Nico Nico Douga Hits 28 Million Users, Generates US$46 Million In Sales Last Quarter

Nico Nico Douga, Japan’s answer to YouTube, is still growing nicely, five years after launch.

Dwango, the Tokyo-based company behind the popular service, released its financial report [PDF] for the last nine months (ending in June 2012).

And according to the report, Nico Nico (the company’s most important asset) reached 28.08 million users in June. In other words, nearly a third of Japan’s online population has an account, which is pretty amazing.

Another interesting tidbit of information is that Nico Nico has 1.69 million premium members who pay 525 Yen (US$6.70) per month for advanced features, for example better video quality:

Here are more details about who is actually using Nico Nico. Observe Dwango’s claim that 90% of Japan’s population in their 20s is a user:

Nico Nico is profitable and generated 3.6 billion yen (US$46 million) in sales from April to June this year:

Nico Nico’s English version can be visited here.

SoftBank Starts Using The 900MHz “Platinum Band”

There can be no doubt that SoftBank is the mobile carrier with the weakest network among Japan’s big three telcos, following that of NTT Docomo and KDDI. But now there is hope that things will finally change for the better.

Back in March this year, the Japanese government decided to allocate the 900-megahertz band (also dubbed “platinum band”) to SoftBank. And yesterday, the company finally started using the band, with plans to set up a total of 42,000 compatible base stations all over Japan by 2019.

Users can check the areas that are serviced by visiting this website (it looks like large parts of Greater Tokyo will get covered by September this year).

SoftBank, which currently has 30 million subscribers, expects cost for the network upgrade to amount to around US$10.5 billion.

Last month, the Japanese government allocated another “platinum band” to Docomo, KDDI, and eAccess: SoftBank’s rivals plan to use the 700-megahertz band for their LTE services from 2015.


Rakuten Starts Featuring Pinterest On Its Japanese Marketplace And Other Properties

Japan’s biggest e-commerce company Rakuten (US$15 billion market cap, about 80 million user accounts in Japan) has started featuring Pinterest on some of its biggest websites yesterday.

Big R caused a major splash in back in May when it led a massive US$100 million investment in the American startup.

Rakuten CEO Mikitani was quoted as saying that his company has many dormant users with a Rakuten ID who he would like to see re-activated by teaming up with Pinterest.

TechCrunch wrote in May:

It is this ID that will potentially become the lynchpin of a commercial service on Pinterest: “We want to enable our users to pin their own images with our ID,” he says. “Users can click and buy with it, and in the future we can create more new services.” He notes that the “rich, graphic social network” can be used for “so many interesting ideas using the Rakuten ID.” One other area, TechCrunch understands, is for users logged in with Rakuten IDs to pin images and then use those pins to buy items away from Pinterest, on Rakuten’s own Rakuten Ichiba site.

And now this plan is being put into practice.

“Pin it” buttons are now visible in the Rakuten Ichiba virtual mall, Rakuten Travel and Rakuten Recipe, enabling users to send images to their Pinterest pinboards with one click.

The “Pin it” button is actually hard to spot, but don’t be surprised: that’s typical Rakuten design.

What I find weird is that certain pages don’t seem to feature the Pinterest button, i.e. the one for the Kobo Touch reader that was introduced a few days ago and is currently the most popular item (perhaps because it’s just a pre-order):

For beginners, Rakuten also set up a special “How to use Pinterest” page, which can be accessed here.

KDDI’s Subsidiary Wire And Wireless To Offer Free WiFi At Starbucks, Starting From Tokyo

Wire and Wireless (wi2), a subsidiary of Japan’s second largest cellphone carrier KDDI, announced [J] its new free WiFi program at Starbucks Coffee chain-store in Japan.

Free WiFi at cafe? If you have ever tried to find free WiFi in Japan, you know this is a news.

The free WiFi program, “at_STARBUCKS_Wi2”, is sponsored by Starbucks Coffee Japan. What you need to provide is your mail address, when you use at registration. Although Wi2 is a KDDI company, there are no carrier restriction, which you might face at the many Japanese shops/restaurants where posting “free WiFi” stickers.

Wi2 offers English site and customer service besides Japanese, this seems reasonable as in Japan, visiting foreigners are the most likely people who need free WiFi.

They are to install the service since July 2, first from 200 stores in central Tokyo (out of 227), then by the end of this year, 850 of 955 shops nationwide will have it, according to the release. You will be able to search the free WiFi Starbucks here.

via ITMedia [J]

Amazon Japan Preannounces Kindle Coming “Soon”

Amazon Japan’s top page is showing a new text banner that says its e-book reader Kindle will be sold in Japan soon, today on June 26. The time it was displayed seemed around 15:15, 30 minutes ago, by Twitter tweets.

Amazon periodically expressed their putting Kindle to Japan market. There have been also several leaked news reporting that some publishers had agreed with Amazon for several times, which were denied or ignored by the rumored middle-sized publishers like Kadokawa.

Ascii got a comment [J] from Amazon Japan that they would be able to announce something by the end of this year. Ketai Watch was answered [J] that Amazon Japan has no comments on which model of Kindle, price of the hardware and subscription, and the detail of the service.

Japanese e-book market had been larger than US’s until recently despite its smaller population, so it means there are already many e-book players here. Some experts say that Amazon tries to bring the same or similar conditions to Japan with what they contracted with US publishers, which might keep major Japanese publishers away from table of negotiation. Device-wise, the latest Kindle already has an ability to show texts in Japanese fonts.

via Twitter trending topics