With the trend of mobile phones, chat app now in a fad
Many people see the change in media to be an evolution from feature phones to smartphones, but I disagree. I think the correct way to see this evolution is that smartphones were personal computers that you can take outside. Two years ago, the population of PC users was overtaken by the population of smartphone users in Japan. A survey was taken that indicated just two billion of the seven billion people in the world have access to the internet. Upon hearing this, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg started work on a project in which he invested the equivalent of 500 billion yen to provide Wi-Fi internet throughout Africa, and it may take a total of three trillion yen to achieve this goal. However, clearly the remaining 5 billion people who are not connected to the internet are not all living in Africa. The largest change within the two-billion strong internet population is that smartphones deliver a world that was previously only accessible on a PC. This situation has resulted in many new issues, such as the case where an elementary school student fell from the railway station platform on to the tracks because he was concentrating on using a smartphone while walking. The world inside smartphones now duplicates that of the PC, both of which have surpassed feature phones and feature phones which offered comparatively poor expressive power.
When this transition from feature phones to smartphones occurred, I wondered whether we would need to start by supplying wallpaper images again. The first Android phones had no proper content and no paid market. I even considered shutting down the Character Division because I couldn't solve the problem of how to replace individual billing where customers download items for 100 yen per item. Our work on mobile phone content from mobile phone images onwards meant we had the rights for a lot of content, but I couldn't figure out how to monetize them. But suddenly our content became extremely popular due to the arrival of LINE and other rival services. Additionally, the removal of restrictions on competition from international carriers meant we received content requests from companies in Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and China.
We have since granted content licenses to companies in places such as Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, and we provide character avatar services to Ameba and DeNA for their smartphone services. I feel that the reason we can survive is our ability to sense current trends and turning points in media, and then quickly change our business model accordingly.
Of the variety of social media options such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that are available, I have focused on using LINE in Japan. In the last year and a half, our company has gained more than 60 million social friends. We also have 11 million paid content subscribers, making us a world-class company in attracting customers through social media. We have also ranked in the top ten for app development in 45 countries around the world including Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
A Platform for mobile phones operated by NTT-docomo（a contents platform on the biggest mobile carrier that rivaled Japans i-tunes store） since 2011 Nov, the service includes shopping, games and other entertainment contents.