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FM Keitai


KDDI, Sanyo, and Tokyo FM partnered to form FM Keitai and are now bringing real-time interactive radio content to 500,000+ Japanese cell phone users.

Cell phones in Japan are moving swiftly up the evolutionary chain toward the apex of true media powerhouse. Hot new ‘killer idea’ FM Keitai – a partnership between KDDI (Japan’s second largest wireless provider), handset maker Sanyo, and FM radio heavyweight Tokyo FM – launched about a year ago and is now bringing real-time interactive radio content to 500,000+ keitai (Japanese for cell phones) users and counting. The number of 3G subscribers in Japan is steadily increasing — 16.7 million+ as of June 2004, and FM Keitai is taking full advantage of 3G’s enhanced capabilities. The FM-enabled handsets let listeners tune in to the station of their choice, and 53 Japanese radio stations participating in FM Keitai send track information and lyrics directly to the user’s phone via the pre-installed BREW applet. (Sales of BREW-enabled handsets are outpacing sales of Java-enabled handsets in Japan by a factor of 2-to-1.) Users can also download a 30-second Chaku Uta music file (MP3-quality ringtone) of any song they hear for USD 1 to USD 2, simply by clicking a link on their handset screen. The memory of FM Keitai compatible phones is designed to hold 50 to 60 Chaku Uta, and the music files themselves are provided courtesy of Label Mobile, a Japanese major record label joint venture formed in 2002 specifically to supply musical mobile content. Other cool FM Keitai features – and the ones that may prove tastiest to marketers and advertisers – include the ability to purchase full CDs and branded merchandise directly from the handset; DJ and announcer-directed one-click sign-ups for special ad campaign participation; and the potential for advertisers to introduce one-click access to product websites and customized marketing campaign web pages. Yum.


What makes FM Keitai truly special is the integral partnership between a wireless operator and a radio station (Tokyo FM): for the latter, it’s a new way of getting branded ‘stations’ into hundreds of thousands of pockets. And we now all know that G3, UMTS or whatever we want to call broadband style wireless networks are now for real in Asia and Europe. So could this be one of those more-than-interesting BRANDED BRANDS propositions for music/tv/data networks around the world? Start talking to the Vodafones, the Vivos, the Verizons, the Radio 538s, the Samsungs and the Nokias of the world, and don’t just partner, but reinvent and double-brand your products and services!


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