Dial-a-concert? Japan software turns mobiles musical
By Chika Osaka
Making music just got easier. A Japanese game maker has teamed up with the nation's leading mobile phone network carrier to enable users to play an orchestra with their fingertips.
Game manufacturer Taito has created the "Chokkan Classic" software for NTT DoCoMo's i-mode Internet service that lets users to pick their instruments and the melody they want to play.
To activate the sounds, users must either rub or move a finger infront of their phone's infrared sensor. The sensor can also be used to sync several users' phones to create the myriad sounds of an orchestra.
A Taito performer, who called himself "Tricky," directed a full performance of Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" recently at the annual Tokyo Game Show as baffled viewers looked on.
"Sound is triggered once the sensor on the mobile phone captures any kind of movement in front of it," explained Tricky.
"If you stop the movement and let's say you're playing a flute, then the sound of a flute will completely stop.
"Whether you're playing a flute, violin or cello doesn't really matter because anyone can join and play as long as you're in sync during the session," he added.
Playing games and paying for goods electronically using mobile phones is common in Japan, the world's biggest market of 3G mobile users, where phones are swiped at ticket gates or vending machines to pay for train fares or drinks.
Taito says the new software was created to make classical music more accessible for younger mobile phone users.
With the interactive software, the company also hopes to survive the competitive mobile gaming market, which had suffered an unexpected slump last year, with many game developers and analysts pointing to weak distribution channels.
The number of mobile phones sold in Japan by NTT DoCoMo, which controls half the country's mobile market of 100 million users, dropped 21 percent in the April-June period from a year earlier.
According to Taito, tech-savvy consumers are no longer impressed by new applications that once drove sales such as music distribution, TV phones and camera phones.
Japan was the world's fourth-largest market for mobile phone sales in 2007, after the United States, China and India.