Facebook Spot Information Is Jacked By A Giant Japanese Coupon Business Player

Facebook Spot Information is becoming popular in Japan after Facebook had started Check-in Coupon (Check-in Deals) in Japan.

Facebook Japan Holds An New Coupon Service Launch Event In Shibuya

The problem arouse when Recruit[E], Japan’s largest coupon business player, registered spot information of restaurants on behalf of restaurant owners without enough notification.

Hitoshi Nakamura(twitter id: hitoshi[J]) , one of the most famous restaurant owner who has a deep knowledge on social marketing, reported on his blog that  Recruit registered spot information of his restaurant without getting agreement from him.

He noticed this when his customer requested to use a deal posted by Recruit on Facebook spot information.

( This photo was uploaded by Hitoshi.)

Recruit is operating a service known as Hot Pepper[J], a free paper media distributed in town like “am New York” [En] or “metro [En]” but only includes coupons of restaurants and beauty salons instead of articles. There is also an web site to search restaurants and coupons on Hot Pepper. Shop owners pay fixed fee per month to get their coupons printed on this media.

With those data of restaurants and coupons, Recruit, instead of restaurant owners, started registering spot information with coupon. Recruit sent this announcement to 40,000 restaurants and registered information of restaurants except those replied to not register. That means when there was no response, Recruit also registered shop information, took an opt-out process.

As a result, duplicated shop information had registered for some restaurants already have their shop information on Facebook. Recruit says, they checked restaurant names to prevent to register another shop information for those who already registered them on Facebook. But if there is a slight change on the name of restaurants, spell, big letter or small letter, with or without hyphen , etc., spot information had registered in additional to the original one.

This had caused troubles. Restaurant owners with original spot information could not publish Check-in coupon since Recruit had already published coupons for another spot information with the name of same restaurant, and Facebook judged it as a break of service agreement. So Recruit jacked the spot information and the right to publish coupon.

Recruit de-registered shop information for those requested to do so but not only restaurants, Recruit also had  registered spot information of hotels on their hotel reservation site, Jalan[J].

This case implies that anyone can register shop information to get more exposure on Facebook Check-in. Yelp, Expedia, or any other player can do similar thing. Although they can not connect directly to their services at least you can get more awareness for your service.

So how Facebook will respond?

Is this going to be another battle field to get a better position on the list of web page like we do for Google search results?

Snapeee: Can Teen Taste Snapshot Sharing Win Hearts Of The Young In Asia?

Tokyo-based tech start-up Mind Palette[J], who was chosen as one of the five projects that Cyber Agent support in their incubation program, released the iPhone app called Snapeee this week.   It is a picture-based social network platform that has a feature of decorating user’s snapshots, that is deeply inspired by the Japanese subculture fashion that teenage girls would prefer to get their own snapshots decorated with glitter and animated clip arts.

The company’s CEO and founder Yuji Kobayashi says, they’re expecting to engage potential users not only in Japan but in the world.  The app became available as short as several days ago, but it is getting large endorsements from the web community in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where the J-pop culture attracts the younger generation.

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Kayac Introduces FB-integrated VoIP App For The iPhone

Kanagawa-based funny app developer Kayac introduced Reengo, a VoIP app for the iPhone that allows you to place a call to your Facebook friend without dialing the number.   According to TechCrunch Japan[J], the company chose Facebook from available options as an integration platform because they would like to spread the app out globally.

As of this writing, the app is available only on the Japanese AppStore, however, it will be released internationally as soon as their server-side environment stands by for possible heavy load.   That will be happening in a couple of days, they say.   They’re planning to introduce the app for the Android handsets in late-May.

Which Foreign Startups Are Doing Well In Japan “Under The Radar”?

It’s no secret that in recent years, quite a few foreign (mostly American) web brands have made it big in Japan: Google, YouTube, Twitter, Wikipedia, Amazon etc.

But what about startups that don’t have huge budgets to internationalize, no staff in Japan and – in some cases – not even a Japanese user interface (usually a dealbreaker for most local web users).

Here’s a recent (yet surely incomplete) list:

  • Instagram (we just recently reported about the silly printed how-to-use-Instagram book available in Japan)
  • Foursquare (KDDI wants to help Foursquare to become bigger in this country)
  • Bump
  • Hootsuite
  • Jimdo
  • Tweetdeck
  • Tumblr (official data submitted from Tumblr to Quantcast shows Japan is their No. 5 market worldwide)
  • Seesmic

In 2010, Evernote established an office in Japan, the company’s No. 2 market worldwide, so it can’t really be part of this list – even though the app was already very popular before that.

Which foreign web and mobile startups flying under the radar in Japan have we forgotten?

BeeTV: Docomo’s Mobile TV Service Hits 1.5 Million User Mark

Mobile TV is often cited as being a dream of the future in most markets, but it has been around in Japan, the world’s most advanced mobile nation, for years.

The majority of the 100+ handsets Japan gets every year comes equipped with a 1Seg digital TV tuner (some even have 2 tuners to watch one TV program and record another simultaneously). 1Seg as a standard was established as early as 2006.

And in May 2009, Japan’s biggest mobile carrier NTT Docomo and major media content company Avex have established BeeTV to capitalize on the wide distribution of mobile TV tuners in Japan. For a monthly fee of 315 Yen/$3.80, BeeTV subscribers can view original content on their cell phones: dramas, cartoons, music videos etc. (provided they are i-mode users).

A few days ago, Avex issued a report [PDF] according to which the number of users has hit the 1.5 million mark in December 2010. BeeTV has grown from 0 to 560,000 users in just two months in 2009, but growth has slowed down significantly, especially in the last six months of 2010.

Here’s the chart from the report:

When BeeTV launched, the plan was to attract 3.5 million users by March 2013.