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i-Mode was launched February 22, 1999 in Tokyo – birth of mobile internet

The mobile internet was born 16 years ago in Japan

Galapagos-Syndrome: NTT Docomo failed to capture global value

On February 22, 1999, the mobile internet was born when Mari Matsunaga, Takeshi Natsuno and Keiichi Enoki launched Docomo’s i-Mode to a handful of people who had made the effort to the Press Conference introducing Docomo’s new i-Mode service. KDDI soon followed with EZweb, and J-Phone with Jsky (J-Phone was acquired by Vodafone, which was unable to manage J-Phone, Vodafone then sold the company to SoftBank).

i-Mode’s popularity soon exceeded any expectation: Docomo for some periods had to limit new subscriptions.

With Steve Jobs’ love for Japan, and Apple’s intense supplier relationships with Japan, its not farfetched to see connections between i-Mode and iPhone, in particular the i-Mode ecosystem and Java-based i-Appli’s are forerunners of today’s apps and apps-ecosystems.

At that time there was no Wikipedia, and Docomo had no English-language website at all, so our company Eurotechnology Japan KK’s information was more or less the only English language information openly available about i-Mode. We were bombarded by requests from many major semiconductor firms, telecom operators, investment banks, students and world-famous business schools for our i-Mode report and related business development and strategic work.

Learn about Japan’s telecom markets: read the 65th edition of our report.

Today 5 of the global top-10 top-grossing Apps are Japanese

While Docomo never managed to capture global value from inventing and first introducing the mobile internet, the No. 1 top-grossing company globally, and five of the top-10 globally top-grossing Apps for iOS and Google-Play combined are Japanese (source: App-Annie).

Japan’s app market is the world’s largest in terms of cash revenues

Its also no coincidence that in terms of cash value, Japan’s is the world’s largest app-market for iOS and Google-Play combined, bigger than the US market and the Chinese market in terms of cash value. (source: App-Annie).

App-Annie’s data to our knowledge only cover the iOS and Google-Play app-stores, not the i-Mode and other mobile internet businesses, so Japan’s actual mobile app economy is even larger than App-Annie data show.

Which are the top-grossing apps in Japan?

i-Mode is still alive and kicking – and a big business for Docomo

i-Mode is still today the mobile internet system for Docomo’s traditional flip-phones which are still an important part of the market, and recently made headlines since sales for traditional flip-phones were rising, while smartphone sales were (temporarly?) dropping.

i-Mode (and EZweb for KDDI, and Yahoo-mobile for SoftBank) will still be important business for some time to come in Japan.

Copyright (c) 2015 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Mobile

Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in Japan

Mobile number portability created winners and losers in only two months – the main business challenge for Japanese operators is to avoid a price war.

KDDI is the clear winner in the first round, DoCoMo suffers a setback, and SoftBank (which acquired Vodafone-Japan) did better than expected.

Today we released the 23rd edition of our JCOMM-Report – about 250 pages of overview and analysis of Japan’s telecom sector.

KDDI gains 524,000 subscribers in Oct & Nov 2006. DoCoMo for the first time ever since it was founded experienced a net loss of subscriptions.

Net gain/loss of Japan's mobile operators at introduction of mobile number portability (MNP)
Net gain/loss of Japan’s mobile operators at introduction of mobile number portability (MNP)

KDDI gains 600,000 new EZweb subscribers, Japanese operators earn much from mobile internet – subscription data show even better results for KDDI‘s EZweb.

gain/loss of subscriptions by Japanese mobile internet services during introduction of mobile number portability (MNP)
gain/loss of subscriptions by Japanese mobile internet services during introduction of mobile number portability (MNP)

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Mobile

NEW YEAR on i-Mode and EZ-web

Both docomo’s i-Mode and KDDI’s EZweb top menu pages display Season Greetings and reflect Japan’s seasonal mood: autumn sports days in schools, skiing in winter, Halloween and New Year.

Here are this year’s New Year greetings for the Year of the boar on i-mode and EZweb which were displayed from January 1, 2007 for a few days during Japan’s New Year vacation:

New Year 2007 on docomo's i-Mode and KDDI's EZweb mobile internet home pages
New Year 2007 on docomo’s i-Mode and KDDI’s EZweb mobile internet home pages

More about Japan’s mobile internet:

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Internet Mobile

Yahoo!-keitai replaces Vodafone-Live!

SoftBank replaced Vodafone-Live! by Yahoo!-Keitai. SoftBank phones have a “Y!”-button which links to Yahoo!-keitai. Yahoo-Keitai! offers a list of official sites, new services (e.g. a new communicator service), and also access to free mobile internet sites through the YAHOO directory, as well as access to YAHOO services, such as YAHOO-auctions.

SoftBank replaces Vodafone-Life by Yahoo!-keitai as part of the acquisition of Vodafone-Japan
SoftBank replaces Vodafone-Life by Yahoo!-keitai as part of the acquisition of Vodafone-Japan

YAHOO!-keitai is a fresh start to revive the mobile internet service, previously known as Vodafone-Live!, and which had been losing market share to competitors i-Mode and EZweb for about 4 years. Previous to the Vodafone-Live! period, Jsky had been successful in gaining market share both from i-Mode and EZweb.

Market share in Japan's mobile internet market: Vodafone-Life was continuously losing market share before it was acquired by SoftBank, while KDDI's EZweb was winning market share over several years
Market share in Japan’s mobile internet market: Vodafone-Life was continuously losing market share before it was acquired by SoftBank, while KDDI’s EZweb was winning market share over several years

Understand Softbank: our report: “SoftBank today and 300 year vision”

pdf file, approx 120 pages, 47 figures 18 photos, 7 tables

Copyright 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Mobile

Wireless internet grows by about 0.5 million/month in Japan

Japan’s mobile internet is a growth market with about 0.5 Million new subscriptions/month – Japan’s mobile internet grows by about one Finland per year, and even more in terms of ARPU!

This growth today is shared almost 50%/50% between DoCoMo’s i-Mode and KDDI’s EZweb.

Vodafone’s subscriber numbers on the other hand have been more or less stable around zero growth.

Growth of mobile internet subscriptions for DoCoMo's i-Mode and KDDI's EZweb combined stabilizes at 0.5 million/month, while Jsky stopped growing after acquisition by Vodafone and renaming to Vodafone-Live!
Growth of mobile internet subscriptions for DoCoMo’s i-Mode and KDDI’s EZweb combined stabilizes at 0.5 million/month, while Jsky stopped growing after acquisition by Vodafone and renaming to Vodafone-Live!

Copyright·©2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

Categories
Mobile

Japan’s mobile subscriber data for March 2005

March is the month when new subscriptions peak in Japan. During March 2005 around one million new subscribers signed up for mobile services in Japan, the net gain (new subscriptions minus cancellations) was 930,500. New subscribers were shared as follows between carriers:

DoCoMo: + 480,200 (+ 51.6%)
KDDI/AU: + 436,100 (+ 46.9%)
WILLCOM: + 33,300 (+ 3.6%)
KDDI/TuKa: – 2,600 (- 0.3%)
Vodafone: -7,400 (-0.8%) (previous counting method: -58,400)
Astel: – 9,100 (- 1.0%)

TOTAL: + 930,500 (100%)

Vodafone announced a new method to calculate numbers. Without this new way of calculating, Vodafone’s loss would have been: -58,400

Net growth (loss) of subscribers per month for Japan's mobile operators - Vodafone drops into the red, losing subscribers despite a new way of counting them
Net growth (loss) of subscribers per month for Japan’s mobile operators – Vodafone drops into the red, losing subscribers despite a new way of counting them

Net growth (loss) of mobile internet subscribers (i-Mode, EZweb and Vodafone Live!): since Vodafone renamed Jsky to Vodafone Live!, its rapidly losing market share
Net growth (loss) of mobile internet subscribers (i-Mode, EZweb and Vodafone Live!): since Vodafone renamed Jsky to Vodafone Live!, its rapidly losing market share

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