The Japanese mobile phone market is incredible. If the iPhone hasn’t picked up steam in the island nation, it is probably for good reason: it simply doesn’t do half of the ‘mobile internet things‘ it needs to in order to be useful in Japan. One, is piracy. Apple’s sandboxed OS is great for stopping malicious code, and may even be the best way for porn connoisseurs to finally escape the viral effects of their habit. But, it isn’t a great platform for getting free music; especially in the land of the rising sun.
According to the Japanese newspaper, Yomiuri, certain BBS services and webpages are loaded with tunes for mobile phone users to capitalise on without having to part with any capital.
If my maths are correct, about 330 million songs are ‘legitimately’ downloaded in Japan yearly and about 400 million not so. Accordingly, both markets (if I may use the term) are the world’s largest in the mobile arena. On 16 September, a new system which is aimed to deter would-be pirates will be discussed by the bigwigs behind the RIAJ (Recording Industry Association of Japan), telecom operators, and others.
Assuming that the room doesn’t implode in the absence of air, a new system should be in place by 2010 which will ‘deter’ a user from mobile phone piracy. Essentially, the system is a do-it-once-and-be-warned system. Users who engage in the same activity twice, however, will be remotely disconnected from their music, or terminated from similar downloads.
Interesting, but as with top-heavy system, the triumvirate composed of the RIAJ, telecome providers, and whomever else, will itself be costly, and in the end, only work as long as their security measures aren’t broken. The real problem isn’t piracy, it is that the system is way overpriced. Currently, Japanese users have to pay up to 300 yen per downloaded, low quality song; a price which is no different, and sometimes more expensive per album than a CD.
The RIAJ may think it fair to sell black and white photocopies of a book at similar prices to the real thing thing, but in turn, had better be ready to face up to its own malpractice. The system itself is overbearing. Another lumbering step, and it will only prove its daunting age to a generation of consumers who wants change.