Japanese TV innovator Garapon to explore opportunities in the Philippines

Garapon TV 4th Model
Garapon TV 4th Model

Japanese startup Garapon is based out of Akihabara, a hardware startup hub for Japan as well as a “pilgrimage destination” for nerds. Since its launch back in 2010 by Ayumu Yasuda, former Yahoo Japan business developer, the company has been developing TV set-top boxes connecting to the internet, allowing users to play recorded videos on TV as well as to stream them to their tablets or smartphones over Wi-Fi or 3G/4G connection.

Unlike typical video recorders requiring timer-based recording reservations, the Garapon TV recorder simultaneously retains broadcast recordings from up to eight TV channels for the last 120 days (the maximum length depends on how high the resolution has been set on the user preference menu) so users will never miss recording TV shows and can keep watching a weekly drama series aired by a terrestrial local TV channel even when traveling or moving abroad.

Garapon TV can simultaneously record and display eight terrestrial TV channels live over the internet.
(This image is intentionally modified to protect the rights of content owners.)

I thought that the company was focused solely on the Japanese market since TV broadcasting systems differ by country, such as NTSC, PAL and SECAM, which are non-interoperable with each others. However, he recently dropped me a line and told me that he has decided to go on a tour of the Philippines this week. He explained that how many markets there are in Southeast Asia:

Unlike the days when TV programs were being broadcast in analog, many countries have adopted a common standard for digital TV broadcasting, which is ISDB-T, or the The Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestrial. The Philippines also uses ISDB-T so our solution is available even there upon adjusting the software.

In order to adjust the software and develop an optimized edition for the Philippines, I will place our device in Manila to receive TV signals from local broadcasters so we can further develop it from Tokyo over the internet.

In addition to allowing users to play recorded TV programs on mobiles regardless of no matter where they are, the Garapon TV recorder keeps recording subtitles (for hearing impaired) and electronic program guide data in synchronization with videos; with this users can play and jump to a specific cue point within recorded programs by entering keywords.

Garapon CEO Ayumu Yasuda introduces the Garapon TV 4th model at the press briefing (August, 2014).

In Japan, they have sold over 13,000 Garapon TV recorders to consumers to date, recently gaining a high reputation for their online community site for TV afficianados.

Yasuda continued:

Now is the right time for us to expand into the Philippines since we understand that terrestrial digital TV broadcasting started there as late as last February.

According to my research, we can target over 10 million Overseas Filipino workers as potential users. They are working away from home and remit their wages to their family back home, earning as many as 13% of GDP for the country. They must miss local TV programs from their hometowns. […] We are finding local partners in the Philippines, aiming to offer the service for a monthly subscription fee ranging from 300 to 500 pesos (about US$7 to $11).

Yasuda and his team will stay in Manila from July 9th to 17th, discussing with potential local business partners or supporters. If you are interested in working with the company, feel free to contact him at ayumu [at] garapon.tv.

Garapon TV has fundraised from Japanese companies like Broadmedia and Mitsui Global Investment as well as Kronos Fund [1], and has also turned profitable.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

  1. Kronos Fund is an investment fund by Japanese investor Taiga Matsuyama.