I’ve alreadyÂ taken a look at some of Second Life’s Japanese sightseeing spots, so for this post I thought I’d look at the business side of things and see what the Japanese cell phone providers are doing in this virtual world.
First up was NTT DoCoMo, who haveÂ a very prominent tower in the center of their 3D island, and around it is an “Advanced Technology” room, a museum, a shop and best of all, a cell phone jump! The technology room appears to be nothing more than a conference room, but the musuem is very interesting. In it, you can see some of Japan’s achievements, such as the construction ofÂ Rainbow Bridge, and match them to DoCoMo phones from the same year. The shop has some huge 3D models of currently available handsets and clicking them loads the DoCoMo website in your web browser, so you can see more details. The “Keitai” jump is like a ski jump except you ride down the slope on a phone instead of skis. I jumped 51 meters and drew a round of applause from the invisible crowd. I’ll definitely go back and try to beat it.
The Softbank island is bizarre. It is covered with oversized cell phones, some standing in the streets, other floating in the sky. According to the welcome sign,
This is a secret research institute in the middle of the ocean. It seems like a normal town, but if you look up there are strange mobile phones afloat… In fact, there are secret messages hidden in these mobile phones. Find these messages to win our original prize.
I didn’t hang around to find out what the keywords or the mystery prize was, but I was impressed by the look of the island. They’ve based it on a real city with skyscrapers, cars and cardboard cutouts of people talking on their phones. When you walk into the showrooms, these cutouts welcome you with the Japanese phrase “Irashaimase”. If you want more information on the phones, you’ll have to click through to the Softbank website, but they do give you a free phone for your “second” life, which stores all your photos and plays them back as a slideshow.
Finally, I paid a visit to the KDDI Designing Studio, where I hoped I’d find some AU offices.Â The outside was very colorful and welcoming, and inside, a secretary was there to greet me. Instead of offices however,Â there was a room full of little dogs which you could pat or play fetch with. It had something to do with the AU One brand andÂ “one” sounding like “wan” in Japanese, whichÂ means “dog”.Â Unlike a pet store, you can actually take one of these little AU branded dogs away with you for free.
There isn’t really anything useful you can do atÂ these virtual offices unfortunately. However,Â gimmicks such as the cell phone jump, secret message competition, slideshow phones and takeway puppies are clever and uniqueÂ ways of promoting each company’s brand, and they’re fun, too. The mind boggles as to the future of virtual advertising.If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!