Branching Out and Tying Up

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Or how to increase profit when your business declines… Although Japanese ringtone providers have seen their subscriber numbers dwindle some have managed to increase revenue by selling higher-value stock such as realtones (chaku-uta), videotones, interview clips (both audio & video), movie trailers and 3D “surround sound” effects for the newer phones. They market themselves by allying with a magazine or show that targets the same audience.

With more than 600 official ringtone sites and over 400 official realtone sites in Japan, it is crucial for a provider to know its target audience and be able to reach it easily. Tie-ups with magazines and shows give ringtone companies a chance to promote their services through articles and celebrity “interviews,” which have proven far more effective than most traditional advertising.

Rather than offer a wide variety of ringtones the feature gives the impression the successful portals offer ringtones in only one or a few music genres, and have branched out in other music offerings within the same genre. It’s interesting to view the ringtone business in this way, as a music offering rather than a mobile content offering, and therefore choose a different path than offering java games and wallpapers along with ringtones. Of course, maybe they offer those as well and the feature just didn’t mention it, but I do think it’s a way for small players to find a niche rather than taking the big guys head-on…

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