Japan's three main mobile providers – NTT Docomo, KDDI and Softbank – are breaking down the last bricks of their walled gardens, and will make mobile games, music and video available to their rivals' subscribers.
They are looking to content sales to increase their revenues and so need to appeal to the entire smartphone population, not just their own users, as well as fighting off over-the-top content.
KDDI recently opened up its Uta Pass music streaming service, previously confined to Android devices on its own network, to iPhone owners signed to any carrier. The cellco will do the same with its Video Pass streaming service and Book Pass ebook downloads platform this spring.
Softbank plans to launch the UULA video and music streaming service this month, in partnership with Avex Group Holdings, according to TotalTelecom. This will be accessible to its own Android and iPhone customers, and also to KDDI's iPhone base, and it may be expanded further in future.
Meanwhile, market leader NTT Docomo has been offering its “dgame” mobile gaming service to all smartphone and tablet users since December, and aims to expand its mobile content offerings to include video streaming and online shopping. Its target for these services is ¥1 trillion ($10.77 billion).
Docomo recognized the importance of differentiating devices via their software experience long before Apple, with its groundbreaking iMode platform more than a decade ago, and it continues to innovate in this area.