Posts Tagged ‘Softbank’

Taking social games to the next level

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Tonchidot's World Hero game allows you to hunt monsters in the real world with the aid of your cell phone

Tonchidot’s Sekai Yuusha (Global Hero)  allows you to hunt monsters in the real world with the aid of your cell phone

Social gaming is about to become very big in Japan: On July 29 Softbank announced that it was teaming up with American game maker Zynga in a bid to promote the format in Asia. Zynga Japan will be developing games similar to Farmville to appeal to the Asian market. They’ll be competing with locally made products that have already been coming out on the Japanese cell-phone market. These include games such as Naishoku, which re-creates the “fun” of manual labor with production-line tasks such as putting heads onto countless plastic frogs. If this trend takes off commuter trains could soon be filled with people relaxing after a hard day’s work by completing mindless tasks on their cell phones and posting the results to their network of friends.

But it’s not all drudgery on the social gaming front. Tonchidot, makers of augmented reality application Sekai Camera, have announced the upcoming release of a social augmented reality game that will have players not only communicating via the Web but also meeting up for drinks to discuss the game. Sekai Yuusha (World Hero) has been dubbed an ARPG, combining elements of Augmented Reality and Role Playing Games. Once players chose from a range of three possible character types – warrior, magician or monk – they can begin their quest by roaming the real world in search of monsters to battle and riddles to solve, collecting treasure and medals along the way.

The Sekai Camera app, which was released on the Japanese market last year with much excitement, allows users to interact with floating tags that have been placed virtually in real locations. The tags appear on the screen of your cell phone when you point your camera at them, presenting you with an augmented reality vision of the real world. Players of Sekai Camera games are not just exploring virtual space but are moving about in the real world. Monsters in Sekai Yuusha will have to be sought out in physical locations.

The social element to Sekai Yuusha will be directed through a dedicated Twitter communication tool with which players can exchange information about the game and decide to form alliances in order to do battle with monsters. There will also be 505 real locations around Japan where players can meet up and discuss their quests over a tankard of ale.

By taking the action out of the virtual into the actual world, the social element involved in AR games will far surpass anything other social game formats might offer. In my book this beats assembling plastic frogs or planting eggplants in virtual spaces any day.

Japan by the numbers (07.05.10)

Monday, July 5th, 2010

90% of people surveyed for rType research online said that they could touch insects when they were children.
83% of men, answering a questionnaire from Ya-Man, said that they are most bothered when women don’t shave their legs.
45% of people polled  by rType research online said that they like Softbank commercials the most out of all cellphone carrier commercials; as for characters, 32% chose the white dog who plays the father role as their favorite.
32% of people question by Skylark said they think that mabo-dofu is the best Chinese dish to eat with white rice.

Japanese Twitter marketing campaigns make some noise

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Twitter’s little blue bird has landed in Japan and looks like it might stick around to build a nest: The microblogging site had almost 10 million views in April from Japan. Ninety-five percent of people polled in a recent survey said they knew about Twitter. Granted, goo Research and japan.internet.com surveyed 1,077 people who were already online, so we’d expect higher recognition than if they polled people on the street. But still, a huge increase from 12% in a similar survey taken at the same time last year. The tweet designated as the 15 billionth this past weekend was in Japanese. For the final nudge, Twitter will come pre-installed on 13 of SoftBank’s new phones this summer, and a free Twitter app for NTT DoCoMo’s keitai has just been announced.

From a marketer’s point of view, that’s a lot of potential consumers. How to grab their attention and keep it? The first wave of Japanese corporate Twitter accounts to play with the medium mostly chatted a bit aimlessly and offered Twitter-only discounts. Many of the accounts replied automatically to messages about the company’s product or shop that were posted in the common format “I’m at FamilyMart/eating udon/drinking coffee now.”

Continue reading about creative Twitter campaigns in Japan →

Summer cell phones: which will make the biggest splash?

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Will KDDI's IS01 Android smartphone be able to outperform the iPhone this summer?

Will KDDI’s IS01 Android smartphone be able to outperform the iPhone this summer?

SoftBank, DoCoMo and KDDI are all hoping that their new lineup of cell phone models are going to make a big splash on the market when they’re released this summer. On one count at least, that will be true for almost all models, as waterproof was the dominant feature in this season’s phones.

But being able to cut it poolside wasn’t the biggest issue. What had keitai-watchers buzzing was whether DoCoMo and KDDI would to outshine SoftBank in the smartphone arena. SoftBank currently sell the iPhone, which has quickly become the nation’s favorite smartphone. Given the exclusivity of Softbank’s agreement with Apple, Docomo and KDDI naturally had to come up with rival devices to knock the sheen of Apple’s best selling gadget. To that end, last week both carriers announced new phones that will run on the Android OS. Among them were more interface options. For example, KDDI’s  IS01 smartphone offers both a qwerty keyboard and a touch display; same goes for Docomo’s Sharp LYNX SH-10B.

But SoftBank still seems to continue to be one step ahead, in terms of innovation. Many of the new cell phones in the SoftBank stable are Twitter-friendly, straight out of the box, thanks to either an app or widget. After the U.S., Japan has the highest number of Tweet traffic in the world, with the Japanese making up 15 percent of the globe’s Tweets, so it’s easy to see how this function might be popular.

SoftBank also showed itself to be ahead of the curve by introducing a pet monitoring device called Mimamori which can be controlled by the user’s cell phone. This very groovy looking digital camera is equipped with a motion sensor that allows it to track a pet’s movements while in the home and relay shots of that pet to the user’s mobile. The camera can also be remotely controlled in real time by users who want to check up on their pets while they are out of the house.

While Softbank pulled ahead with novelties such as these, DoCoMo really came up trumps in the style stakes by offering brand-designed phones for their Style Series, including models designed by popular brands Francfranc and Marimekko. Expect to see these stylish numbers dangling from the handbags of Shibuya and Ginza this summer.

As we already mentioned, the majority of phones were waterproofed this season. Will solar charging be the next big thing in the fall collections?  If so, both KDDI and SoftBank are already out of the gate. SoftBank’s Solar Hybrid 936SH developed by Sharp offers two hours of standby display or one minute call time for a 10-minute charge. KDDI also offers a Sharp model with their Solar Phone SH007 and also claims that a 10-minute solar charge is enough for a one-minute phone call.

As temperatures soar and these new phones hit the streets, the battle to knock the iPhone off its top spot is set to intensify.

Japan Inc. testing the Twitter waters

Monday, March 8th, 2010

A cafe in Roppingi Hills urges passersby to follow its Twitter account: @hillscafespace

A cafe in Roppingi Hills urges passersby to follow its Twitter account: @hillscafespace

A year ago, Japan made up only 0.7 percent of Twitter’s global population. Over the course of 2009, however, estimates show the number of users in Japan grew by six to 10 times, with the current number standing somewhere around 4.5 million people. Japanese is now the second most-used language on the network after English – some 14% of of the 50 million tweets per day worldwide are in Japanese.

Naturally, much of that is the usual chitchat and link-sharing, but Japanese corporations and organizations are playing with the potential for word-of-mouth exposure, PR and retail growth. For smaller companies, Twitter allows them to bypass traditional channels and hawk their wares directly to consumers. The majors are using the micoblogging format to widen their reach and project a friendlier, more casual image.

Although Asian Fortune 100 companies lag behind the U.S. and Europe in sheer numbers of corporate Twitter accounts, those that are tweeting average more followers per account. And hundreds of Japanese companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

Many are taking tsubuyaku, the Japanese verb of choice for tweeting, rather literally. The word means mutter or murmer, and that is just what many seem to be doing, often to tens of thousands of followers.  While some big-name retailers, such as Muji, are announcing Twitter-only sales, others seem to be aiming simply to foster camaraderie and boost engagement through the so-called “casual tweet.” Udon chain Katokichi sends out personalized replies to messages about the noodle dish. Hamburger chain Mos Burger has about 30,000 followers on Twitter, but with a large portion of its posts commenting on the weather and the time of day, it’s not exactly pushing the hard sell. Tsutaya predictably sends followers  movie recommendations, but mixes those with chatter and quickie film quizzes, like “What was the name of the Jedi weapon in the Star Wars movies?”  Some restaurants, like are giving discounts to customers who tweet about their meal there on a sliding scale based on the number of followers the tweeter has.

Continue reading about Twitter and business in Japan →

Turning the Japanese household on its head

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Acccording to a poll carried out by the Institute for Advertising Research Softbank’s Shirato Family series of commercials have been voted most popular with Japanese audiences for the third year running. To decide the nation’s favorite ad, the institute interviewed 3,000 respondents, ages 6 to 89. The campaigns in second and third place also came from cell-phone companies: KDDI and NTT DoCoMo, respectively. Fourth place went to Lotte for their extremely successful Fit’s viral-video dance campaign, which featured a catchy song-and-dance routine and challenged viewers to perform the dance themselves and upload it to YouTube.

Much of the success of the Shirato campaign has been attributed to the charms of pop idol/actress Aya Ueto (who plays the family’s younger sister character), but what really makes the commercials stand out is that, despite its depiction of a “typical” Japanese family, the women rule the roost, otousan (father) just happens to be a white dog and onisan (elder brother) is played by African-American actor Dante Carver.

Continue reading about Softbank's Shirato Family commercials →

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