October 21, 2014

34 Weeks of OHA: #10

Company Name: KDDI Coporation

How the OHA site classifies them: Mobile Operator

What the OHA site says about them: KDDI is a telecommunication operator that provides wide-ranging services from mobile to fixed in Japan.

What they do: KDDI Corp. is a Japanese telecom company, formed after the merger of DDI Corp., KDD Corp., and IDO Corp. (I’m not making this up) in 2000. They offer ISP services, ADSL broadband, land-line telephone, and mobile services. In America they operate as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator on the Sprint network under the KDDI Mobile brand, offerring packages designed to meet the needs of Japanese people living in the US, including calls to Japan.

They offer a suite of services known as Ezweb, which is a horrible name to a native English speaker, but I’m sure sounds fine to the Japanese. Ezweb includes eznavigation (location-based services), ezmovie (movie clip delivery), ezappi (BREW) and Chaku-Uta-Full (!!! — a music download service). Much of this stuff was introduced by KDDI back in a time when the average North American handset was still struggling with color displays.

Basically, they’re just another carrier. Not much to see here. Except for one thing: about a month before the OHA and Android announcement, KDDI issued a press release that opened with this paragraph…

KDDI (TSE: 9433), Japan’s only comprehensive communications service provider from fixed to mobile, has announced the fall introduction of an advanced behavioral targeting advertisement system, which analyzes … cellphone users’ website logs and visit frequency to provide them with advertisements tailored to their needs…

What they bring to OHA and Android: Most of the Mobile Carrier stuff is boring as hell, so I’m gonna skip any further discussion of it here.

That bit about the ads however, is extremely interesting. “Advanced behavioral targeting” is how SkyNet started out, dontcha know. And, it sounds very similar to what we hear Google is looking to do with Android.

The system will initially cover mobile websites on “au one” only, but KDDI and its partners plan to utilize other types of data, excluding personally identifiable information, to provide behavioral targeting advertisement solutions beneficial to both customers and advertisers…

Of course, we don’t know if KDDI is sharing its targeted ad tech with Google, and I’m sure Google has the resources to R&D its own mobile ad systems, but it sounds like an awfully nice fit. Google and KDDI have a history together; in 2006, KDDI signed a deal to incorporate Google search into EZweb, and later decided to use Google Mail as the foundation for its own mobile mail offering. Does the relationship extend further? What exactly do KDDI’s system and Google’s evenutal system have to each other. Is Google looking to the KDDI example as a test case? Will the two systems share algorithms? If I wanted to start a rumour, and drive traffic to this site, is this a good basis for wild conjecture?

Or is it coincidence? There are other carriers in the OHA, presumably involved simply because it looks like a good bet for the future of mobile; is KDDI just another forward-thinking mobile service provider? You be the judge.

Additional Link: KDDI on Wikipedia