Japanese Cell Phone Providers in Second Life

I’ve already 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 have 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 of 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.

NTT DoCoMo in Second Life

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.

Softbank in Second Life

Finally, I paid a visit to the KDDI Designing Studio, where I hoped I’d find some AU offices. The outside was very colorful and welcoming, and inside, a secretary was there to greet me. Instead of offices however, 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 and “one” sounding like “wan” in Japanese, which means “dog”. Unlike a pet store, you can actually take one of these little AU branded dogs away with you for free.

AU KDDI in Second Life

There isn’t really anything useful you can do at these virtual offices unfortunately. However, gimmicks such as the cell phone jump, secret message competition, slideshow phones and takeway puppies are clever and unique 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!

4 thoughts on “Japanese Cell Phone Providers in Second Life

  1. I think Second Life is a lot more popular in Japan than in the rest of the world. I think Japanese culture would be more suited to it since the Japanese are so indirect. Not that that is a bad thing, I’m just making a comment. I wonder if Docomo is really behind it or if someone has just taken the liberty to make such a place.

    1. I don’t think anyone loves DoCoMo so much that they’d spend over $200 a month on land fees, research the company in such depth that they can create a museum, set up a shop with the latest handsets (always changing) AND work as a secretary, answering questions you may have about their service. 😉

      As for popularity, I googled “Second Life demographics” and found that in 2006, 78% of users were from the U.S, 8% from the U.K and 4% from Canada. That only leaves 10% for the rest of the world. Despite Japanese only making up a small percentage of overall usage, big companies still feel there are, or will be, enough users to make setting up virtual offices worthwhile. Alternatively, their employees might use them as virtual meeting spaces.

Comments are closed.