Up To 100 IMs Simuiltaneously! CyberAgent Releases Teen Girl MS “DECOLINK”

CyberAgent, Inc. [J] has released the smartphone free messenger service DECOLINK [J], geared towards teen girls, for their Smartphone Ameba [J].

“DECOLINK” is a free smartphone messenger service  which lets you exchange messages with up to 100 people simultaneously.  It offers moving message icons, pictographic mini-emoticons that can be inserted into the message, a plethora of 10,000 “deco-stamps,”  oriented towards teen girls, all for free, and users can customize the display font and display screen background to their liking.  The deco-stamps are put together into a design suited for teen girls, and popular characters from Ameba services such as “Ameba Pigg,” “Booshuka,” and “Kiiteyo! Mirucho” also make an appearance.

This service was developed by their teens subdivision, carrying out business specializing in the smartphone service for junior high and high school girls known as “Candy” [J], a decorative homepage service.  From now, they are planning development of functions that cater to the wishes of teenage girls and pro-active collaborations with various contents, and they are now designing a smartphone platform architecture for teen girls centered on “Candy.”


Translation authorized by VSMedia

Docomo’s LTE Passes 10 Million Subscribers

NTT Docomo announced [J] today February 19, 2013 that their LTE service Xi got 10 million users yesterday, February 18, 2013.

Here is a chart from their release. Docomo’s Xi began December 24, 2010.


[Update] other English news

Japan’s DoCoMo hits 10 million LTE subscribers, doubling its numbers in 6 months – The Next Web

Despite slower speeds, NTT Docomo quick to surpass 10 million LTE subscribers

SoftBank Starts Using The 900MHz “Platinum Band”

There can be no doubt that SoftBank is the mobile carrier with the weakest network among Japan’s big three telcos, following that of NTT Docomo and KDDI. But now there is hope that things will finally change for the better.

Back in March this year, the Japanese government decided to allocate the 900-megahertz band (also dubbed “platinum band”) to SoftBank. And yesterday, the company finally started using the band, with plans to set up a total of 42,000 compatible base stations all over Japan by 2019.

Users can check the areas that are serviced by visiting this website (it looks like large parts of Greater Tokyo will get covered by September this year).

SoftBank, which currently has 30 million subscribers, expects cost for the network upgrade to amount to around US$10.5 billion.

Last month, the Japanese government allocated another “platinum band” to Docomo, KDDI, and eAccess: SoftBank’s rivals plan to use the 700-megahertz band for their LTE services from 2015.


“PayPal Here”: SoftBank And PayPal Join Forces In Japan For Smartphone Payment Solution

PayPal President David Marcus, eBay CEO John Donahoe (PayPal is an eBay brand), and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son announced “PayPal Here” in Tokyo today, a payment solution for smartphones.

This is huge news for PayPal’s Japan unit, which has been operating in this country for years but hasn’t achieved the success it has seen in other countries so far (see Asiajin editor Akky Akimoto’s comment on Quora from last year for reasons why).

The plan is to establish a joint venture company, “PayPal Japan”, and introduce the “PayPal Here” service in the Japanese market (following the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia – visit TechCrunch for more information).

Each partner will hold a 50% stake in the new company and commits to invest 1 billion yen (US$12.5 million).

SoftBank explains:

The joint venture will bring together the strengths of both companies – PayPal’s global online and mobile payment solutions with 110 million active accounts in 190 markets and 25 currencies, along with the SOFTBANK Group’s local market knowledge, 29 million mobile subscribers*2 and vast distribution network including thousands of retail outlets and sales staff across Japan. By bringing together these global and local assets, the joint venture will provide the premier digital wallet for online, mobile and offline transactions to connect millions of Japanese consumers and merchants and expand the use of digital payment solutions, such as PayPal Here, in the Japanese market. (…)

PayPal and SOFTBANK expect PayPal Here to revolutionize the Japanese retail commerce market worth JPY134 trillion (USD1.7 trillion) in 2011and support the growth of 4.7 million small businesses, which account for 99% of all businesses and 70% of all employment in Japan.

What’s interesting is that the new partners aren’t losing time: the iPhone app for merchants and “PayPal Here” card reader are already available today at several “select” stores in Japan before SoftBank plans to roll out the reader “in the next several weeks” in their stores all over Japan.

The reader costs 1,200 yen, while each transaction will be taxed with 5% (there will be no fixed fees).

Movatwitter Has A New Owner: jig.jp Buys Twitter Client Operator Mindscope

Tokyo-based mobile tech company jig.jp today announced it acquired Mindscope, the startup behind popular Twitter client movatwitter.

movatwitter is Japanese-only, web-based and as such usable across various platforms, including smartphones, feature phones, the PC or handheld consoles like the Sony Vita or the Nintendo 3DS. Around 2009, Twitter’s official Japanese top page featured the app in its sidebar frequently (on the PC).

As a result, the service rapidly gained popularity in this country and now boasts 1.6 million users. Buyer jig.jp isn’t disclosing terms of the deal, but Cnet Japan says it learned that the company paid a few million dollars for Mindscope.

jig.jp’s core product is the so-called jig browser, one of the first in Japan that made it possible to view PC sites on feature phones. The company later followed up with a smartphone browser and also offers mobile video solutions, an RSS reader, a Facebook client, and two Twitter clients (dubbed “jig twi” and “twePUB”).

jig.jp was established in 2003, while MindScope was incorporated in January 2010 (movatwitter was available before the incorporation and is said to be Japan’s first mobile-friendly Twitter client that’s web-based).

On Facebook, movatwitter mastermind Shinichi Fujikawa says he will continue to work as Chief Technology Architect while looking for new challenges as well.

Three Of Japan’s Top Telcos Standardize Display Of Email Emoticons

Three of Japan’s four biggest mobile carriers, namely NTT Docomo, KDDI au, and eAccess, are about to make it easier for their combined subscriber base of roughly 90 million people to exchange emails with other.

The plan is to standardize the display of emoticons, or emoji in Japanese, across handsets offered by the three networks.

As of now, certain emoji aren’t correctly displayed when sent from the cell phone of a Docomo user to that of a KDDI user, for example. I am not a big emoji fan, but The Nikkei says that if a Docomo subscriber sends an emoji showing i.e. Taurus the Bull to somebody using a KDDI phone, a cow is displayed.

What may sound trivial is actually quite a big deal in Japan, where emoji have been in use since 1999 and emails have been the most popular way to communicate between mobile phone users since.

It’s especially young people who use emoji excessively. Around 2008, the lack of emoji support was blamed as one of the factors leading to the (initially) sluggish sales of the iPhone in Japan. In the same year, it was Google Japan’s local team that made it possible for Gmail users worldwide to use emoji in their messages.

KDDI an eAccess are also in the process of creating around 200 new emoji that fit NTT Docomo’s most popular ones. The standardization will kick off with new handsets released this summer.

SoftBank Mobile, Japan’s No. 3 carrier, isn’t part of the agreement: the company says it simply doesn’t display problematic emoji sent from handsets offered by other carriers on its handsets.

NHN Japan’s LINE App Hits 20 Million Users – After Just 8 Months

20 million – that’s the amazing number of users that LINE, a communication app made by NHN Japan, just hit. The free voice call/messenger app for iOS and Android just took eight months to reach this milestone (it was released in June last year).

LINE makes it possible for users to call or text each other for free after pulling information from the phone’s contact list (other people can be added via their LINE-specific ID). As a special feature, users can exchange “stickers” (cute icons and graphics) with each other (see below). Group communication is possible, too.

NHN Japan reported 10 million users in December 2011 and 15 million users on January 27. The company says that it reached 20 million users faster than Facebook (which needed roughly 38 months), Twitter (26 months), Mixi (73 months), GREE (77 months), or Mobage (54 months).

What’s interesting (apart from the unbelievable growth) is that 60% users are from outside Japan: this number makes LINE one of the most successful (internationally used) web/mobile products coming out of this country ever.

Even though NHN Japan is the local subsidiary of Korean Internet powerhouse NHN, LINE was completely designed, created and marketed out of the Tokyo office (the first version of LINE hit the App Store after six weeks of development).

NHN Japan is planning to launch LINE for computers and tablets next.