Branching Out and Tying Up

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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