Masayoshi Yoshino, president of Goma Books, said in his opening remarks, "We never imagined it would take off like this, and are just astounded. This all started the year before last, when we consulted with Mahô i-land about a publication to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of our company. More than three million cell phone novels have been published so far this year. I want to establish this not simply as a fad, but as a new kind of culture."
A mobile phone novel typically contains between 200 and 500 pages, with each page containing about 500 Japanese characters. The novels are read on a cell phone screen page by page, the way one would surf the web, and are downloadable for around $10 each. The first mobile phone novel was written six years ago by fiction writer Yoshi, but the trend picked up in the last couple years when high-school girls with no previous publishing experience started posting stories they wrote on community portals for others to download and read on their cell phones.
The Economist has caught-on to the growth of mobile novels in Japan noting; “with sales of books in decline, a new market has come as a godsend to Japan’s publishing companies. Sales of mobile-phone
novels—books that you download and read, usually in instalments, on the screen of your keitai, or mobile phone—have jumped from nothing five years ago to over ¥10 billion ($82m) a year today and are still growing fast.” BusinessWeek ran a good op-ed on this subject last month as well.
When we started Feed2Mobile some weeks ago, we thought about offering an easy and straightforward way for people to get from a blog to a mobile website - with a QR Code on top - to offer a similar experience as with the mobile Kaywa Blogs. Although the mobile Kaywa blogs have several additional features like comments, archive, gallery etc., the post content seemed ok for a start.
Our second idea was that people can search existing feeds, create new ones and even bookmark their feeds right on their mobile.
Even more interesting though was that french guy from Chronopost which put his parcel's RSS feed on Feed2Mobile. Then there is the weather forecast from West Springfield, Massachusetts or the Earthquakes over 2.5+ at USGS .
Even if Feed2Mobile is still in it's infancy, it seems to give people an easy to use tool and we can learn from their needs.
TinyTube which lost its parent recently (see Katie's GigaOm story) also offers streaming, but it didn't work on my Nokia 6630 . The preinstalled RealPlayer was opened, but it said: "unable to connect".
At the same time I was asked, with what formats you can do mobile streaming. As we did so far mobile down- and uploads of 3GP Files (.3gp) and online streaming, my response was that you can stream also with 3GP Files (.3gp), but that you need Real-time Transport Protocol/Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTP/RTSP) and a Streaming Server to do it (see Apple's streaming solution).
If someone can point me to good links concerning mobile streaming, I will happily add them here.
The real game in town is not online. It's a skirmish. The real game is mobile phones. If your mobile phone is a portable computer, which has got all the facilities of an iPod and a radio, and a TV, with some limits on their memory but as time goes it'll have huge memory. But you need access to everything.
Update about and worthwhile criticism of the Jenner interview on Techcrunch:
I agree with Jenner that the music labels have “raped their own business model” and are in a very difficult situation. The projections that CD sales will decline by 50% over the next few years sound about right to me, given the alternatives that people have online.
But I do not think that the government should step in and help these people. I do not think that we should legislate a tax on broadband Internet access and mobile phones that gives the music industry guaranteed revenue, and guaranteed profits, while simultaneously removing their incentive to innovate and serve niche markets.
Asking the government to prop up a dying industry is always (always) a bad idea. In this case, it is a monumentally stupid, dangerous, and bad idea.
While “mobile content” is a pretty large bucket with which to classify a lot of these companies, the trend isn’t too hard to miss: phone companies are struggling to grow data revenues while the margins on voice are disappearing, cell phones are becoming computing devices, and the growth of wireless broadband is providing the connection. Now all they need is the stuff to sell over the pipes.
For Japan's publishing industry, which has endured a decade of declining sales, the boom is "a savior," says Satoshi Iwamoto, the general manager of Net Media Center at Shogakukan Inc. The market for digital publishing grew nearly fourfold compared with the year before, to $38.5 million in March 2006, according to Impress R&D, a Tokyo-based research firm. Comic books account for $19.6 million, compared with $9.4 million for comics on PCs.
Mobile comics, for which viewers pay 30 or 40 cents an episode, are also a boon to Japanese carriers, whose customers are shifting to fixed-rate plans.