Mobile Content Forum, the Japanese association of mobile content providers, has published statistics on Japan’s mobile content and m-commerce market in 2005. According to the report, mobile transactions grew by 39% in 2005 to total ¥722.4 billion (€4.9 billion). The MCF report addresses the two major sides of m-business: mobile content and mobile commerce. With 3G becoming the norm throughout Japan, these two markets saw continued strong growth in 2005: 21% for digital content (22% in 2004) and 57% for m-commerce (52% in 2004). There are 92.6 million mobile users in Japan, 80.5 million of whom also subscribed to a mobile Internet service by of the end of May 2006. Of these, 51.3 million have a 3G handset.
Music was the mobile digital content that largely drove market growth. Sales of CD-quality ring-tone downloads, called Chaku-uta in Japan, grew by 180% to ¥56.2 billion (€380.8 million). In 2005, a new music market also exploded onto the scene: music files. Downloads of whole music tracks, called Chaku-uta Full, grew by 4850%, with sales skyrocketing from ¥200 million in 2004 to ¥9.9 billion (€1.36 million to €67 million) one year later.
The traditional ring-tone market, however, plateaued at ¥104 billion (€710 million) in sales with a 10% decrease in volume.
Meanwhile, the mobile game market continued to expand (43% growth in 2005), driven by rich content downloaded chiefly to 3G devices and by casual mobile gamers. This market represents a volume of ¥58.9 billion (€39.9 million).
The m-commerce market is also expanding, with 57% growth and ¥407.4 billion (€2.7 billion) in sales in 2005. M-commerce consists of three sectors: merchandise (mail order sales), services (e.g. train and airline tickets, travel packages, event tickets), and monetary transactions (e.g. bank transfer fees, auction commissions). All showed strong growth: ¥154.2 billion (€1 billion, +59%), ¥164.6 billion (€1.1 billion, +39%), and ¥88.6 billion (€600 million, +100%), respectively.
Several possible explanations are given for this success: popularization of commercial-site access through QR Codes (two-dimensional bar codes) printed in magazines, creation and development of m-commerce stores, and growth of the market for m-commerce ticket sales.