Wednesday, November 01, 2006

cell and shockwave link up

A few posts back I talked about the possible influx of content from Japan. So it was interesting to read via wirelesswatch that Cell have signed a distribution seal with who also funnily enough have a deal with Verizon for their Flash Lite based 'Shockwave Minis' arcade! In fact some of Cell's games are already part of the arcade, and you can play them here.

I think there are a couple of things that are actually bad about this though. Above all the Brew platform supports Flash Lite 2.1 and is capable of so much more than 1.1 based games built for in browser experiences. One button games have their place but its pretty limited. Flash Lite will be a lot more than that on the Brew platform as developers start to develop original games specifically for 2.1 not throwing existing content into the mix because its easy to do.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Duck ... Flash Lite content coming this way from Japan

Just listened to an intersting podcast about a Japanese Flash Lite content company called Cell who were at CTIA showcasing their games catalogue of over 400! The guy being interviewed was obviously well versed in mobile conferences outside of Japan because one of the first things he asks the interviewer is "Do you know Flash Lite?" The interviewer resonds "yeah ....Flash based games right?" So clearly the interviewer doesn't know Flash Lite .... such a classic opening to a conversation about Flash Lite, I have lost count of the amount of times I have experienced that opening sequence :)

So whats interesting about all this is that while many early adopters of Flash Lite outside of Japan have looked on with envy at the market penetration of Flash Lite over there, content producers in Japan have just been building away. Not only does the Japanese market offer a great market base, the performance of Flash Lite on the handsets is also way superior - 30 fps is not a problem.

So the success of Flash Lite in Japan is unquestionable and the net result of that is that there are lots of good sized content creation and distribution companies who specialise almost exclusively in Flash Lite. But the market is now totally saturated. Recently when I spoke to a top distributor in Japan they told me they were only interested in 3g content as opposed to 2.5g and that translated as music and manga, not wallpapers, screensavers or games!

I guess it comes as no surprise then that companies with lots of assets and production power will start to look outside Japan. Cell say they have 400+ games and a production line that produces 12 games a week. Now, these are obviously pretty impressive figures even for the casual genre that Flash Lite fits into. However the key question I think for Japanese content creators looking overseas is what percentage of their catalogue is culturally exportable. Porting their content to English version should be easy enough but will consumers 'get' a lot of the content the way Japanese consumers have?

One of the reasons Cell have 400+ games is because Flash Lite content is quick to build and quick and easy to consume. Also dont forget that Flash Lite games in Japan are entirely browser based. So in the interview when they say 200,000 downloads a day I would guess thats actually 200000 hits per day. Of course you can save browser games locally but the point should be made the consumption model is so much more appetising and free flowing when compared to games consumption in Europe or elsewhere.

So the key point to all this is that Japanese content providers face the same big hurdle that Western content providers do when trying to get into Japan - there are massive cultural differences. I think is so much more relevant to Flash Lite than other technologies because its such an expressive technology and the content is so low brow (almost viral like - see internet viral campaigns) that it absorbs a lot of cultural influence. So take the example of Playstation games - these are big budget games that feed off raw gamer needs, no frills, they are not culturally influenced. A lot of Flash Lite content has a cultural context.

I look forward to seeing how well Japanese content providers do in shifting content in the newer markets! If they select the right products, there are still a few significant technological differences between Japan and non-Japan in Flash Lite implementation. Only titles that can work with less processing power, can adapt or justify the different input methods, can find a identity graphically and have a cultural context will make it. See one such example below.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Japanese unlimited data plans

Following on from the recent discussions of Japanese mobile usage (instigated by a recent survey from InfoPlant). The survey polled 16,833 users across the three main carriers and it polled them through the main menus on their phone. So there has to be a lot of bias just based on the polling mechanic, however some of the results are astounding. The one that caught my attention relates to unlimited data plans (male/female column removed):

Q2: Are you on a flat-rate packet plan? (ie, unlimited internet access)

My phone supports it, and I'm using it 58.0%
My phone supports it, but I'm not on it, but want to change to it 12.3%
My phone supports it, but I'm not on it, and won't change to it 5.9%
My phone doesn't support it, but want to change to one that does 20.8%
My phone doesn't support it, and won't change to one that does 2.9%

So looking at the above over 90% of users are either on a flat rate data plan or have the desire to be at some point in the future. In my opinion its that kinda of product landscape that gives impoteus to content providers to create ANY type of application. Especially the types of content that are potential 'killer apps', such as social applications that depend on network data charges being a non-existant issue for users. So which operators in the UK will be the first to jump ship and offer unlimited data access? I think its a gamble worth taking - at the moment operators in the uk charge for data and content, but the content is crap and the takeup must be appropraite to the quality of content. Surely by introducing flat rate you get the best of both, operators get a stable revenue akin to talk plans and because people actually start using data this fuels better content usage which fuels better content etc etc. What am I missing?


Thursday, July 28, 2005

vodafone kk announces 2 new 3g handsets

Vodafone kk, which is the Japanese side of Vodafone's global empire, have announced 2 new 3g handsets, the Sharp 703SH and the Sharp 903SH. The highlight is probably the 3.2 megapixel camera on the Sharp 903sh. Both models are, as the model names suggest, the next generation of the Sharp 802 and the Sharp 902.

Having a Sharp 902 myself I cant imagine how good the screen will be on the 903, the 902 is by far the best looking screen I have seen. Add to that the 3.2 megapixel camera and it all adds up to a pretty high spec imaging phone.

Flash Lite is of course supported in both models too. Although no information was given about their availablity outside Japan, its very likely they will be available sometime soon in Europe.

see the full press release here

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Casio's G-Zone Type R

great site, even better phone

Of course the phone comes with Flash Lite pre-installed too

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Friday, May 27, 2005

NTT DoCoMo to start selling Nokia 3g phones

via wirelesswatch japan.

An interesting move by NTT DoCoMo as they try to catch up with the 3g dominance of KDDI. I am not sure if this is a change to how NTT acquires phones or not. I imagine Nokia will just be implementing everything just as per the current set of NTT phones, in which case its just another supplier of a custom NTT phone. From Nokia's point of view its funny how despite the Licensing agreement with Macromedia the first Flash Lite phone Nokia will produce will be for NTT DoCoMo using Flash Lite as a browser plugin rather than the series 60 stand alone player! Of course this may not be the case, but it seems likely.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

5 new phones for NTT DoCoMo

Via wireless Watch Japan, NTT DoCoMo unveil 5 new additions to their massive range of phones.

Although I couldnt find any detailed specification, its a fair guess all five come with Flash Lite 1.1. One interesting bit of new functionality is the use of i-appli to provide menu icon sets for the UI.

Icon sets for the menu screen can be downloaded as i-appliā„¢ templates (N901iS, P901iS and SH901iS models).

i-appli seems to be doing lots of things that Flash Lite could also be doing. There are areas of clear difference between J2ME and Flash Lite and then there are areas where not much difference exists between the 2 technologies. 3D games are definitely the domain of j2ME and wallpapers are definitely more Flash Lite's thing. From the examples I have seen in Japan, Flash Lite is clearly perceived as an animation technology. Which is interesting because the model created by the Flash Lite player as a standalone player (nokia series 60) is much more application orientated. It will be interesting to see how the next version of Flash Lite for the Japanese market evolves - i would imagine at some point it would have to start competing with i-appli for cetain types of content.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Sharp 902SH

I really do love this phone. Its screen is just great, it looks way better than any other mobile I have ever seen. The camera, at 2MP, means that you can get some really good quality photos. In fact my aging Sony camera, at 2MP, has just been rendered useless.

I also like the way the box has not 1 but 2 Macromedia logos on it: (taken with the 902)902_box

It has loads of other great features, including bar code scanner. So I can scan those Japanese square barcodes (QR Codes I think they are called) on a website and get the link on my phone. I can also create my own QR codes, heres a link to this site :)

The only annoying side to it is the bluetooth receiving process. If you use bluetooth a lot this really does get annoying:

calling not available during operation, OK? (yes)

Enter Handset Code: **** (ok)

received (ok)

save to pictures (yes)

saved to pictures (ok)

connection terminated (ok)

Regardless it is a great phone, and having Flash Lite available as screensaver, wallpaper and browser is really cool.

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