KDDI LISMO: Best Mobile Music Service in the World

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Few people are aware about the huge success that KDDI, #2 mobile operator in Japan, has achieved in selling music to mobile phones. LISMO is the name of the music service available to KDDI au subscribers, that offers song downloads over the air.

In a press release back in February 2007, KDDI already announced that they have exceeded 100 Million song downloads, since the EZ “Chaku-Uta Full” full track download was launched in November 2004.

The following table shows the remarkable growth:

KDDI and Sony announced in October 2007 that LISMO will now enable ‘Chaku-uta Full’ files downloaded to au mobile phones to be transferred to Sony audio equipment via a new ‘LISMO Port’ PC software. It is to work with Sony Walkman and with Sony Net Juke, HDD Stereo System. The service is named ‘au x Sony MUSIC PROJECT’. The intention is to make the protected music available to other devices than the au phones, in response to international music labels embracing DRM-free downloads.

The move also highlights how Sony and KDDI defend from the imminent iPhone assault to Japan. KDDI has a portfolio of music phones quite impressive, that will give a tough battle to iPhone. Sony may have lost the worldwide battle for mp3 players to Apple but, in cooperation with KDDI, might still resist in its domestic market. 3G iPhone in Japan will also be required to download songs over the air, to compete with KDDI service and devices.

KDDI LISMO shows how an operator with determination and courage is able to provide mobile entertainment without giving away the Service and Customer ownership, as AT&T’s has done with the iPhone and Verizon Wireless with the MTV/RealNetworks Rhapsody music service. Even NTT DoCoMo, number one operator in Japan, has been unable to replicate KDDI success after seeking agreements with Napster and Microsoft.

Well done KDDI. Keep giving example to other mobile operators.