The iPhone service offers over 22.000 ebooks, including about 16.000 mangas in a very wide range and from most famous Japanese publishers. The release dates and the purchase prices are exactly the same like the printed versions but some special online-only offers will be available soon.
All eBooks can be purchased directly from the phone by VISA card and through several popular Japanese eCash and online banking services. The service uses a special ebook reader which is not yet available for ordinary Japanese mobile phones. Therefore the typical payment methods for Japanese cell phones, like payment via phone bill or in the convinience store are not available. ( The new iPhone firmware will open doors for new distribution channels soon.)
Time will prove if the ECO-trendy Japanese are willing to pay the same price for the digital version and what manga collectors think about that service. For all jam-packed houses in Japan and all subways and trains, where thousands of mangas are thrown away after a single read-through every day, a trend to digital manga consumption would definately be a big relief!
And all manga fans around the world should listen up! Your beloved art works are accessable from around the world now! Just download them directly to your iPhone or iPod touch and enjoy them on their release date. Of course some Japaneses proficiency is assumed for reading the original Japanese material, but I guess high access from abroad can be assumed as soon as some finds out about it. Maybe this blog entry will give it’s part to it!
Japanese consumers want exclusivity and constant updates of product lines! That’s a big difference to Western markets, where product quality is mostly equal to long-time usage. In Japan, customers are spoiled and demand constant improvements, the highest quality, and the best service. Every mobile carrier releases new lines of mobile phones (15-20 models) in a wide range of colors and special editions every three months. In the entertainment business it’s the same. Every three months, comedians, TV shows, and dramas are also radically changed. Japanese Pop musicians who don’t release any video clip, single or CD for several weeks soon find themselves replaced by other artists.
OK, back to mobile. Softbank introduced a new service exclusively to Softbank users. Their slogan says: “The most interesting comedy can be seen on TV? Not at all! It’s more likely to be the mobile phone!” (いちばんオモシロイお笑いが見られるのは、テレビ？いや、ケータイかもよ。）
The service is called ‘S-1 Battle‘ and provides not only exclusive Japanese comedy (Monomane, Konto, Rakugo etc.) content from famous comedians, but let’s the users compare and rate these comedian’s performance. The site is made up like a K1-like battle ground. Every day, two comedians compete against each other. The champions of each month will battle at a live event at the end of the year. The total prize money for fighters in 2009 is 2.3 million dollars, the monthly champion will get $100.000 and all Softbank users have chances to win prices every month. So if you are lucky, a Softbank user and like Japanese comedy, scan the code below and enjoy the fight!
Finally, one week after docomo and Softbank, au, Japan’s second biggest mobile carrier, unleashed their summer line up 2009. All together Japan’s summer trend phones consist of 55 new handsets in over 60 different colors. Beside updates for existing lines, some outstanding models shall be introduced and put into trends in the following.
Trend 1: ECO & Outdoor Health The biggest trend for Japan’s next generation of mobile phones is definately eco-friendliness. Besides the recent regulation of standardized rechargers for each charrier and other ECO projects like the ‘Green Road Project‘ from au, handset makers do all effort to produce low power consuming devices that are designed for outdoor use and sport activities.
With the introduction of the waterproofed solar phones, the SOLAR HYBRID 936SH for Softbank and the SOLAR PHONE SH002 for au KDDI, Sharp takes the first step to wireless charging. Both phones claim to deliver one minute of talk time for every 10 minutes of solar charge time. Up to 80% of the battery is said to be chargable only by solar sensors. I guess not only all iPhone users, but travellers and business men wished that feature would have been implemented in their battery consuming devices as well.
Trend 2: Study and Read Toshiba, who just announced they would quite the cell phone business in Japan due to high competition, released ‘biblio’, a special phone optimized to read ebooks and mangas from au’s bookstore in astionishing quality. Not only the 3.5 inch LCD display with the world highest mobile phone resolution of 960 x 480 (Japanese media refers to as Full WVGA++) is a highlight, it’s also the first Japanese phone with a slide out full QWERTY keyboard in landscape mode and a big internal memory of 7gb. Additional up to 8gb can be adjusted via SD card. WLAN functionality and 19 pre-installed dictionaries make biblio a perfect study device.
Trend 3: X-media Another highlight is the Mobile Hi-Vision CAM WOOO by Hitachi. Japan’s first mobile phone with HD-camera (5 megapixel; 720p @ 30fps) claims to to be the perfect bridge between TV, mobile phone and PC. Movie content can be watched and transfered directly (HDMI-on board) from the phone to any supported device. There’s no reason to buy a camorder in temporary Japan any more!
Trend4: Connecting Family
Another innovative product is the mobile email enabled 7inch digital photo frame produced by Huawei for Softbank. The so called Photo Vision HW001 is available with a flat-rate monthly fee of about $5 (incl. device) and has its own telephone number. Pictures from mobile phones can be send via mail directly to the frame, which displays the latest photo or slidshows of family members. Grandparents will never have to wait for pictures of their beloved ones from now on!
And again Japan sets mobile lifestyle trends: ECO, HEALTH, STUDY, CROSSMEDIA and CONNECTIVITY.
As a pioneer Japan implements the first generation of solar powered mobile phones. Waterproofed devices together with mobile fitness services like au’s ‘Run & Walk‘ enforce people to be body and health conscious. In an aging society it’s very important to keep on track, work out, study and stay connected with family and friends. Mobile phones around the world improved a lot due to the spread of 3G and smartphones, but in Japan mobile lifestyle is the highest in the world and touches all that important fields of aging societies. The new generation of phones in Japan proved again that not only the quality of the devices is the crucial factor, but rich content and services provided by the mobile carriers. Even in recession these latest phones, which started selling from today, will spread very quickly and enhance the mobile lifstyle once again.
The world famous psychedelic-anime artist Takashi Murakami shocked the world in 2003, when he and Mark Jacobs designed the colorful ‘MONOCHROME MULTICOLOR’ series for Louis Vuitton. ‘SUPERFLAT MONOGRAM’, the promotion video for that series, became one of the most remarkable pieces of advertising art of the 21th century.
6 years later Takashi Murakami is starting a new revolution. Again for Louis Vuitton he created designs for the new ‘MULTICOLORE SPRING PALETTE’ spring series. Therefore Murakami created a new promo animation, called ‘SUPERFLAT FIRST LOVE’ which will be launched on Aprl 28th exclusive on Louis Vuitton’s new mobile site. Access to the site is provided through a revolutionary designed QR- code, which invites to ‘the fantasy world of Takashi Murakami and Louis Vuitton’.
Colored QR-codes with simple clip-arts are widely known in Japan, but this new QR-code combines high art and functionality and brings QR-code design to a new level. Amazingly also old phones we tried could read that code quick without any problem.
In the near future we can expect many imitators of this new art form and therefore project a future of even more colorful and artistic mobile advertising.
BUT WAIT!!! We actually predicted this years ago. Already in 2006 CyberMedia created QR-codes for example for the German Airline Lufthansa in the same style.
Louis Vuitton’s new campaign is themed “From Japan to the World”. Like many new lifestyle trends coming from Japan, this might also spill over to the western market soon and bring new advertising possibilities. Maybe it even revoltutionize the mobile culture of today.
The ‘AU Design Project‘ always surprises with unique and simply designed phones like the INFOBAR, INFOBAR II, talby, neon or MEDIA SKIN.
Now the first phone of their new premium mobile brand ‘iida’ is hitting the shelves. ‘iida’: stands for “innovation, imagination, design and art” and at least 3 innovative models are expected to come.
The first release is the ‘G9’ slider by Sony Ericsson. The minimalistic designed phone has all the latest phone features and is one of the view phones from AU that can be used worldwide in over 150 countries. The phone is available for 1845yen (19$) per month with payment by installment for two years, or at once 48.000yen (495%) for a basic 2year contract. The battery charger is sold separately for ecologic reasons, like on most of Japanese phones nowadays. The charger itself is held in a green ECO design with attached leaves.
The additionally available ‘Pico projector’ transforms the G9 into a mobile presenter. This mobile projector also fits to several other au models and can be bought for 50.000 (500$). As a special promotion everybody who buys the new G9, will receive an online access code to a mobile site where they can get a 60% discount for the projector. The mobile projector will then only cost 19.000yen (196$).
The next phone which will come out is going to be the ‘Misora’ clamshell phone, which was produced in stylish collaboration with Yayoi Kusama. Her typical ‘polka dots’ and a special keitai-strap, which makes the phone look like a small designer handbag, are the characteristics of this new lifestyle concept.
This summer in June AU will also introduce the solar-powered concept model bt SHARP, which was on display AS A CONCEPT PHONE during CEATEC 2008. AU claims that 80% of the battery can be charged by the solar cells on the phone. The next generation’s mobile trend is therefore obvious: ECO CHARGING and ECO LIFESTYLE.