Happy Friday! James from mjelly.com here at Mobile Industry Review for another “Mobile 2.0 service of the week”.
So far we’ve covered mobile 2.0 apps from all over the world from Mig33 in Australia, Itsmy in Germany, Mocospace in the US to ebuddy and Nimbuzz in Holland and this week we’re going East with Mobamingle – the international version of THE SMASH HIT Japanese mobile service Mobile Game Town.
What is it?
For those who don’t know Mobile GameTown is one of the world’s most successful mobile internet services. The site is based around a mobile avatar community with the usual chat and social features. However, Mobile Gametown (or Mobage Town for short) also provides a range of flash games and other services like mobile story telling – a new kind of mobile user-generated content format. The site has:
– 10m plus users
– 15 bn monthly page views
– $200m in annual revenues from a mix of advertising/ affiliate deals and sales of its internal currency
Mobamingle provides a very similar service aimed at the US and other countries including the UK, and Europe. All the main features are there including all the community elements (groups, forums) as well as the mobile story-writing feature.
The main big difference is that Mobamingle doesn’t yet offer the huge range of flash-based free mobile games that have been key to growing traction for the service in Japan. Even today, support for, and awareness of flash in mobile handsets is pretty low in the West. However, Mobamingle DOES feature the full-on cutesy Japanese style avatars!
Why is it interesting?
Mobamingle heralds a new wave of Japanese mobile businesses expanding internationally. The first wave was all about big acquisitions, such as the service provider itouch being acquired by For-side in 2005, or the string of acquisitions that Index made between 2004-5 (123 Multimedia, Mobliss). The second wave is going to be different – sites and services which have worked in Japan are going to create international versions and use the learnings and technologies they’ve developed to succeed.
Having Japanese players enter the market is going to mean local players have to really RAISE THEIR GAME. Dena is reportedly investing $3m in the international launch of mbmgl and the site is amazing usability-wise with some great design touches and a BEAUTIFUL mobile UI.
These new services could also help to spread new mobile business models in the US and Europe. For example, Mobile Game Town’s use of virtual currency is already being adopted by US and European mobile startups like Heysan, Itsmy and Flirtomatic. If sites like Mobamingle can help get consumers used to the idea of paying for mobile services beyond ringtones and other personalisation content then the whole industry could see a huge boom in revenue.
The launch of Mobamingle can only be good news for the mobile web – it’s a massive bet that mobile internet is taking off in the US and Europe and that consumers are ready for mobile-only social services like this. We have been waiting nearly a decade for the success of Japanese mobile internet to be replicated over here and it looks like it might finally be happening.