Colopl Visualizes Where People Checking-In East Japan

Japanese Location based service Coropura( makes a map of east Japan to show where its users checked in the day before [J].

The hex displayed on the map means there were at least one check in yesterday. The map has a choice of cellphone carriers, Docomo/au/Softbank. Docomo must have more users and good coverage.

The screen shot below is a check-in map around Fukushima nuclear power plant on Mar 16th.

Colopl, one of the most successful location based service in Japan, has more than 1.5 million users, many of who play location based game on Japanese cellphone and smartphone. The service really earn money and the company is expanding. (Asiajin 1, 2)

The map shows that even people on east coast of Tohoku, where massive tsunami hit, still are playing it. It may be possible to check in with fake location, but Colopl prevent it. It is good to see some people using cellphone there and living daily lives.

Both Google and MapFan provide a visualized map to show which roads were really used by collecting car navigation data helped by Honda and Pioneer. These are also good tools to see people’s activities in the area.


Facebook Launches Places in Japan

As reported earlier on TechCrunch, Japan has officially become the first country outside of the United States to receive Facebook Places. It comes as no surprise that Facbeook HQ made Japan top priority in releasing Places – with Japan’s social urban lifestyle and feature loaded cell phones, Japan is a hotbed for location services. Foreign location services like Foursquare and domestic services like CoroPura and have grown immensely popular; Shibuya Station reigns as the most checked in location in the world on Foursquare. The launch of Facebook Places also comes on the heels of Mixi’s latest announcement of their location service “Check-in”. With nearly all Japanese 3G cellphones having GPS functionality since 2007, all of these services have considerable room to grow – though it is still unclear whether Japanese users will opt for foreign or domestic services.

The launch of Facebook Places in Japan also comes preloaded with an extensive variety of locations already integrated thanks to an unnamed 3rd party database. Up until this weekend, the listed locations on Places was barren save for a few check-ins by beta testers. Now, locations in and around Tokyo are nearly complete, and even on my weekend adventure into the country side I found numerous locations pre-registered. While Facebook Japan continues with the development of their local mobile site and integration of “Like” buttons in major websites,  Facebook Places will play a role as Facebook Japan continues to grow their user base.

January 2010 Japan-IT Links (part 1)

Last week our RSS subscribers passed over 5,000, which is a good milestone. Twitter followers also increased to 400. Following @asiajin also will notify our latest articles. Thank you so much.

Here is the first half of January Japanese IT/Web interesting news links we did not take as a dedicated article. (part 2 is here)

Referred pages are all in Japanese, unless otherwise noted.

If you want to know any specific news more, but unable to find them in other English blog/media, please let us know.

As you see, we know a lot things to write but contributors time are limited. So we are looking for authors. We will help Japanese research/reading part so do not worry if your Japanese is not perfect.

We also want sponsorship to keep this group blog. Ideal if from Japanese companies because our initial motivation was to introduce them to non-Japanese web. Problem is we only write in English and they do not check English sites 🙂 If you know them please suggest us to them!

Cellphone Geo-Location Game CoroPura Gets 750,000 Users

By seeing Foursquare and Gowalla mentioned a lot on blogs and twitter, I noticed that Asiajin has not introduced how geo location mobile services are doing in Japan, where GPS capable cellphones are there for years.

CoroPura, which was originally named “Coronii-de-purasu”(Colony de Plus) and now the abbreviation became an official name, is a Japanese geolocation based cellphone game which started in 2003.

The service had been operated as a founder Naruatsu Baba’s personal hobby project for the first 5 years. Then he founded the same name company CoroPura in October 2008 by leaving his programmer job at Gree, rising social mobile network company.

In 6 years operation, CoroPura has been getting 750,000 registered users and the latest page views announced was 940 million per month, almost a billion. This might be the largest (larger than MyTown at this point) mobile geo-location community around the world.

In short, CoroPura can be described as “Sim City, GPS and social network”. You get your colony when you register, then you can build up your colony by purchase items with virtual points. So the game itself is similar to recent farming games on Facebook and Mixi. Plus, you may communicate on forums with others who are near your location now.

The big difference is that the game heavily depends on users’ location, it requires GPS loaded cellphone. To gain the virtual points “Pura”, you need to move in the real world and submit another location by GPS. Long distance move and frequent move will give you more points.

Supported by the Japanese cellphone environment, where you can expect almost all cellphone have GPS and web browser already in 2007, the service gets a lot of users, even though the site and the game itself is not so user friendly on the limited cellphone browser compare to PC browser.

The virtual items you can get in the game is said to be prepared more than 5,000. Virtual souvenir(=Omiyage) are only available when you visit that specific location, which eventually made some enthusiastic CoroPura pilgrims, who travel around Japan to get the rare items.

One of their interesting monetization is to collaborate with local stores. You may get collection cards “Coroka” at 33 partnered shops [J] around the nation. Many of them seem to be selected from countryside. Asahi Shimbun reports [J] that a fishcake store in Miyagi prefecture got 250 visitors in half month by this program. The store buys this Coroka cards from CoroPura.

photo by blogger Tommy

Another one is tied up with JR(Japan Railway) Kyushu [J].

In the third biggest Kyushu island, CoroPura offers Kyushu map to mark up on the service. JR Kyushu sells unlimited ride tickets for 2-3 days and is promoting CoroPura. User can also get Coroca cards at several stations.

CoroPura originally began with the forth cellphone(PHS) carrier Willcom. Now it also covers big 3 Docomo, KDDI au and Softbank mobile [J]. As usual, iPhone and other smart phones are not supported.

See Also:

Digital Cash Edy is available in CoroPura, 2009-11-30 [J]

CoroPura users Bus Tour report [J]

Nikkei Net report [J]

Official Blog [J]

Users Wiki to collect items, theme, souvenir, cards, etc. info [J]