THE BRIDGE

Takeshi Hirano

Takeshi Hirano

Takeshi is a Japanese tech blogger and a co-founder of The Bridge, and is also the CEO for bootupAsia, Inc. He started his career as a web designer.

Articles

Japanese mobile livestreaming app TwitCasting raises $634,000

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese mobile livestreaming app TwitCasting announced today that it has raised 64.8 million yen (approximately $634,000) from East Ventures, as well as Japanese serial entrepreneur Masao Ito who runs a web traffic analysis startup called User Local. In addition, East Ventures’ co-founding partner Taiga Matsuyama and Masao Ito will join the board of directors for TwitCasting. TwitCasting was launched back in February of 2010 by Moi Corp. When we got in touch with the company back in March, CEO Yoski Akamatsu explained that the app’s userbase has significantly grown since the latter half of 2012, acquiring more than 200,000 users every month. The number of users is currently 2.4 million, and it’s expected to surpass 4 million by the end of this fiscal year. As the userbase continues to skyrocket, the startup has been suffering from a lack of resources in terms of infrastructure management and system developments. Akamatsu explains that they decided to pursue funding to intensify engineering resources so they could improve the service’s back-end. He added: If our user base keep growing at this pace, it will definitely be about 4 million people soon. With this funding, we will hire more engineers and form a sound…

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See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese mobile livestreaming app TwitCasting announced today that it has raised 64.8 million yen (approximately $634,000) from East Ventures, as well as Japanese serial entrepreneur Masao Ito who runs a web traffic analysis startup called User Local. In addition, East Ventures’ co-founding partner Taiga Matsuyama and Masao Ito will join the board of directors for TwitCasting.

TwitCasting was launched back in February of 2010 by Moi Corp. When we got in touch with the company back in March, CEO Yoski Akamatsu explained that the app’s userbase has significantly grown since the latter half of 2012, acquiring more than 200,000 users every month. The number of users is currently 2.4 million, and it’s expected to surpass 4 million by the end of this fiscal year.

As the userbase continues to skyrocket, the startup has been suffering from a lack of resources in terms of infrastructure management and system developments. Akamatsu explains that they decided to pursue funding to intensify engineering resources so they could improve the service’s back-end. He added:

If our user base keep growing at this pace, it will definitely be about 4 million people soon. With this funding, we will hire more engineers and form a sound development team. When we actually reach the target [of 4 million], we will look ahead to our next goal.

Taiga Matsuyama added his thoughts:

I’ve known Yoski since 2006, and his expertise are admired [by many other engineers]. The service’s user base is also rapidly growing and has also penetrated the overseas market as well. We’ll work with him to help them accelerate their business much further. I believe TwitCasting is a rare but precious startup that has big potential in the English-speaking community or even in the Asian region.

Interestingly, they actually are seeing 10% of their traffic coming from Brazil. Yoski isn’t exactly sure why this is the case, but he also related a curious story about how traffic saw a big drop at when school started in April in Japan.

I called it “the school-entry season shock”. Most likely our users must be busy making new friends, so that they didn’t set aside time to livecast [with the app].

Currently Twitcasting is getting revenue from advertising and charging paid users. In terms the breakdown of mobile platforms, they have a more traffic from Android than iPhone.

Japanese crowdsourcing marketplace Lancers raises $2.9 million

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese crowsourcing marketplace Lancers announced today that it has raised 300 million yen ($2.9 million) from Globis Capital Partners (GCP) and GMO Venture Partners (GMO-VP). Coinciding with this funding, GCP partner Shinichi Takamiya has joined Lancers’ the board of directors. Readers may recall that we previously wrote about Lancers back in April. Since the service launched in 2008, it has acquired about 140,000 members (crowdsourced workers) and has transactioned about 7 billion yen ($68.3 million). The amount of the transactions reached 3.5 billion yen ($34.2 million) in the previous fiscal year, which is same amount as its total dealings up to that point (i.e. from 2008 and 2011). The company recently moved its headquarters from Shibuya to Kamakura, just outside of Tokyo. Why now? Lancers’ CEO Yosuke Akiyoshi explained why they raised funds at this particular point: Our business is growing well, and we’re not suffering from cash flow issues. However, we made up our minds to fundraise so we can massively speed up our business at this time. […] Now we need to focus on standardizing the format of crowdsourcing projects. By enhancing its database of crowdsourcing workers, the startup is now exploring…

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See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese crowsourcing marketplace Lancers announced today that it has raised 300 million yen ($2.9 million) from Globis Capital Partners (GCP) and GMO Venture Partners (GMO-VP). Coinciding with this funding, GCP partner Shinichi Takamiya has joined Lancers’ the board of directors. Readers may recall that we previously wrote about Lancers back in April.

Since the service launched in 2008, it has acquired about 140,000 members (crowdsourced workers) and has transactioned about 7 billion yen ($68.3 million). The amount of the transactions reached 3.5 billion yen ($34.2 million) in the previous fiscal year, which is same amount as its total dealings up to that point (i.e. from 2008 and 2011).

The company recently moved its headquarters from Shibuya to Kamakura, just outside of Tokyo.

Why now?

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Lancers’ CEO Yosuke Akiyoshi

Lancers’ CEO Yosuke Akiyoshi explained why they raised funds at this particular point:

Our business is growing well, and we’re not suffering from cash flow issues. However, we made up our minds to fundraise so we can massively speed up our business at this time. […] Now we need to focus on standardizing the format of crowdsourcing projects.

By enhancing its database of crowdsourcing workers, the startup is now exploring partnerships with other category-focused crowdsourcing services such as ADFlow (crowdsourcing banner ad design) or MugenUp (crowdsouring illustration or cartoon-drawing work).

Cultivating local workers in local markets

Regarding expanding their business in local markets, he explains:

In order to make our business grow further, I believe it’s also important to help freelancers grow. They aren’t our employees but we need to invest in cultivating these workforces. If you compare outsourcing tasks to overseas markets with doing so in local markets, there will be no significant gap in terms of cost. But there’s a big gap in the volume of the tasks between the two. We’d like to gather more users and partners by promoting the new freelance working style as well as our own platform.

The startup is planning to launch a new system in the future, where they will conduct interviews to find potential leaders among freelancers at many locations across the country. They will be approved as ‘qualified freelancers’ and lead projects with other workers located at various locations.

People typically see crowdsourcing as a sort of quick and dirty solution. To overcome this stigma, Akiyoshi plans to increase the amount of quality deals on the marketplace.

We actually get more offers from corporate users, [although] we’re haven’t intensified our sales efforts. Once a company uses our service, we’ve seen that its subsidiaries or group companies follow suit.

The company also plans to provide further support to workers, with health insurance or welfare services, and from a freelancer’s point of view that certainly helps make this sort of work become an attractive option.

Japanese knowledge sharing site Qiita could reach as many as half the nation’s programmers

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See the original story in Japanese. Qiita is a knowledge sharing platform for programmers, a place where they can exchange information and code snippets in order to learn from each other. It has been growing well too, as Increments Inc (the company behind Qiita) announced yesterday that the platform has reached the 20,000 user milestone, boasting about 220,000 monthly unique visitors too. Coinciding with this announcement, the startup also launched brand new service called ‘Qiita Team’, which allows users to share knowledge among a closed group. Qiita was initially launched back in September of 2011, as part of the fourth batch of Open Network Lab incubation program. Of course on a global level, Github is the social coding community with almost 3 million engineers — but there is no overwhelming favorite in Japan [1]. Qiita is quite niche but is dominating this space for now. Interestingly, according to the startup’s designer and co-founder Tomoya Konishi, recent surveys indicate that there are about 400,000 programmers working in the Japanese IT industry [2]. Given that Qiita’s total monthly unique visitors is 220,000, that roughly accounts for 50% of the entire population of Japanese programmers. In addition to Qiita Team, the company has…

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See the original story in Japanese.

Qiita is a knowledge sharing platform for programmers, a place where they can exchange information and code snippets in order to learn from each other. It has been growing well too, as Increments Inc (the company behind Qiita) announced yesterday that the platform has reached the 20,000 user milestone, boasting about 220,000 monthly unique visitors too.

Coinciding with this announcement, the startup also launched brand new service called ‘Qiita Team’, which allows users to share knowledge among a closed group.

Qiita was initially launched back in September of 2011, as part of the fourth batch of Open Network Lab incubation program. Of course on a global level, Github is the social coding community with almost 3 million engineers — but there is no overwhelming favorite in Japan [1]. Qiita is quite niche but is dominating this space for now.

Interestingly, according to the startup’s designer and co-founder Tomoya Konishi, recent surveys indicate that there are about 400,000 programmers working in the Japanese IT industry [2]. Given that Qiita’s total monthly unique visitors is 220,000, that roughly accounts for 50% of the entire population of Japanese programmers.

In addition to Qiita Team, the company has also launched a job/talent matching site called ‘Qiita Carrer’. But how does the company intend to monetize all these services? Konishi explains:

Qitta Career is a gateway for our partner recruiting companies which might be a suitable fit for our users as they advance their careers. We’re currently exploring other business models too by adding some features.

If Qiita can reach half of the country’s programmers, the startup likely has a promising future.

qiita


  1. Although Github itself is certainly a favorite here too.  ↩

  2. The figure comes from a white paper on IT human resources in Japan by Japan’s IT Promotion Agency.  ↩

Japanese fashion startup Muse & Co raises $3.4 million

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See the original story in Japanese. Here’s more news from Japan’s fashion commerce space. Apparel-focused, flash marketing startup Muse & Co has announced that it has raised series B funding worth 350 million yen, or about $3.4 million. Investors include Itochu Technology Ventures, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and Infinity Ventures Partners (IVP). According to IVP’s managing partner Masashi Kobayashi, this round brings the total money raised by the startup to a sum of approximately 500 million yen ($5 million). Previously, IVP invested in the startup back in May of 2012. Consumers love fashion startups To see a seed-stage startup fundraise such a huge amount, it reminds us that there’s a real trend emerging at the intersection of fashion, e-commerce, and smartphones. Some of our readers will remember, for example, mobile commerce startup Origami also raised about the same amount last month. Muse & Co is a members-only flash sale site that gives users a substantial discount off the market price for a limited time. In Japan, there are some similar sites in this space. Gilt Groupe has been operating a joint venture with Softbank since 2008. Other competitors include Glamour Sales, Brands for Friends, and Monoco. According to startup’s CEO Hirotake…

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See the original story in Japanese.

Here’s more news from Japan’s fashion commerce space. Apparel-focused, flash marketing startup Muse & Co has announced that it has raised series B funding worth 350 million yen, or about $3.4 million. Investors include Itochu Technology Ventures, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and Infinity Ventures Partners (IVP).

According to IVP’s managing partner Masashi Kobayashi, this round brings the total money raised by the startup to a sum of approximately 500 million yen ($5 million). Previously, IVP invested in the startup back in May of 2012.

Consumers love fashion startups

To see a seed-stage startup fundraise such a huge amount, it reminds us that there’s a real trend emerging at the intersection of fashion, e-commerce, and smartphones. Some of our readers will remember, for example, mobile commerce startup Origami also raised about the same amount last month.

Muse & Co is a members-only flash sale site that gives users a substantial discount off the market price for a limited time. In Japan, there are some similar sites in this space. Gilt Groupe has been operating a joint venture with Softbank since 2008. Other competitors include Glamour Sales, Brands for Friends, and Monoco.

According to startup’s CEO Hirotake Kubo, Muse & Co targets the so-called ‘F1 layer’ in Japan (female users in their 20s and early 30s), thus differentiating from conventional competitors. In terms of differentiation from similar smartphones services, they expect to showcase items in the casual fashion category, which may be not so sophisticated but better suited to wearing on a day-to-day basis.

Over $500,000 in monthly sales, 70% traffic from mobile

Muse & Co sells merchandise on commission and has no inventory stocked at all. They showcase clothes from three brands every day, and in total about 30 new items are sold every day. The duration of the flash sale is usually about seven days, but most items sell out on the first day. Their flash marketing starts at 8pm every day, the peak time for user traffic.

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Kubo explains that the site’s monthly revenue has reached around 50 million yen, with 50% coming from mobile, and 20% from the smartphone app. They’ve never made any promotion efforts for smartphone users, so it’s not unlikely that these access metrics (in terms of mobile/desktop ratio) are common for most e-commerce sites in Japan.

A good start

Muse & Co was established back in February of 2012. The startup’s founder, Hirotake Kubo, previously worked at global consulting firm AT Kearney, where he has been conducting due diligence on the apparel industry for five years.

From my experience seeing the apparel industry, I wanted to help domestic fashion brands solve the problems they’re facing. Beyond that, I also want to contribute to the strengthening of our economy.

Currently Muse & Co is 20-person team including 5 merchandising staffers. They have acquired approximately 200,000 users since launch, and are hoping to surpass 1 million users in the near future.

NTT Docomo unveils the first 6 startups for its new incubation program

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See the original story in Japanese. NTT Docomo held a kick-off event for its incubation program today, unveiling six startups chosen for its first batch. The program, which was first announced back in February, selected these six from 124 applicants. The startups are to be incubated and mentored for the next five months. Here’s a quick run down of the chosen six: Easeeat by Willmore This service helps consumers buy allergy-free food products at supermarkets. They presented last year at our pitch event, and we’re delighted to see them among those selected. The new app appears to be based on its previous app, Allergy Checker (pictured above), which allowed you to scan a barcode on the product’s package, and then it tells you the ingredients and whether or not its safe for you. Pairy by Timers This couples app is a sort of Japanese alternative to Couple (US & UK) or Between (Korea), specializes in establishing communication just for couples. It’s already live, and has plans to extend its business to online-to-offline marketing and e-commerce services. Some of our readers may recall that they presented at Myojo Waraku in Fukuoka last years. Nanovel by Gadget This service aggregates short novels authored…

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See the original story in Japanese.

NTT Docomo held a kick-off event for its incubation program today, unveiling six startups chosen for its first batch. The program, which was first announced back in February, selected these six from 124 applicants. The startups are to be incubated and mentored for the next five months.

Here’s a quick run down of the chosen six:

Easeeat by Willmore

allergychecker_screenshot2

This service helps consumers buy allergy-free food products at supermarkets. They presented last year at our pitch event, and we’re delighted to see them among those selected. The new app appears to be based on its previous app, Allergy Checker (pictured above), which allowed you to scan a barcode on the product’s package, and then it tells you the ingredients and whether or not its safe for you.

Pairy by Timers

pairy_screenshot

This couples app is a sort of Japanese alternative to Couple (US & UK) or Between (Korea), specializes in establishing communication just for couples. It’s already live, and has plans to extend its business to online-to-offline marketing and e-commerce services. Some of our readers may recall that they presented at Myojo Waraku in Fukuoka last years.

Nanovel by Gadget

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This service aggregates short novels authored by professional writers and dramatists. Each of the stories are shorter than 2,000 Japanese characters long, so readers won’t take more than five minutes to finish. It’s good material for avid readers to fill up spare ‘in-between’ time, in much the same way that casual gaming does.

Coromo

Using NFC (near-frequency communication) technology, this service allows users to design their smartphone home screen easily, with the idea of using it for advertising purposes. The team aims to build a platform where Android phone users can exchange home screen designs each other.

Funpicty (tentative name) by Soda

This service allows users to mix up pictures shot by various photo apps, and then share them with others. (Sorry, but not too many more details beyond this were disclosed.)

DecoAlbum by Prime Again

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This app lets you share your photos with your friends, giving you the ability to decorate with them numerous effects and features.

Foursquare has 240M check-ins in Japan, will leverage its big data for next business phase

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This is a part of our coverage of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013. See the original story in Japanese. Foursquare debuted at SxSW in 2009. Its gamification elements (check-ins, mayor, badges) made it a smash hit all around the world. Now four years since its launch, the company is ready for the next phase of its business. At B Dash Camp 2013 in Fukuoka yesterday, Holger Luedorf, the head of business development at Foursquare, explained what’s on the horizon for the location-based app. In the process he revealed some interesting figures about their userbase, as well as some metrics for Japan. Big data makes predictive search possible Holger began his talk with a screen capture from when he arrived in Fukuoka, showing him that everyone was inviting friends to lunch. Recommendations for restaurants popped up as it was almost noon. He explains that when he is located far from his home, the app detects that he is on a trip and presents him with nearby sightseeing spots. When he checked in at Grand Hyatt (the venue of for event), the app suggested that visit a nearby Starbucks based on his check-in history. He noted that the latest version of the Foursquare…

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This is a part of our coverage of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013.

See the original story in Japanese.

Foursquare debuted at SxSW in 2009. Its gamification elements (check-ins, mayor, badges) made it a smash hit all around the world. Now four years since its launch, the company is ready for the next phase of its business.

At B Dash Camp 2013 in Fukuoka yesterday, Holger Luedorf, the head of business development at Foursquare, explained what’s on the horizon for the location-based app. In the process he revealed some interesting figures about their userbase, as well as some metrics for Japan.

Big data makes predictive search possible

Holger began his talk with a screen capture from when he arrived in Fukuoka, showing him that everyone was inviting friends to lunch. Recommendations for restaurants popped up as it was almost noon.

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He explains that when he is located far from his home, the app detects that he is on a trip and presents him with nearby sightseeing spots. When he checked in at Grand Hyatt (the venue of for event), the app suggested that visit a nearby Starbucks based on his check-in history.

He noted that the latest version of the Foursquare app is optimized for search functions, proposing some places to visit as well as finding destinations in the search box. The more your friends accumulate check-ins, the more precise the app will be when recommending places of interest.

240 million check-ins in Japan

Holger tells the audience that Foursquare has acquired 3.5 billion check-ins, 30 million users, 50 million points of interest, and 50 million public photos around the world.

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In Japan, Foursquare has 240 millions check-ins with 1.6 million total venues, all of which are user generated. The top venues for check-ins include Shinjuku Station, Akihabara Station, and Shibuya Station, as you can see in the slide above. When asked about their progress in Asia, Holger points out that they had good growth in the region in 2012, in places like Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. But recently Turkey, Brazil, and Russia have been growing the fastest. He explains:

The nice thing about being a social network is that most of our growth is really viral, so we don’t have anyone on the ground right now in Asia. But I think for finding developers who want to use our data, later on in the next phase we will seek partners for both the platform and the advertising side. I’m pretty confident we’ll have to work with partners here in Japan when it comes time for sales and monetization.

Foursquare’s big data shows people on the move

Holger also showed the following visualization illustrating the fluctuations of the people during the day in both New York and Tokyo. You can even make out the Yamanote Line if you look closely!

If you use any of the apps shown on the slide below, you’re also using Foursquare in a way, because they all make use of its data. Instagram uses Foursquare’s geotag, for example. Holger explained that they have 75 million API calls a day, and if you include all the users of these Foursquare-integrated apps, it totals about 100 million active users.

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Their API is used by 40,00 companies, including game developers who use it to build ‘real world’ games. There are also messaging services and navigation app providers. Holger explains that there are lots of interesting ways that people are using Foursquare data, in ways that the company wouldn’t have come up with itself.

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Japan’s Mobcast partners with 13 content providers, wants to dominate sports gaming on mobile

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See also the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based games company Mobcast announced on Monday that it has launched a sport-focused social gaming platform. The company also launched a distribution platform for Open Social-compatible apps called Mbc Connect, a payment solution for content providers called Mbc Wallet, and a knowledge base site for partnering developers. In addition to that, the company announced that it has partnered with 13 content developers including Konami Digital Entertainment, Koei Temco Games, as well as a Japanese pro baseball team. According to its financial statements for the fiscal period ending December 2012, Mobcast saw 5 billion yen (approximately $50 million) in revenue, which is 2.5 times what it was the previous year. User growth was not explosive but it did recently surpass 3 million users. We heard from Takashi Sato, the CSO (chief strategic officer) of Mobcast Inc. regarding the growth of the sports category in social gaming and their future international expansion. What differentiates the Mobcast platform from others like GREE or Mobage? We’ll be focusing on the sports category in gaming, and we want to partner with participating content providers to acquiring a userbase that loves sport. We’re hoping to work with as many companies as possible….

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See also the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based games company Mobcast announced on Monday that it has launched a sport-focused social gaming platform. The company also launched a distribution platform for Open Social-compatible apps called Mbc Connect, a payment solution for content providers called Mbc Wallet, and a knowledge base site for partnering developers.

In addition to that, the company announced that it has partnered with 13 content developers including Konami Digital Entertainment, Koei Temco Games, as well as a Japanese pro baseball team.

According to its financial statements for the fiscal period ending December 2012, Mobcast saw 5 billion yen (approximately $50 million) in revenue, which is 2.5 times what it was the previous year. User growth was not explosive but it did recently surpass 3 million users.

We heard from Takashi Sato, the CSO (chief strategic officer) of Mobcast Inc.
regarding the growth of the sports category in social gaming and their future international expansion.


What differentiates the Mobcast platform from others like GREE or Mobage?

We’ll be focusing on the sports category in gaming, and we want to partner with participating content providers to acquiring a userbase that loves sport. We’re hoping to work with as many companies as possible.

Considering your recent financials, how much potential do you think there is in the sport games market?

This category accounts for 15% of the entire gaming industry, so we need be in position to dominate the niche. I can’t disclose too much about business performance, but we’re thinking about what to do next to ensure our sustained growth.

Your company recently announced it had branched into the media business. It doesn’t account for much of your overall revenue, so why do this?

We thought it would be important to explore non-gaming services such as media, so we could acquire new users as well as the retain our existing ones. In the future, this will enhance our business channels, like e-commerce for example.

When you took over gaming company Entercrews, you spoke a bit about future international expansion, especially in the Asian region. What’s your plan?

We started overseas operations on March 28th. […] We’re seeing what difficulties are ahead for international services. We just landed in the Korean market and will start expansion to the rest of Asia very shortly. Considering that the World Cup is next year, we’re devoting ourselves to making our platform reach as many consumers as possible.

We expect to acquire 1 million users in Korea alone. To date, we’ve already acquired around 17,000 users in Korea, (just in the early phase).

Yoshiaki Maeda on how Docomo plans to tackle Japan’s smartphone app market

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See the original story in Japanese. This is a part of our coverage of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013. You can’t discuss the history of the Japanese mobile business without talking about i-mode. This is the featurephone content platform from NTT Docomo, which many content providers used to achieve significant growth and revenue. Of course in recent years, the market need has shifted to smartphones, especially the iPhone, and not many people have their their eyes on i-mode these days. But many of the ideas developed in i-mode live on. For example, Docomo’s competitor KDDI has had much success with SmartPass, a flat rate app subscription program similar to i-mode in terms of its subscription model. How exactly will Docomo respond to KDDI’s smartphone success so far? At B Dash Camp 2013 in Fukuoka yesterday, Yoshiaki Maeda, the managing director of smart communication services at NTT Docomo, explained a little about the company’s upcoming strategy, revealing a few interesting figures in the process. Docomo’s smartphone content sales generates $180 million a month To date, Docomo has acquired 18 million smartphone users. The figure is expected to reach 40 million by the end of 2014. Their smartphone content sales grew to a…

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See the original story in Japanese.

This is a part of our coverage of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013.

You can’t discuss the history of the Japanese mobile business without talking about i-mode. This is the featurephone content platform from NTT Docomo, which many content providers used to achieve significant growth and revenue.

Of course in recent years, the market need has shifted to smartphones, especially the iPhone, and not many people have their their eyes on i-mode these days. But many of the ideas developed in i-mode live on. For example, Docomo’s competitor KDDI has had much success with SmartPass, a flat rate app subscription program similar to i-mode in terms of its subscription model.

How exactly will Docomo respond to KDDI’s smartphone success so far? At B Dash Camp 2013 in Fukuoka yesterday, Yoshiaki Maeda, the managing director of smart communication services at NTT Docomo, explained a little about the company’s upcoming strategy, revealing a few interesting figures in the process.

Docomo’s smartphone content sales generates $180 million a month

To date, Docomo has acquired 18 million smartphone users. The figure is expected to reach 40 million by the end of 2014. Their smartphone content sales grew to a market worth of $180 million, and that’s continuously on the rise each month.

Conversely, the i-mode content market is shrinking.

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The growth of Docomo’s smartphone subscribers
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The growth of revenue from smartphone content sales

On-the-spot purchase needs surpasses that of monthly subscription model

In the era of featurephones, monthly subscription models were very strong but it’s shifted to an ‘on-the-spot’ purchase model as our more subscribers move to smartphone users.

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Monthly subscription sales vs. on-the-spot purchase sales
in the last three years

For us, by bringing the subscription user base from the featurephone market (i-mode) to the smartphone content market, we expect monthly revenue to increase to $300 million.

Partnering with new content providers

Some content providers brought conventional (featurephone optimized) content to the smartphone app marketplace, and that will never attract our subscribers.

We value our providers though, but we further expect to get new providers involved to cultivate the market. We also have our Docomo Innovation Ventures as a touch point for new companies or startups. We’ve exploring ways to work with brand new people.

When will Docomo start ‘Sugotoku’, its monthly flat-rate subscription program for smartphone apps?

We’re preparing for it to be launched very soon. It would be similar to our competitor KDDI’s strategy, but we’re still in talks with partner content providers (and/or app developers). We aspire to make it comfortable enough so that our customers will be happy to use it.

B Dash Camp panel: Trends in the Japanese online ad business

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See the original story in Japanese. This is a part of our coverage of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013. Along with the evolution of web services, online advertising platforms have drastically evolved. In the past, we used to place simple banner ads on our websites, and subsequently search advertising emerged. Now we’ve adopted impression-based ads using ad tools like DSP (demand-side platform). But the further ad solutions evolve, the more issues we face. Here’s a quick rundown on the panel discussing issues facing the online advertising space in Japan. The panelists for the session include: Osamu Aranami, Corporate Office, Head of Marketing Solutions Company, Yahoo Japan Kenichi Sugawara, CMO, ScaleOut Koki Sato, President and CEO, Septeni Holdings Moderator: Toru Kawarazuka, Senior Manager, Sales Management Dept., Sony Bank Does social media have much of an impact on the conventional ad business? Aranami: I can’t disclose our figures because we’re heading towards the announcement of our financial statements in the week ahead. In terms of browsing devices, it’s changing. The share of smartphone and tablets is on the rise. Sato: Social media allows users to create a sort of user pool as well as owning their official website. The engagement helps acquire…

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See the original story in Japanese.

This is a part of our coverage of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013.

Along with the evolution of web services, online advertising platforms have drastically evolved. In the past, we used to place simple banner ads on our websites, and subsequently search advertising emerged. Now we’ve adopted impression-based ads using ad tools like DSP (demand-side platform).

But the further ad solutions evolve, the more issues we face. Here’s a quick rundown on the panel discussing issues facing the online advertising space in Japan. The panelists for the session include:

  • Osamu Aranami, Corporate Office, Head of Marketing Solutions Company, Yahoo Japan
  • Kenichi Sugawara, CMO, ScaleOut
  • Koki Sato, President and CEO, Septeni Holdings
  • Moderator: Toru Kawarazuka, Senior Manager, Sales Management Dept., Sony Bank

Does social media have much of an impact on the conventional ad business?

Aranami: I can’t disclose our figures because we’re heading towards the announcement of our financial statements in the week ahead. In terms of browsing devices, it’s changing. The share of smartphone and tablets is on the rise.

Sato: Social media allows users to create a sort of user pool as well as owning their official website. The engagement helps acquire high-profile users, and may work well for global business expansions. But it’s still in the stage of trial and error.

Using personal profiles for advertising

Sugawara: DSPs allow you a specific ad space on an impression-basis. In terms of placing ads using this platform, you can specify a target audience segment or ad spaces. The audience segments requires personal profiles. For example, when you visit a motor comparison site (overseas), they will use your profile and propose target vehicles for you.

Aranami: Yahoo Japan has users’ purchase histories on our shopping site and auction site. We’re considering to use that data for our ad delivery. But at the same time, we have to be careful on how we should handle such data.

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Septeni Holdings CEO Koki Sato speaking on the panel

What’s ahead for rich media ads?

Aranami: To help with promotional activities for the Olympic bid in Tokyo, we’ve created an ad where athletes move when you mouse over them. It generated a lot of buzz, but we’re still preparing for movie ads.

Sato: At my company, the demands of rich media ads account for a lesser share of our business, especially compared to English-speaking countries. There are two key points here: How much can premium (rich media) ads bring value compared to conventional TV ads? And how many users are shifting from desktop browsing to smartphone devices.

Sugawara: There are rights management issues as well. Some TV ads cannot be reproduced for online advertising because of rights issues.

Aranami: Yahoo Japan is working on finding out how we can create a safe and secure ad networks for our clients, as well as deploy further extensive developments on YDN, our Yahoo Display-ad Network. We can take minor requests from our clients, such as which domain they would like to place ads on. We proudly think ourselves as Japan’s largest DSP operator.

B Dash Camp panel: Social gaming principles can also be applied to e-learning

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See the original story in Japanese. This is a part of our coverage of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013. The e-learning industry is changing drastically with new technologies like cloud technology or social media. One of notable startups in this space is Schoo, which provides real-time online lecture services on many topics. We had a chance to check out a panel on online e-learning services at B Dash Camp 2013 today in Fukuoka. In the fist, Dylan Arena, the chief learning scientist of the e-learning solution provider Kidaptive, introduced four keywords to describe the latest trends in the US e-learning market. Access: Giving access to online lecture services anywhere at anytime. Attention: Giving teachers an efficient way to pay an attention to what their students are doing in their classrooms. Assessment: An advanced e-learning system gives teachers a way to assess their students far better than before. Personalization: Using the three points stated above, explore a way to personalize lecture content to individual students. For the people who have less learning opportunities for economic reasons, Kidaptive’s solution allows teachers reach students by providing a combination of an online e-learning environment as well as private tuition opportunities. Subsequently teachers can check…

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See the original story in Japanese.

This is a part of our coverage of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013.

The e-learning industry is changing drastically with new technologies like cloud technology or social media. One of notable startups in this space is Schoo, which provides real-time online lecture services on many topics.

We had a chance to check out a panel on online e-learning services at B Dash Camp 2013 today in Fukuoka. In the fist, Dylan Arena, the chief learning scientist of the e-learning solution provider Kidaptive, introduced four keywords to describe the latest trends in the US e-learning market.

  • Access: Giving access to online lecture services anywhere at anytime.
  • Attention: Giving teachers an efficient way to pay an attention to what their students are doing in their classrooms.
  • Assessment: An advanced e-learning system gives teachers a way to assess their students far better than before.
  • Personalization: Using the three points stated above, explore a way to personalize lecture content to individual students.

For the people who have less learning opportunities for economic reasons, Kidaptive’s solution allows teachers reach students by providing a combination of an online e-learning environment as well as private tuition opportunities. Subsequently teachers can check up on how students are doing in a more systematic manner.

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From the left: Drecom’s Yuki Naito and Quipper’s Akifumi Yokoi

Interestingly, social gaming players are showing an interest in the e-learning area. On this panel, Drecom‘s CEO Yuki Naito and Quipper‘s Akifumi Yokoi discussed what’s ahead for the intersection of gaming and education services. Naito explained a bit about their e-learning platform, adding:

The know-how for improving user retention rate in the social gaming areas can also work in managing e-learning services.

While it’s doubtful that social gaming developers will sidetrack their businesses into this space, it will interesting to see them occasionally deploying their ideas to different business spaces such as this one.