KDDI To Bring Android Apps To China Mobile Subscribers

Japan’s second biggest telco and mobile carrier KDDI is planning to bring a set of made-in-Japan apps to Android users in China, in cooperation with China Mobile, the country’s biggest telco (over 600 mobile subscribers).

Under the deal, KDDI will start offering an initial 22 apps, for example manga or games, in China Mobile’s Android market as early as from the end of this month. KDDI uses apps made by a total of five Japan-based companies, i.e. Cybird, Acrodea or G-Mode.

The company says services like billing or fee collection for these app developers will be handled by Hong Kong-based DMX Technologies, a firm KDDI acquired a 51% stake in back in 2009.

The Nikkei is reporting that KDDI is only the 10th company to be given the right to sell apps in China Mobile’s Android market (which has 90 million customers).

enchant.js: New HTML5/JavaScript Game Engine For Smartphones

Tokyo-based Ubiquitous Entertainment (UEI) announced [JP] “enchant.js” yesterday, an HTML5/JavaScript game engine for smartphones (and PCs). The engine is available in beta, it’s open source (dual license MIT or GPL on github), and entirely free to use.

UEI says their aim with the release of the engine is to motivate young people in particular to start programming games as well as to lower the hurdle for entry into their 9leap game creation contest (more info on that here).

The company not only provides the code, but also a range of graphics from previous game titles for free (a map editor and other elements are in the works).

The features of enchant.js include:

  • 2D sprite library
  • multi-layer background scrolling
  • collision detection
  • ActionScript-like event model
  • etc.

enchant.js is the brainchild of Ryo Tanaka (who is just 19 years old).

The game engine supports Android 2.1 and up, plus iOS 3.0 and up.

Here are two screenshots from games that have been created with enchant.js:

9leap: D2C And UEI Launch Program For Young Smartphone Game Creators

Do you know a student in Japan who is under 25 years of age and who can create cool smartphone games? If yes, 9leap, a new program that just launched, might be of interest to you.

9leap is the brain child of Tokyo-based D2 Communications (D2C) – a joint venture between Dentsu and NTT Docomo – and tech company Ubiquitous Entertainment (UEI). The program runs from May to December this year, with the first part lasting from May 1 to August 31 and the second part from September 1 to December 31.

Applicants are supposed to create an original smartphone game (based on JavaScript) and present it to a jury whose members include, for example, legendary game maker Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the CEOs of D2C and UEI etc.

The prizes the successful applicants get include MacBooks, the chance to attend the Game Developers Conference 2012 in San Francisco for free (plus there is a number of other bells and whistles).

You can check out details on the 9leap website as well as in this press release (in Japanese).

Docomo Merges i-Mode And Smartphone Businesses

There is no reason for i-mode provider NTT Docomo to give up on its highly profitable mobile Internet service for feature phones as long as it makes money, but Japan’s biggest mobile carrier is starting to change things. According to Japanese business daily The Nikkei, Docomo is moving to combine its i-mode and smartphone businesses as early as next month.

The paper isn’t giving away too many details, but says that, for example,  Docomo plans to offer content (i.e. apps) available on i-mode only to smartphone users in the future. The plan is to make feature phone-only services like i-channel or i-concierge available for that target group.

Another example: In customer service, NTT Docomo had a workforce of 2,500 people handling calls from feature phone users so far. But apparently, the company wants to move up to 500 of these employees to the 250 people who have been handling inquiries from smartphone users so far.

Docomo merging its i-mode and smartphone businesses isn’t a surprise: the company expects to ship six million smartphones in the next fiscal year, more than double the amount it aims at selling this fiscal (2.5 million).

The carrier plans to release 40-50 models in the year starting April – about 50% of the new models will likely be smartphones.

NHN Plans To Flood Japan With Smartphone Games

NHN Japan, the local arm of South Korean web giant NHN and operator of online gaming portal Hangame, is planning to seriously step up game development for smartphones, especially on Android.

Japan’s biggest business daily, The Nikkei, is reporting that NHN in Korea has set up a 100-people team that’s supposed to create the titles, for example action and puzzle games (see below). Japan is expected to see 10 new titles from NHN as early as spring this year, but the company is planning to have a whopping 100 games on the Japanese and Korean markets by year-end.

According to the Nikkei, the company is also planning to add social networking functionalities to the games, including multi-player options.

NHN has been offering games on the iPhone since summer last year, for example this one (Puchi Puchi Same Puzzle):