Japan Major Mobile Phone Firms Stepping Up Efforts to Provide Metaverse Services

Yomiuri Shimbun
A smartphone display shows αU metaverse, a virtual space launched by KDDI Corp.

Major mobile phone companies are increasingly eyeing metaverse-driven revenue by attracting companies and individuals through exclusive events, such as those featuring celebrities, among others.

On March 7, KDDI Corp. launched αU metaverse, a 3D virtual space in which users can control personal avatars via a dedicated app, allowing them to move around in the space while speaking to each other via smartphone.

KDDI also plans to offer services where uses can enjoy live music performances, view 3D images from various angles and purchase non-fungible token (NFT) artworks. KDDI plans to sink about ¥100 billion into the project by fiscal 2025, while hoping for a similar sales return through event revenues and sales commissions, among other avenues.

“We aim to make αU metaverse a profitable, daily-use metaverse,” said Kazuhiko Chuman, deputy general manager of KDDI’s business creation division. at a press conference in Tokyo.

SoftBank Corp., meanwhile, aims to strengthen its business-related services. SoftBank owns a metaverse-based cell phone store run by an affiliate of major South Korean internet services firm Naver Corp. and has created an event space around the shop. SoftBank hopes to encourage companies keen to establish a metaverse presence to try advertising and holding events in the online space.

SoftBank also launched an NFT online marketplace on March 7, to sell goods related to pop idols and athletes.

For its part, NTT Docomo Inc. has been holding exchange events with pop idols and other gatherings in its XR World virtual space since last year.

The metaverse is increasingly seeping into the public consciousness but attracting users when no special events are taking place remains a major challenge. Mobile phone companies hope to boost the number of metaverse users by providing smartphone-only events and services, without the need for special goggles.