But Zynga also acquired a pretty successful photo sharing service that was developed by Unoh: Photozou,which went live in 2005 and can probably be best described as Japan’s homegrown Flickr. (During its company history, Unoh launched quite a few services, i.e. a movie information service or a mobile ad network that were both sold off later, too.)
Today, Tokyo-based Digital Garaget (Twitter’s partner in Japan) announced it acquired Photozou from Zynga Japan for an undisclosed sum (press release in English). DG says that Photozou currently boasts 130 million photos on its site, uploaded by some 2.4 million registered members.
For Zynga Japan, selling a photo sharing service it acquired “by chance” makes sense.
DG explains the deal like so:
DG will develop a communication service linked with a variety of media offered by the DG Group and its ventures, built around the photo sharing capability of Photozou. As the first step, DG is planning to collaborate with Twinavi (http://twinavi.jp/) run by its subsidiary CGM Marketing, inc. and a social media scrapbook service called Memolane (http://memolane.com/) run by Memolane, with which DG is in a capital and business partnership.
In addition, DG is planning to offer a series of Web services and applications to easily save photos shot with a smartphone on a cloud network and share them with family and acquaintances, targeting the rapidly expanding smartphone market.
DG says they consider to integrate Photozou into its international business, too.
In Japan, Google Trends for Websites indicates Photozou is more popular than Flickr, at least on PCs:
LinkedIn has released Japanese language support as its 10th language on October 18, 2011. Here is the top page for visitors when you set Japanese as your prior language.
LinkedIn Japanese localization plan was announced in September 2007 at first by its local partner Digital Garage. In this May, Digital Garage announced again the Japanese localization project, and this time the thing is getting done.
Most of menu items are translated in natural Japanese. When there are two ways of describing the original English menu text, it seems many texts are chosen with Katakana words, which show the original English in Japanese close pronunciations (e.g. akutibiti=activity, kyaria-samarii=carrier-summary), instead of Japanese counterparts(e.g. 行動=koudou=activity, 職歴=carrier-summary). With my internationalization expert background, I would say that their localization is done rather lightly. And if that was done intentionally (to make gap smaller against English menu), they might expect more Japanese people networks with English speakers after they get used to LinkedIn itself with Japanese menu.
Popular blog Netafull reported [J] that Risa Nakanishi (@BuzzTum), who has been serving for Yahoo! Japan for 12 years, sometimes called “PR Diva”, (as Yahoo! Japan has been the champion last decade) one of the center figure of Japanese web industry, left Yahoo! and joined Digital Garage(DG), the most known by its founder Joi Itoh.
On the interview, she told her jobs in Yahoo! Japan, including promotion of early days Yahoo! Auction (which killed eBay Japan), Yahoo! Search, and bloggers relation.
At DG, Risa told that she keep working as PR with projects like DG-assisting imported foreign services like Twitter and LinkedIn, global start-up incubation program Open Network Lab, etc.
As Risa said to Netafull, Digital Garage is a company who has been well known to industry people with long history, but not really popular to Japanese consumers when comparing to Yahoo! Japan. Her join may make the company’s image spread for more people who have not known them.
When Japanese are asked why Facebook, the world-level phenomenon, has not taken off in Japan yet, many answer that its user interface is hard to understand, which is strange because the UI did not keep away people in many other countries.
There might be some cultural issues which make it difficult to attract Japanese. An answer from quite uncertain direction is a newly launched information site Facebook Navi(f-navigation.jp).
“The world’s first official Facebook Navigation site” is a site contains the following items,
What is Facebook?
Facebook usage manual
Editors’ choice of Japanese Facebook pages
Editors’ choice of Facebook Apps
As Facebook has been translated to Japanese in 2008, all of these items must be well covered on Facebook itself, with using its social graph recommendation.
According to the about us page [J], this site is “the only one navigation service authorized by Facebook around the world”. The site is managed by Nabi Un’ei Iinkai(Navi management committee), which is noted that “there are no capital or administration ties with Facebook, Inc.”.
The lead managing company displayed is All About, Inc., which runs All About Japan [J], Japanese version of All About.
Different from Twitter, TwiNavi seems not so successful for me and I am unsure if it really helped Twitter’s popularity. But some net-illiterate people might became to know how to use Twitter via there, it is better than nothing. Facebook Navi could be another “learning from antecessor” idea from what Facebook saw Twitter’s Japanese success.
Digital Garage, Japan’s Internet conglomerate known for operating price comparison portal Kakaku.com and helping Twitter’s business operation, held a semiyearly conference event last week, which is called the New Context Conference 2011 Spring, where Japanese well-known tech investor Joi Ito and the world’s Internet authorities came together, most of whom have expertise in social media, radiation measurement and disaster prevention.
Dr. Chowdhury of Twitter started his speech with the first slide of Namazu, a giant catfish which causes earthquakes in Japanese mythology.
Starting with a keynote speech by Abdur Chowdhury (@abdur), the chief scientist of Twitter Inc., he explained how Twitter work had worked efficiently to communicate among people when the massive earthquake had hit the Tohoku Region on March 11, by showing us some animated infographics of how many tweets being exchanged across the globe during the time.
In the first session, five panelists from Japanese and foreign media discussed how mass media should tell the society what happened in the disaster while Twitter and other social media succeeded to deliver up-to-the-minute voices from the devastated areas. Hiroyuki Tsuruta[J], a student entrepreneur who had developed a website collecting tweets supporting our relief efforts, Pray for Japan[J], also joined the panel.
From left to right: Joi Ito (Digital Garage), Abdur Chowdhury (Twitter), Hiroyuki Tsuruta (Pray for Japan), Hiroko Tabuchi (New York Times Tokyo Correspondent), Tomoya Sasaki (Digital Garage) and Tatehiko Koyanagi (Nikkei Inc.)
In the second session, which was titled hardware and sensor network, four experts from radiation measurement device development and crisis response, they talked about how we can obtain parameters to protect ourselves from the invisible enemy when the government and a power company don’t disclose everything on the nuclear powerhouse accident. They introduced RDTN as a web mash-up that helps us learn a lot about what’s happening.
From left to right: Joi Ito (Digital Garage), Jun Murai (Keio Univ.), Ray Ozzie (ex-Chief Software Architect, Microsoft), Aaron Huslage (Crisis Response ICT Specialist) and Dan Sythe (CEO, Iospectra)
The third session, which is about speed and agile software development. In the crisis time of disaster, web apps helping people are needed to developed as rapidly as possible. Joi concluded that a variety of open source resources and cloud services made it easier to launch a web service very quickly, which contributed a lot to providing disaster-related information to the people having no chance to check out news updates on TV.
From left to right: Joi Ito (Digital Garage), Paul Campbell (HyperTiny), Michelle Levesque (ex-Social Product Manager, Google), Phil Libin (Evernote CEO)
Following more than a dozen of unconferences arranged by the attendees, there was an opportunity for four start-ups being incubated at Open Network Lab[J] to present what they had made for the last several months. Open Network Lab is a seed acceleration program by Digital Garage and intends to be Tokyo’s version of Y-Combinator. All services introduced are currently under development, and I will try to let you figure out what they are, but no details are available at the moment.
Groupelago is a web service that allows you to aggregate social feeds of people you are interested in. Two guys developing the service graduated from Keio University, and they believe it can be used to encourage freshers to join a school club, because it can show them what kind of people the club consists of prior to joining it. The service is currently running in beta and available only among Keio students.
Frenzee is a social web app that allows you to discover new digital content. It helps you connect to someone having the same interest with you by choosing pictures that have been posted on the service. The following video helps you learn how it will work.
Satoshi has grown up in Nigeria and London and is currently attending the International Christian University in Tokyo. His app Wondershake is a location-based smartphone app that visualizes your inner taste and connect you with like-minded people around you in the real world. He plans to launch the service at the end of this month, not in Japan but in the US. A judge asked him why he would launch it in the US before Japan, and he answered he believed this app would fit the US market despite average Japanese are considered to be shy and it’s hard for them to make friends with someone else. His answer called a big laugh from an audience.
Finally, Joi proposed a toast to the successful event and expecting more entrepreneurial challenges to come. DJ Amiga started playing music to entertain the gathering crowd.