What FlashLite content is selling in Japan?

I get asked a lot by overseas companies, “what FlashLite content is actually selling in Japan?”

So here’s a round-up. Over here its custom menus, mobile games, and of course intro animations for sites to make them look pretty.

Flash portal sites
While not “content for sale”, all three carriers here use full-flash for their top menus. This has got people used to flash navigation in a big way.


Flash has mostly replaced bitmaps for screensavers over here, and it’s still a decent sized business. However, peope aren’t as active on setting screensavers as they once were; the novelty has worn off, and there are so many other options like using photos of your friends, or photos sent from a puri-kura machine. In addition, there are many many “katte sites” that basically upload graphics from magazines, that are free for users, making life even more tough for official content providers who are trying to charge for the same thing *and* pay royalties.

Bizmodel: mostly 200~300yen monthly subscription for “all you can download” (tsukai-houdai).


Chaku means arrival; “chaku-mero” is ringtone or literally arrival-tone. Ringtones also signalled the arrival of the mobile data biz in japan, and big groups inside the carriers have been riding on this ever since. Following on “chaku-motion” video-ringtone, and “chaku-uta” (arrival song, or MP3 ringtone in the US, including master rights). The carriers basically stuck chaku- on the front of many services they wanted to be hits – and so was born ChakuFlash – flash ringtones.

However, the timing was off. Chaku-flash doesn’t support real sampled audio, just cheesy midi tones. This is partly due to more complex synchronisation rights being required for slapping your own images to a real artist’s voice. So, chaku-flash basically stands for cheesy ringtones with cute animation. However cute the animation looks, if your ringtone sounds like a foreign phone, its embarrassing. Ringtones are meant to be heard and not seen. Batsu.

Bizmodel: chakuflash is mostly provided inside a portal with other items like screensavers, ringtones, on a 300yen/month subscription basis. Often the screensavers are “all you can eat” but the ringtones are not, since JASRAC payments are requested per song.

KDDI developer’s page

Flashcast and i-channel


Flashcast debuted with the docomo re-brand as “i-channel”, which is a *hugely* popular service. However, its basically a text-ticker delivered by email, which links to a flashfile (not really flash push media, but the ticker is a big hit).

i-channel is only available on Docomo, where they actually put a i-channel button on the phone – the ultimate level of commitment to a new technology.

DoCoMo i-channel info in english: http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/english/service/imode/make/content/ichannel/

Since i-channel updates (at least the text part) is pushed to the phone, this service acts as a great way to pull people back to your site. But it’s usually offered as a free service as part of an existing site; I haven’t come across a dedicated i-channel premium service as yet.

Flash menus (“kisekae”)

Custom flash menus have a dis-proportionately high level of downloads, compared to the number of handsets supporting them. But each file has to be made custom for each handset, much like the java fragmentation nightmare. however, there are high-hopes in the content community that custom menus will become the new screensaver (personalization) cash-cow.

Link to docomo info page in English

The KDDI equivalent page is not public unfortunately. Pikkle is an official KDDI content provider, so we’ve compared these two offerings in detail.

Biz model: chaku-flash and flahs menus are typically offered on flash portal sites, as part of an “all you can eat” model which maybe 300yen per month. Often these sites have a points system, like Pikkle’s own “Charajam”.

Flash Video

Not yet! Docomo is still at FL1.1, which is keeping the lid on things, but I’m not spilling any beans in pointing out that FlashLite 3.0 was RTM’d in in the first half of 2007. So given DoCoMo’s next round of 905 handsets expected in the Autumn you might anticipate some new video features here.

It’ll be interesting to see how adobe handle platform fragmentation with 1.1, 2.0 and 3.0 handsets all out at the same time…
Right now i cant even play japanese FlashLite 1.1 files on the FL9 PC player >o<


DoCoMo still being 1.1 means flashlite games are at the low-end. Additionally none of the big game companies have an interest in promoting this new technology, where the barriers to development are in one way lower – although, try to “program” pacman in flashlite 1.1 and you’ll be longing for Java.

There aren’t really any huge breakaway “official” flash game portals, but there has been a huge success in including casual flash games on all kinds of other sites – magazines, music services, general portals… and of course Social Networks (see below).

Typical bizmodel: 300yen/month, all-you-ca-eat, or free/advertising supported.

Flash and Social Networks

meanwhile, DeNA continues their rise to dominance with mobile-game-town They have over 50% of japanese teenagers subscribed to the site – its like cyworld was for Korea. This service has been the killer app for mobile, with its blend of flash games, avatars, points and social networking.

5M subs and growing, and none come from the carrier menu – it’s a completely off-deck service. The biggest official game site ever was 200k subs, so this is a Big Deal and a game changer for the biz here. “they come for the games and stay for the community”. I read somewhere that MBGA have over 50% of japanese teenagers subscribed to the site – its like cyworld was for Korea. This service has been the killer app for mobile, with its blend of flash games, avatars, points and social networking. And it’s a very different type of entertainment SNS fromthe PC sites. PC sites are tools, and mobile SNS are time-wasters, fun destinations.

Biz model: advertising – points/affiliate model. If you sign-up on for paid services offered by MBGA’s advertisers, you can get “mobile gold”, which can be used to power up your avatar. eg sign up for a 300yen ringtone site and get 250 Moba-Gold. A typical avatar item costs from 20 to 500 moba-gold.

Let’s Flash!

Here are some links to the carrier developer sites. Japanese only, sorry. In, ahem, no particular order:

Want to sell your content in japan?

If you are a flash content producer or developer overseas, and want to get your content distributed in Japan, please contact us: info at pikkle dot com. Pikkle operate official carrier services, Flash SNS sites, and also develop and supply games to many other official content companies here. We are the mobile flash specialistos!

And what is going on elsewhere?

So, what Flash content is selling in europe or the US? As of Sept 2007, almost 8 months after launch, I heard still only one company has any flash content on the US Verizon deck. Why is the world so black and white? From a huge boom in Japan, to a complete barren-waste land outside. How long can politics hold back the dam from bursting?


  1. What Flash Lite content is selling in Japan? at Kuneri bloggy Said,

    September 1, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

    [...] has a great post about the kinds of content selling in Japan. Although Japanese culture and habits are quite [...]

  2. Bill Perry Said,

    September 1, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

    thanks for sharing your perspective on things, good to see real world data points.

  3. Marcos Said,

    September 2, 2007 @ 7:42 am

    Nice article, very useful for all who want to develop contents for the Japanese market.

  4. Scott Janousek » Blog Archive » Commentary on Flash Lite from David "DC" Collier in Japan Said,

    September 9, 2007 @ 5:47 pm

    [...] This was posted already, but I finally had a chance to read through it. [...]

  5. biskero.org Said,

    September 10, 2007 @ 5:36 am

    [...] Scott, I saw this article from David when I was in vacation, great infos on Flash Lite in [...]

  6. The Obligatory Blog » Blog Archive » Big in Japan Said,

    September 27, 2007 @ 7:54 am

    [...] A roundup of what Flash Lite content is selling in Japan. Really striking is that people are buying custom menus (call them homescreens if you like) for their phones, just like they’d buy a ringtone. There are even hobbyists making these things, as demonstrated by the tutorials on flash-lite-tutorial.blogspot.com. [...]

  7. George Chen » Blog Archive » What FlashLite content is selling Japan Said,

    October 16, 2007 @ 11:25 am

    [...] Good thoughtful insight on the business side of FlashLite in Japan. [...]

  8. George Said,

    October 16, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

    Linking to your article. Thank you for thoughtful insight into Flash Lite in Japan.

  9. Stefan Wessels Said,

    October 18, 2007 @ 12:52 am

    Hi DC!

    Good article thanks! I know we were talking about you a while ago through Emma. Well now we are in Singapore so we are slowly moving closer to you – been doing some work with Cell Mobile and doing one of our first projects in Japan! Would be awesome to hook up when we finally make it there!


  10. Links | .:|randgaenge|:. Said,

    November 22, 2007 @ 5:30 pm

    [...] What FlashLite content is selling in Japan? – “DeNA continues their rise to dominance with mobile-game-town They have over 50% of japanese teenagers subscribed to the site – its like cyworld was for Korea. This service has been the killer app for mobile, with its blend of flash games, avatars, points Tags:mobile flash_lite games japan [...]

  11. Dan Said,

    March 5, 2008 @ 10:53 pm

    Hi all,

    Need to know what is the best applications for my domain

    ” comics.mobi ” … should I put FlashLite comics on it ?

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