EXCERPT: Japan and South Korea are the world’s most sophisticated mobile markets; China is the largest; India is the fastest-growing. Asia also is home to a huge number of developing nations — from Bangladesh to Mongolia — that have yet to get a significant toehold in mobile.
Almost 40% of pure data revenue worldwide is generated in Japan, according to Lawrence Cosh-Ishii, co-founder and representative director of Mobikyo, a resource for foreign companies doing business with Japan’s wireless industry.
“Three-quarters of the population use the mobile Web, and four in five users have high-speed 3G phones,” he says. “Recent figures indicate that over $8 billion in annual sales are generated from official on-deck mobile content and commerce alone in addition to untold off-portal activities.”
All the most advanced rich-media experiences — music, gaming, digital broadcast TV, social networking and location-based services — are core offerings
Although experts in the U.S. argue over whether four minutes is too long for a mobile video, in Japan consumers routinely watch 45-minute shows on their phones. Why? “One TV set in the home and an hour commute on the train,” Cosh-Ishii says.
Jason Ling, head of mobile products and technology at MySpace, predicts that within 18-24 months, full Internet on mobile devices will be available in Japan and Korea. “Adobe is working on Flash Lite, so you can have full Flash on your mobile devices,” he says. “With a WiMAX network, it’s like having a laptop in your pocket.”
China has a half-billion mobile subscribers, says Bruno Bensaid, a partner at China Expansion Fund, which works with European venture capitalists interested in the Chinese telecom sector. Mobile chat and IM are top applications, and social networking and online video downloads are major growth areas.
Furthermore, Bensaid predicts that 3G handsets and the arrival of a third operator will “change the paradigm and establish new rules in the mobile market.”
The Orchard’s Scholl reports a high consumption of master-tone products but notes that “a considerable amount of piracy makes it difficult for services to come online and gain traction.”
According to its Telecom Regulatory Authority, India has more than 30 million people accessing the Internet through their mobile phones out of a total of 200 million mobile subscribers.
Content also is rich, with niches in Bollywood films, music and games. According to Madanmohan Rao, an e-services consultant and author of “Asia Unplugged: The Wireless and Mobile Media Boom in the Asia-Pacific,” music and sports are the “killer apps,” with Web portal Cricinfo providing for a ball-by-ball update of cricket scores as well as live commentary and score updates via a tie-up between Cricinfo and MobiCast. MySpace also has launched in India, localized for this specific market, Ling says.
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