SOURCE: Gracenote

June 13, 2005 06:00 ET

KDDI Selects Gracenote and Media Socket to Provide First Music Identification Subscription Services With Instant Downloads for World's Largest Mobile Music Market

"Listen and Search" and "EZ TV" Enables People to Discover and Purchase New Music Anywhere They Hear It, Including While Watching on New TV-Tuner Handsets

EMERYVILLE, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 13, 2005 -- Today, KDDI, Japan's leading provider of mobile music, is launching the first subscription-based digital music download services enabling subscribers to identify and purchase music instantly on the handset. Partnering with Gracenote®, a global leader in digital entertainment technology and content, and MediaSocket, award-winning provider of BREW applications, KDDI's "Listen and Search" and "EZ TV" offer fully integrated services enabling subscribers to simply press the "Search" button on supporting handsets to discover and purchase music instantly. KDDI leads Japan, and the world, in mobile music; KDDI's 3G handsets capable of playing "full songs" reached a total of two million units sold in March 2005, (approximately double the number of iPods sold in the Japanese market to date); the company sold 1.8 million full song downloads in March 2005, four times the number of any other Japanese digital music provider. KDDI's "Listen and Search" is offered on three new handsets, enabling people to discover and purchase music played anywhere they hear it, including on the radio, in a bar or even on a TV playing in their living room. An extended service is available on two of these handsets, which include a built-in TV tuner; "EZ TV" enables people to identify music playing directly on the TV handset.

"We're very excited to be using Gracenote's global database and technologies," stated Makoto Takahashi, Vice President and General Manager of the Content Division, KDDI. "We've found that offering instant access to music and purchases is very compelling. For the first time, our customers will be able to identify songs they're hearing on the television, on the radio or other sources, and buy related content, such as ring songs, full songs or albums, at exactly the moment they're listening to that song."

Combining the strengths of Gracenote's technology and content, with Media Socket's state-of-the-art BREW application*, KDDI's services work as follows: A user hears a song they like playing on a music video, a TV commercial or from another source; the user pushes the "Search" button to find out more about that song. The service automatically uses Gracenote Mobile MusicID® to retrieve a match for that song in Gracenote's local waveform database and delivers the name of the song, artist and album to the handset. Gracenote's Link service then enables the recognized song to be linked to commerce, such as purchases of ring songs, full song downloads and CDs, providing a seamless approach for users to discover and purchase mobile music and related offerings through KDDI's WAP portal.

One of the strengths of these services is a high success rate for music recognized on the handset: The services are supported by Gracenote's global waveform database of 6 million fingerprints, including a Japanese database that uses local popularity ratings to offer recognition for many of the "most listened to" songs in Japan. Media Socket is responsible for integrating Gracenote's technology into the BREW application, and also runs the client application and day-to-day operations of the services.

"We choose to use Gracenote for the implementation of these services due to their long term approach to mobile music and the significant investment they've made over many years in building the best mobile music recognition and content integration technology," said Koji Urabe, CEO for Media Socket. "Additionally, Gracenote's music popularity ratings are critical to providing a high success rate for the music identification services; a key aspect for customer satisfaction and enjoyment."

Details of the Service:

Available in Japan, KDDI is offering three new advanced handsets, which provide quick access to the service through a "search" button within the application:

--  W32SA by Sanyo, (embedded TV-tuner)
--  W31T by Toshiba (no TV-tuner)
--  A5511T by Toshiba (embedded TV-tuner)
    
Subscribers are eligible for a 90-day free trial, after which time they convert to a paid monthly subscription, which is currently planned at 210 Yen per month. The Listen and Search application is pre-loaded on the above 3 handsets.

About KDDI

KDDI is Japan's second largest fixed line and second largest mobile telecom operator, and is global leader in many areas of technology and services. Based on leading edge technology, KDDI pioneered a variety of wireless services and business models in Japan: mobile music, location-based services, and more. Being the first to introduce flat rate data plans, KDDI forced the competitors to change their business model strategies. KDDI continues to set the agenda in Japan's hypercompetitive mobile markets. In the fixed line sector, KDDI is one of the first telecom operators globally to convert completely to IP-based operation over a national optical fiber infrastructure. KDDI offers "triple play" (phone, broad band internet and TV) over FTTH, and IP phone over leased copper lines to attack incumbent NTT's core business models and core income streams.

About Media Socket:

Established in June 2000, Media Socket is a leading provider of network application services, centered around communication on mobile platforms. Over 1.5 million people in Japan and the United States have used Media Socket's mobile messaging applications to connect with friends, music, movies, messages and games. As a Brew Global Publisher, certified by Qualcomm Inc, Media Socket is the leading publisher of providing international contents and solutions in Japanese Market. *Media Socket's Wireless BREW Application HeartMail received the BREW 2003 Best Communication Application Award, and the BREW 2005 Best Communication Application Award for "Pop-Mailer," which is provided through KDDI's Mobile Solution Business Sector.

About Gracenote

Gracenote® is a leader in global digital entertainment technology and content. Formally known as CDDB, Gracenote provides critical embedded software and content to businesses that enable consumers to better manage, enjoy and discover digital media. Headquartered in Emeryville, California, Gracenote also has sales offices in New York, Tokyo, Berlin, Seoul and Hong Kong. Gracenote's solutions are embedded in leading media players such as Apple's iTunes, RealNetworks RealPlayer and AOL's Winamp and software applications for Creative, iRiver and Rio portable devices. Gracenote's technology powers leading home and automobile consumer electronics brands such as Alpine, Denon and Marantz, Kenwood, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony and Yamaha; as well as international mobile music applications for KTF, (Korea), Musiwave, (Spain), Oi, (Brazil), and Goldenbytes (Netherlands). For more information about Gracenote: www.gracenote.com/corporate/

Contact Information

  • Media Contacts:
    Gracenote
    Kathryn Shantz
    P: 510.428.7302
    C: 415.350.3518
    Email Contact

    Media Socket
    Kuni Kawashima
    JP: +81-3-6402-5188
    Email Contact