Mobile game and SNS site tops 4 million users March 13, 2007Posted by fukumimi in games, Internet, Japan, Mobile, Shopping.
mbga.jp, the mobile phone portal offering games, avatars and social networking, has announced that has exceeded 4 million users on March 10th. mbga.jp is run by DeNA, a rival for Rakuten in the retail e-commerce sector with its virtual shopping mall and on-line auction services, and run by ex-McKinsey consultant (Ms.) Tomoko Nanba.
The portal opened its doors last February, and mbga.jp seems to be the front runner in the games and SNS sector, as far as dedicated services for mobile phones are concerned.
This is reflected in the age of its users, more than half (56%) are aged 19 or below, with another 32% of users in their twenties. Mobile phones are becoming the major device from which younger users are accessing the internet, according to a Netratings report published last November. Over the last 6 years, the percentage of people in their twenties who access the internet from a home PC has plummeted from 23.6% to 11.9%, which is barely above the percentage of people in their fifties. Interestingly, the percentage of people in their thirties who access the internet from a home PC has also declined (from 27% to 24%), whereas the 40+ age groups all saw an increase. The ~19 age group has increased from 17.3% to 20.9%, but even this growth is lower than that seen by the 40~49 age group, who went from 19.5% to 24%, tying with the 30~39 age group as the most active users of the internet via their home PC. Facta has an interesting article which details the statistics quoted above in graphical form (in Japanese only unfortunately), which notes that younger people, especially once they start working, are less and less exposed to a PC, a trend which may result in another digital divide between users who can use a PC and those who rely more heavily on their mobile phones. But the numbers do bode well for services which target the mobile phone, especially with regards to a younger user group. The current teenagers and twenty-somethings are likely to take their behaviour with them even as they grow older.
The success of mbga.jp and the fact that it has survived competition against players like Rakuten and Yahoo! Japan in the PC web based businesses it runs is reflected in the share price for DeNA, which has steadily risen since the IPO in early 2005, in contrast to many of the hyped internet IPOs. The company is current valued at JPY181B, or a little over $1.5B, which must make Nanba-san the most successful female Japanese internet entrepreneur.
And in contrast to many of the internet entrepreneurs who have hit the jackpot bringing overseas business models and simply localising them for the Japanese market, mbga.jp has the potential to be a model which can be successfully exported elsewhere. Nanba-san is better qualified than most to make DeNA a global leader in mobile content, with her McKinsey and Harvard MBA background.