Japan's biggest contents and mobile serviceproviders Usen, NTT Docomo, and KDDI are heating up the mobile phone market for feature films with new services and upgrades this month.

Usen's Mobile GyaO service launched a major upgrade yesterday for subscribers to NTT Docomo's i-mode internet service to watch GyaO movie, animation, TV and sports content streamed to phones through the Windows Media Video (WMV) format which provides higher quality sound and video and streaming for feature-length films.

An initial 400 titles from GyaO's broadband content library are available, with more to be added. Recent additions include March Of The Penguins and O Brother, Where Art Thou'

GyaO currently has 19.1 million subscribers while i-mode boasts 48 million users nationwide.

Today NTT's main competitor KDDI and partner Okinawa Cellular announced the launch of a video rental service that allows subscribers to download feature films, condense and copy them to their mobile phones for viewing.

The Lismo Video rental service, available on 15 models of KDDI's au branded phones, makes this option available through proprietary Lismo Port PC software and a special cable.

KDDI's Movie Splash set top box video-on-demand service (previously only for TVs), already had licensing deals with five major Hollywood studios and now provides over 2,000 titles.

Feature films can be rented for $3 - $4 and viewed an unlimited number of times in a 48 hour period. Latest titles include The Bourne Ultimatum, Resident Evil: Extinction and The Brave One.

A $1 campaign offers older titles such as Spider-Man 2 and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, and TV series such as Heroes and 24.

KDDI currently has 25 million subscribers nationwide with internet-enabled phones.

Mobile phones are increasingly being targeted for movie tie-up promotions, ticket purchasing and trailers. Last week producer-distributor Gaga Communications offered i-mode subscribers the chance to see the first 10 minutes of sci-fi romance Cyborg She for a period of 24 hours before the film's third place opening in theatres on Saturday.