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DoCoMo to auction “i-mode” items. Criticized as loss of “convenience”

6, 13. 2008

   NTT DoCoMo, Inc. is to auction some of the items shown on the official site of the "i-mode," the internet service for mobile phones of the company. Hitherto the items have been shown in the order of the frequency of accesses. In the future, however, they will be shown in the order of bid amounts. The change is believed to be aimed at raking in more profit from the official sites. As items are frequently used, critical voices are heard from the providers of the contents that the change might cause the loss of "convenience" for the users.

Users will have wider variety of choices, says NTT DoCoMo

Site items on DoCoMo “menu list” to be auctioned
Site items on DoCoMo “menu list” to be auctioned

   NTT DoCoMo will auction some of the items on the official site "menu list" of its "i-mode" in early June. The "menu list" is the page that carries the "weather," "traffic" and other reports, and it is shown at the top of the portal site "iMenu" of the "i-mode." It is a tool of high convenience for the users as the sites for mobile phones can be found for different categories starting with most searched ones by using a search engine.

   Among the items, those to be auctioned are 10 items, including "work, live, study," "chaku-uta (ringtone song) full," "chaku-uta, chaku motion," "ringtone melody, karaoke," "waiting page, frame," "game," "fortune teller, diagnosis," "comic, books" and "deco mail." They are scheduled to reflect the amounts of bids for them starting on June 23, 2008.

   If the "work, live, study" is clicked, for example, four sites, including "from A" and "baitoru for baito (part-time work)" will appear under the sub-item of "arubaito, part," and the order of appearance of all these sites that appear under the sub-item will be changed to the bidding. To see the item list shown in order of accesses, the users will have to click again to go to a different page.

   Explaining why the auctioning system will be introduced, a person at the public relations at NTT DoCoMo told J-CAST News:

"The 10 sites (items) have kept appearing in more or less the same order. Even if new sites are made, they can not cut into the top places occupied by old ones for a long time, and it is monotonous. It is possible that the users will be provided with wider ranges of choices (by switching to the bidding-based order)."

   The company is said to clearly indicate to the users that it is a "promotion site," and the bidding will be conducted every month.

   The providers of the contents for the items that are frequently accessed, in the meantime, are taking a critical stance toward the change. G-mode Co., which is proving game contents for the items, said, "We can not but follow what DoCoMo decides. The bidding has not started yet, and we have to wait and see for the time being and can not make any further comment at this point." Not a small number of contents providers do not hesitate, however, to express their dissatisfactions.

It will be a problem if au and SoftBank also move to auction system

"It's a problem. We are troubled because the cost becomes unpredictabnle as the bidding will be conducted every month. (The menue list) is of a highly public nature. I wonder if it is all right that the ranking is decided by money."

   This comment came from a contents provider whose site is placed high in ranking in an item of the menu list. As the operation cost that will depend on the result of the "auction system" will become totally unpredictable, this provider further said that "it would be a serious problem if au and SoftBank also started auctioning."

   A person from another contents provider offering an item ranked high on the "menu list" criticiaed by saying:

"The users who used to access to the items whithout any special effort to allure them on our part will have to pay money to make the access. This is clearly a weak point of the new system. I wonder what made them introduce the new system. The new system denies the convenience for the users who had full trust in the 'menu list' DoCoMo in the past. I wish the service for the users had been tanken into consideration at first."

   As far as the providers are concerned, they had only to make efforts to create high-quality contents in order to hold high places on the "menu list" in the past. Their true opinion seems to be that they can not agree with the introduction of the new system in which money becomes the criteria without giving consideration to the convenience for the users. There are some providers that avoid criticizing face to face by saying, "We are coexisting with DoCoMo. We can only follow them whatever they do."

   According to a person in charge of the public relations at DoCoMo, the reaction to the dissatisfactions expressed by the providers is, "When we conduct the campaign, they (the providers) have the possibility of offering their contents to the items (occupying the high ranking places) by bidding at special times. They should thus find strong points in the new system for them."

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