AllAbout Launches Non-Japanese AllAbout Japan for Foreign Visitors

AllAbout Inc., AllAbout Inc., a Japanese company which originally started as a joint-venture between Recruit and US About.com, running All About in Japanese, announced today [J] September 29th that its multi language sites AllAbout Japan, initially with English.

allabout-japan-top

According to the release, the site will have original articles by 500 Japan expert foreign writers, who both live in and outside Japan. The site is planned to get Chinese, Korean and Thai localization.

AllAbout Inc. is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange JASDAQ market. Major shareholders are the largest printing company Dai Nippon Printing(DNP), Recruit Holdings and Yahoo! Japan.

allabout-top

DNP Develops DC-Code, Invisible QR-Code Alternative

Dai Nippon Printing(DNP), the world’s largest printing firm released a free Android app which works with DC Code, which is like popular 2D barcode “QR code” but invisible.

The app instruction is like this,

(1) download app by searching “QUEMA” on Android Market
(2) run the app
(3) hold up your Android over the printings which have digital watermark
(4) related contents (video for example) will be played from your code

DNP named the system using DC Code and smratphone reader app as QUEMA(QUick and Easy Media Access).

Agreed that QR Codes on posters and magazines take some spaces, and that may be annoying for people who do not use QR Code. However, if it is invisible how can people notice that the code is there? Actually, touch-less radio-communication system like NFC has the same problem when you try to use it like QR Code.

via Markezine

Young American Serial Entrepreneur Faces Harsh Criticism Over Free-By-Ads WiFi Service Privacy Issue

Kristopher Tate is an American-born serial entrepreneur who had appeared many times on TechCrunch by his photo-sharing start up Zooomr founded at his age of 17.

TechCrunch’s database had not tracked him later but he migrated to Tokyo with Zooomr with seeing more possibility in Japan and Japanese web in 2007, has been actively developing several services,

  • Keireki.jp [J] – business social networking service aimed at Japanese LinkedIn counterpart
  • am6 [J] – service adds a toolbar with social tools on your websites
  • Zenback [J] – blog widget provides Zemanta-like recommendation and social media parts, developed for Six Apart (TypePad and Movable Type company which is now Japan-based)

His latest product is ConnectFree [J], which offers free WiFi access points around the nation in exchange of displaying toolbar with ads. As Japan is known with comparatively poor WiFi environment because of widespread use of 3G data connection service, it sounds a good idea to add more free WiFi spots all around the nation with good incentive to shops and advertisers.

Tate leads the company ConnectFree as a CEO and Chief Development Officer and on October 26, the company made a big partnership [J] with Japan’s (and the world’s) largest printing company Dai Nippon Printing(DNP) to promote a WiFi system which enables to shops to offer free WiFi spot by inserting ConnectFree toolbar on user browsing pages.

However, calamity for them (or bless for consumers) began at night December 5, when a notable security researcher Hiromitsu Takagi appeared on a shop which serves ConnectFree WiFi and a good-looking case-study on the service site. With praising the dish, Takagi demonstrated and tweeted to his security-aware 11K followers how ConnectFree modified the original HTML codes of whatever websites you are browsing, with explaining that it collects and sends users MAC address, Twitter account name, Facebook account name to the ConnectFree server. It also replaced Amazon associate program links all with ConnectFree’s ID (which is not allowed by Amazon’s terms of use) and tracked accesses by ConnectFree’s Google Analytics account.

On a popular tweets curating service Togetter, Takagi’s and related tweets are summarized [J]. Takagi started tweets at 9:21 p.m. and he said he got a phone call at 12:50 a.m. from “ConnectFree president”, who must be Tate and according to tweets they talked over the phone about nearly an hour. At that point, Takagi’s tweets got great attentions on Japanese Twittersphere.

A half day later, 6th afternoon, the company issued an apology release [J] with its stopped all of MAC/Twitter/Facebook/Amazon/Google-Analytics manipulation. The release said that it collected those data but never used or handed them over to the third-parties. About Amazon affiliate modification, it told that it was experiment only at one shop (where Takagi ate at the night?), but after the release, some others reported on Twitter that they salvaged JavaScript file from their browser cache when they used ConnectFree about a month ago the Amazon-related code were there at other shops.


(Tate’s apology on his personal Twitter account)

After Asahi [J], Yomiuri [J], many more followers and Yahoo! Japan News [J] reported it, the word “ConnectFree” (in Japanese katakana notation) was ranked on the top 10 of trending words both on Twitter and Google today December 7.

According to Twitter users, ConnectFree’s company profile page [J] was observed to delete(“All except CEO disappeared”) and resume(“Some boards are back now”) some executives today.

DNP also announced immediate shut-down of ConnectFree WiFi services at its affiliating shops. Although I do not know how deep those other people were explained and understood what Tate was trying to do both in technically and ethically, the attitude of adults around the young foreign challenger is not so admirable.

[Update 2011-12-13]

Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported it on its national news [J, movie on the linked page].

According to NHK, ConnectFree system was served at about 40 restaurants and hotels in greater Tokyo and Kwansai area. Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications(MIC) heard from ConnectFree as it could violate a law of Telecommunications Business Act(Denki Tsuushin Jigyou-hou, 電気通信事業法) which orders to keep privacy of communications.

DNP Releases “Beard Simulation” Windows Phone App. “Mote♥Hige”

Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. [J], one of the nation’s and the world’s largest printing companies, listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange First Section (code:7912), has released the Windows Phone “beard simulation” application “Mote♥Hige” (have a beard), where you can easily grow a beard onto a photographic portrait.  Download is free [J].

“Mote♥Hige” is a simulator application that can easily grow beards just by reading portrait photos from your camera album.  It uses the Increment Company’s face recognition API detectFace();, and it combines 6 types of beard with your photo portrait and allows you to adjust the “growth condition.”  In addition it also supports saving bearded photos into your album or posting them on Facebook.

Translation authorized by VSMedia

NTT DoCoMo And DNP To Start E-Book Delivery Service This Fall

Japan’s biggest mobile operator NTT DoCoMo and major printing company Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) announced they would jointly start an e-book delivery service intended for feature phones, smartphones and tablet terminals this fall.  The two companies will arrange the entire process of the e-book delivery service including content collecting, online book store management and overseas distribution.

More than 100,000 books and newspapers will be available at the service release.   It is expected to be operating in cooperation with DNP’s other book sales channels such as several large-scale real bookstore chains and online bookstore BK1[J] owned by the printing company.   Publishing giants like Kodansha and Shogakkan, NEC, LG Electronics Japan, Korea’s Samsung Electronics have been supporting the new service’s launch.

Meanwhile, as movements of NTT DoCoMo’s competitors in business, KDDI is preparing for a similar service in association with Toppan Printing, Sony and the Asahi Shimbun(see this for more details).  Softbank Mobile started an online magazine delivery service called Viewn(see this Akky’s story for more details) for the iPad and the iPhone users.