Softbank posts ¥15B Q4 loss

Softbank says the loss was due to one-time costs, including the launch of the new hikari service. Though this was a rough quarter, their yearly profit was down only 3.7 percent, which was slightly better than DoCoMo’s drop of 3.9 percent.

DoCoMo is exclusively a mobile phone operator. Softbank is involved in a wide range of markets but its core business, mobile phones, seems healthy. Softbank has been leading the mobile industry in new mobile contracts for 23 straight months.

With regards to the iPhone, Softbank has continued to be aggressive. They keep lowering the barrier to an iPhone every few months. First they lowered starting data rates to ¥1029, then came the iPhone for Everybody campaign, and just two days ago they cut their starting data rate again, this time to ¥490.

Softbank posts ¥15B Q4 loss

This middle name will be the death of me

Me: Do you think we should give her a middle name?
Her: I thought you didn’t want to do that.
Me: I know, but if we go overseas she will be the only one without a middle name.
Her: Okay, we should give her a really Japanese name though.
Me: Like “Sakura”?
Her pulls face: No!
Me: How about “Karōshi”?

Foreign marketshare of the Japanese internet

Whether it be preferences for food, electronics or cars, Japan is often accused of being, shall we say, “domestically oriented”. How do Japanese preferences reflect in their use of the internet? The Japanese Social Media Prism shows strikingly few foreign firms. This caused me to ask: how does a foreign company crack the Japanese Social Media Prism? The only conclusion I could make was simply don’t be Yahoo!.

Data from alexa.com on the top 100 sites accessed in Japan, divided into three groups of ownership (Domestic, Affiliate, and International) show that 65% of Japan’s top sites are domestic. 34% are either International firms or Japan-based affiliates. Whether or not this is a healthy ratio should be determined by examining a similar internet environment (any suggestions?).

Foreign marketshare of Japanese internet graph

Looking at the entire list of 100 categorized by type of site and ownership it is interesting to note that nearly all offer Japanese localization. In the case of Twitter, this was not essential. Also, Veoh.com has no Japanese interface but half of its audience comes from Japan. Yet one must remember that Japanese is the fourth most used language on the internet (after English, Chinese and Spanish).

Surprising to me, mobile access was not a prominent feature on the list of 100. In Japan many people access the internet with only a mobile phone. This may be due to Alexa’s data-gathering methodology.

Although I didn’t do an historical analysis, time of entry into the market might be an important factor to success in Japan. This I believe was the key to the failure of Facebook.

If you are an international social network service looking for a break in Japan take a look at the gaps in the social media prism and the top 100 that Japanese-language sites are not filling. Then make it easy for Japanese users to share Japanese content (eg. text, music or video) on your network through a Japanese-language interface (like Youtube) or minimalist interface(like Twitter). In the end, it is the content on the network that will attract users. Content will beat out features every time.

The entire dataset, including categorization by type of site and ownership is available here. If anyone wants the spreadsheet for some reason, please feel free to DM me on Twitter

…if you ask me whether or not I’m an atheist, I wouldn’t even answer. I would first want an explanation of what it is that I’m supposed not to believe in, and I’ve never seen an explanation.

Noam Chomsky, Common Sense, 2002

Never thought I would agree with Chomsky on philosophical matters but…

Japanese Social Media Prism

Asiajin links to a visual representation of Japanese social media. I don’t get the color scheme, or the non-smoothed WinXP text, but it is nice to get an overview of the various services in use in Japan. The authors note the lack of Japan-based international sites but my question is how does one crack the Japanese Social Media Prism?

Japanese Social Media Prism

Some international sites are represented and some not. For more than a year now there have been print books about Twitter available in major bookstores. The buzz was so amazing that Twitter released a Japanese version last year, the only localization other than English. Facebook also rolled out its Japanese-language interface last year, but was a far-too-latecomer, completely losing out to the dominant domestic social network site Mixi. Flickr, a Yahoo! property with no Japanese-language interface, is also not widely known in Japan. Yet its video equivalent YouTube is extremely well-known but did not make the list. Delicious, also owned by Yahoo! isn’t on the list, has no Japanese interface and does not seem to be in competition with Hatena Bookmarks. Does Yahoo! Japan keep out the international Yahoo! properties? Why would they do that when they do not offer equivalent domestic services?

I need more data to figure this out. Sounds like a job for What Japan Thinks.

Related: See more international social prisms

Japanese Social Media Prism