Sunday, May 21, 2006

Eurotechnology Japan: iPod mobile phones for Japan

Gerhard Fasol posts at the Eurotechnology Japan about the recent report last week from Nihon Keizai Shinbun (the world's largest business daily) that Apple (AAPL) and SoftBank will jointly develop iPod/iTunes-mobile phones.

After Softbank acquired Vodafone's Japan subsidiary - the former J-Phone - in March, Fasol asks if it is "pure coincidence that DoCoMo and Microsoft announced a music cooperation just one or two days before the APPLE/SoftBank iPod cooperation made headlines?" He writes that the APPLE/SoftBank cooperation has the potential to:

  • revolutionize Japan's mobile phone market
  • accelerate the shift of the music industry's business model from CDROM sales to mobile music for mobile phones
  • make APPLE a global mobile phone handset brand in the NOKIA league
  • put pressure on DoCoMo which has been falling behind in the mobile music sector
Fasol believes such a deal could revolutionize Japan's music business landscape, noting "about 20% of Japan's music sales are to mobile phones, while internet music downloads are almost neglibile in comparison. Therefore iTunes cannot have much impact in Japan if limited to internet downloads. iTunes downloads to mobile phones will change the business models of Japan's music industry"

Fasol lists the potential impact of the deal:
  • SoftBank could leapfrog DoCoMo which is already about 1-2 years behind KDDI/AU in the mobile music arena.
  • iTunes pricing is far below established mobile phone music prices in Japan
  • Success of an iTunes/SoftBank mobile phone will put strong pressure on DoCoMo and KDDI/AU: a "must have" iPod mobile phone can be a huge advantage for SoftBank when number portability arrives this autumn.
  • Global impact: Success of an APPLE/SoftBank phone could put APPLE on track towards a global mobile phone brand competing with the NOKIA's of this world
  • APPLE could leverage it's design power, it's user interface principles, and brand power into BOTH the mobile phone space (globally), and the mobile music distribution space
  • APPLE could become the challenger in the global mobile phone handset landscape