Ring My Bell: The Impact of Cell Phone Downloads on the Japanese Music Market

Abstract


 
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As Japan is a global leader in cellular phone technologies, its experiences with their applications have often foreshadowed usage in other parts of the world. This article chronicles the history of one such application - chaku-uta, or sampled ringsongs. It analyzes the development of the mobile internet in Japan and the role of chaku-uta in its growth; the impact of telecommunications corporate strategy on the adoption of the mobile internet and chaku-uta; contrasts between music downloading on the mobile internet vs. PC-based internet; differences in strategies among record companies; the feedback loop between consumers and corporations; and similarities and differences in consumer behavior in Japan and the US. Business strategy analysis and interviews with corporate executives are combined with results of surveys and interviews with users. The paper thus addresses the business and cultural factors that contribute to the growth of a form of music distribution.