Twitter Paid Account Plan Clearly Denied By Digital Garage

Official Twitter Japan blog [J] just wrote about their local partner Digital Garage’s announcement, which negates the news reported Twitter Japan will start paid account service.

In response to media reports stating that Twitter Japan will be launching a paid-premium accounts service on Twitter, we would like to officially state that this is not correct. To be clear, Twitter service in Japan is a free service and neither Twitter Inc. nor Digital Garage, Inc. (JASDAQ code: 4819, headquartered in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan, CEO: Kaoru Hayashi, henceforth DG) have discussed or have any plans for paid-premium accounts. Also to clarify, Twitter Inc. and DG enjoy a commercial partnership but do not have a joint-venture arrangement in Japan.

The recent media reports are likely a result of a misunderstood presentation by a DG subsidiary, DG Mobile, about potential business opportunities that it could explore as a third party. DG Mobile’s presentation was unrelated and separate from the Twitter and Digital Garage partnership.

Translated by Twitter from Digital Garage Release [J]

Digital Garage apologized (by DG Mobile) to mislead and took time for correction on the release.

When I saw the ITMedia’s first report, I thought that this is another service like Twinavi and Twicco (see below). Just a third party payment service like Super Chirp. But the mocked Twitter timeline page on the presentation seemed too integrated as an outside service, which might make the misunderstanding.

If you have been watching the history of Japanese Twitter “official” services, you may know that there are many services around the borderline of “official”-ness.

  • Banner ads on the Twitter page in Japanese was confirmed by US Twitter as an experiment.
  • Twitter Japanese cellphone version, was promoted a lot by Biz Stone’s attendance on its launch event. It seems official but they use another domain twtr.jp
  • TwitVideo, video-sharing service by DG Mobile. This service accept twitter account/password so they should be able to access the main database of Twitter.
  • Twinavi, “Japanese Twitter *Official* Navigator” shows “powered by twitter”, run by CGM Marketing, another DG subsidiary
  • Twicco, Twitter Community Management Service by DG Incubation, another DG subsidiary
  • @twj is supposed a Twitter Japan’s official Twitter account. But its profile does not have a web site link, and says “(I’m) helping Twitter Japanese Version management”. This account is listed on the Japanese suggested users, which has around 30 Japanese twitter users.

Even for Japanese readers it is not easy to tell which is official and which is not. Japanese official blog ( http://blog.twitter.jp/ if “twitter.jp” is official ) only had mentioned the cellphone site, few links to @twj but no other “subsidiaries’ Twitter related services”.

My impression is that what Twitter requires to Digital Garage and what DG wants to do in Japan are not the same, and DG uses its subsidiaries to chase more original activities.

That hastiness is somehow understandable for me, by seeing Twitter did not support Japanese cellphones more than a year after its break in English. When reports tell “twitter.com” traffic peaked now in US, Twitter in Japanese is still growing, but that is because Twitter is not such popular yet. And many other players (Mixi, Gree already. Cyber Agent and -maybe- Hatena soon) are starting competing microblog services for Japan market.

If you want to read more Twitter news, check here.


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@akky is one of the first Japanese pro-bloggers [J]. He also leads Asiajin, writes a tech column on The Japan Times, consults for some foreign companies interested in Japanese web market. (please inquire to akimoto on gmail.com).