KDDI Will Offer Song Downloads
By Eric Lin, Fri Jul 09 22:15:00 GMT 2004

KDDI announced it will launch a new line of handsets and accompanying full song downloads service early next year. Unlike Western carriers, KDDI only intends to charge the same price as a PC download.

KDDI announced that it will launch a music download service for their 3G handsets next spring. It is the first Japanese carrier to announce such a service, however since the launch is more than six months away, it may not be the first to actually offer the service. KDDI will launch the service with new handsets equipped with 25 MB of memory for storing songs, it says models with ten times the memory are already under development.

KDDI is currently in negotiations with labels, but it has already stated it would like to price the tracks with respect to the average price of PC-based music downloads in Japan: 210 yen. T-Mobile, which recently announced their Ear Phone music download service, charges at least 50% more than PC downloads on the continent, and 100% more in the UK, and that's not even for full length songs. Since KDDI is talking about an average of 5 MB per song, it's safe to assume they will be full length tracks.

Another interesting fact came out in the report on KDDI's launch. In addition to trying to price song downloads reasonably, KDDI actually charges less for ringtunes (its now famous chaku-uta) than the cost of a song download. Ringtunes only cost JPY 105 for KDDI subscribers. This is in stark contrast to US and European carriers which charge anywhere from two to seven times the price of a song for a 30 second ringtone.

European and American carriers have looked to Japan as a model for pricing and content in the past. Any attempt to emulate KDDI's music and ringtone pricing would certainly be a refreshing change from a Western carrier.