faster growing than USA

10 out of 25 top grossing apps in Japan are of foreign origin

Japan game market report (398 pages, pdf-file)

AppAnnie showed that in terms of combined iOS AppStore + Google Play revenues, Japan is No. 1 globally, spending more than the USA. Therefore Japan is naturally the No. 1 target globally for many mobile game companies, and 10 out of 25 top grossing apps in Japan are of foreign origin!

Japan’s iconic game companies created many game categories – this tradition carries over to mobile gaming now.

Building a business in Japan is not trivial

Many foreign game companies have failed and given up. Foreign game companies that have recently given up in Japan include Zynga and Habbo Hotel. EA has given up twice, and is now undertaking the third entry to Japan. To understand some of the key mistakes foreign companies make in Japan, read our blog about why Vodafone failed in Japan.

Lets have a look at the list of top grossing games in the Apple iOS AppStore today. Out of the 25 top grossing games in the AppStore, 10 are by foreign originating companies. Can you guess which these are by reading the list below?

So Japan is certainly not a “closed market”. Actually, it is obvious that Apple does not discriminate in any way against foreign companies in Japan.

Interestingly, neither Nintendo, nor Rovio’s games, such as Angry Birds appear among the 200 “top grossing games” in Apple’s iOS Japan AppStore.

Apple iOS AppStore-Japan “Top Grossing” games ranking – 10 out of the 25 top grossing apps in Japan are by companies of foreign origin

Can you guess which 10 are by companies of foreign origin?

(read the rankings on July 13, 2014 here)

February 4, 2014:

  • No. 1 Puzzle & Dragons by GungHo
  • No. 2 Quiz RPG Witch and black cat quiz (by Colopl)
  • No. 3 Dragon Quest Monsters Superlight (by Square Enix)
  • No. 4 Monster strike (by Mixi)
  • No. 5 LINE Pokopang (by Naver Japan)
  • No. 6 Pro yakiyu PRIDE (by Colopl Inc)
  • No. 7 Tsuri Suta (by GREE)
  • No. 8 Sengoku Enbu (by Sumzap Inc)
  • No. 9 Puyo puyo!! Quest (by Sega Corporation)
  • No. 10 Gunzei RPG aoi no sangokushi (by Colopl)
  • No. 11 Bousou retsuden tansha tora (by Donuts Ltd) (a motobicycle race game)
  • No. 12 Dragon league X (by Asobism Co Ltd)
  • No. 13 Clash of Clans (by Supercell)
  • No. 14 Love life! School Idol Festival (by KLab Inc.)
  • No. 15 Candy Crush Saga (by King.com Ltd)
  • No. 16 LINE (by Naver Japan)
  • No. 17 Dragon poker (by Asobism Co Ltd)
  • No. 18 Gundam Area wars (by NamcoBandai Games Inc)
  • No. 19 Brave frontier (by Alim Co Ltd)
  • No. 20 Chain cronicle. Original scenario RPG. Chencro (by SEGA Corporation)
  • No. 21 LINE Play (by Naver Japan)
  • No. 22 LINE Bubble! (by Naver Japan)
  • No. 23 LINE Disney tsumu tsumu (by Naver Japan)
  • No. 24 World soccer collection S (by KONAMI)
  • No. 25 Hay Day (by Supercell)

Japan game market report

(398 pages, pdf-file)

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Categories
games M&A mobile games smart phone games Software

“Japanese superman Masayoshi Son” invests in Supercell (interview for Talouselämä, Finland’s largest business newspaper)

“Japanese superman Masayoshi Son” invests in SuperCell – interview with Finland’s largest business newspaper Talouselämä

Talouselämä (Finland’s largest business newspaper)’s news editor Mirva Heiskanen interviewed me for their article entitled “Japanese superman Masayoshi Son invests in Supercell” (Supercellin ostaja Masayoshi Son on Japanin supermies).

More interviews by Gerhard Fasol.
To understand SoftBank better, read our report on SoftBank, an analysis of SoftBank, history, current data, and the context.

Here are some of my main points:

Its not well known in Europe and US yet, but SoftBank is a very large company, and aiming to become the world’s largest company

SoftBank is really a very large company, driven by the charismatic founder Masayoshi Son. To get a feeling for the size of SoftBank, while the investment in Supercell is a large amount of money by anybody’s standards, its about 5% of SoftBank’s acquisitions this year alone (in addition to M&A type investments, SoftBank also invests substantial sums in networking equipment and other telecom business infrastructure and data centers).

SoftBank invested in about 1500 companies, the most famous currently being Alibaba

Overall SoftBank invests in about 1500 companies or more: SoftBank takes a venture capital approach to this portfolio. Overall SoftBank investments are incredibly successful. As an example, look at the currently important Alibaba case:
Softbank acquired 36.7% of Alibaba in 2000 for US$ 20 million.
Alibaba’s market cap will be determined after its IPO, but currently figures between US$ 100 billion and even up to US$ 250 billion circulate. This would value SoftBank’s 36.7% stake in Alibaba at somewhere between US$ 36.7 billion and US$ 91 billion, a return on initial investment between 1835 and 4550 times!

While SoftBank’s overall portfolio is outstandingly successful, not every single investment is successful, as is normal for a venture type investment style.

This year alone, SoftBank investments and acquisitions amount to about US$ 30 billion

This year SoftBank’s direct investments and acquisitions alone are on the order of US$ 30 billion and include:

  • Sprint US$ 21.6 billion + infrastructure investments
  • Clearwire (not sure if this is included in the Sprint figures)
  • eMobile/eAccess US$ 5 billion including debt
  • GungHo increase stake US$ 1/4 billion
  • Supercell US$ 1.5 billion
  • mobile phone distributor Brightstar which is another US$ 1.26 billion

Talouselämä questions about SoftBank and its investment in Supercell and my answers:

  • What are SoftBank’s targets? SoftBank wants to become one of the most important companies globally, has a 30 year plan and a 300 your plan
  • How does SoftBank integrate acquisitions? Case-by-case. In some cases, e.g. Vodafone-Japan KK, Softbank totally absorbed the company and its assets became much of the starting point of SoftBank Mobile, however today’s SoftBank Mobile is a dramatically different company compared to Vodafone-Japan KK, which according to Masayoshi Son in recent interviews “was going south”.
  • How important are games for Softbank? SoftBank is major investor in GungHo, which is one of the world’s most successful smartphone game companies.
  • What other businesses does SoftBank concentrate on, and what kind of goals does it have? SoftBank today focusses on mobile communications and internet, however is also active in other areas. For example, SoftBank is aggressively building an energy business, with focus on renewable energy, which includes renewable energy investments in Mongolia for example. SoftBank‘s more than 1500 investments include Alibaba and Yahoo Japan KK.

To understand SoftBank better, read our report on SoftBank, an analysis of SoftBank, history, current data, and the context.

Understand Japan’s games sector and its disruption

Report “Japan game makers and markets” (pdf file, approx 400 pages, 140 figures)

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