Newsweek looks at the popularity of comics delivered via cell phone:

Consumer demand for manga (the Japanese word for print comics) has surged in recent months, thanks to high-speed 3G phones, the proliferation of fixed-rate plans, and high-quality LCD displays.

The growth in manga shows how hard is it to predict what effect new technologies will have on old markets. Manga publishers initially thought that a phone service would appeal to commuters, but customers have turned to their mobiles to read comics more at home, especially after 11 p.m., than on the move. “I’d imagine at that time of day many people are reading comics in the dark,” says Yutaka Tashiro, director of content planning at Shueisha Inc., Japan’s major publisher.

The other surprise is that women account for the lion’s share of mobile manga consumers. NTT Solmare, one of the nation’s largest content providers, initially targeted salarymen but received a tepid response. Women then wrote in asking for more female-oriented titles. When the company added them last summer, demand soared, says Katsuyuki Kobayashi, a deputy general manager. Today 60 percent of his customers are female, up from 20 percent. One of the appeals to an online comic, he believes, is that people can buy racy titles like “Love Junkie” or “I Could Not Wait Until Night” without being seen.

Read the whole piece. When our phones catch up with Japan, this might very well be us.


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