Yahoo! Messenger [J] To Shut Down

Yahoo! Japan announced [J] that it would terminate its messenger service “Yahoo! Messenger” at 3 p.m. on March 26, 2014.

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Yahoo! Messenger was one of the most popular messenger services for Japanese Internet users, competed against Skype and MSN Messenger. (MSN Messenger, aka Windows Live Messenger, was also stopped after Microsoft got Skype)

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Yahoo! Japan and U.S. Yahoo! are/were not the same company, used different account system. As a result of that, Yahoo! Messengers are also different between English and Japanese, which means English Yahoo! Messenger users could not chat with Japanese Yahoo! Messenger users, different from MSN Messenger and Skype.

Yahoo! Japan commented that the number of the active users is drastically decreasing recently, makes them difficult to maintain the service.

The end of the announcement page guided the users to migrate to three other communication services Yahoo! Japan provides, mobile messenger Kakao Talk (Yahoo! Japan jointly invested Kakako Talk Japan), free web mail Yahoo! Mail(which is again not the U.S. Yahoo! Mail) and recently released smartphone e-mail app Yahoo! Communication Mail.

The decreasing of the active users must be primarily by Line’s growth. mobile messenger service Line is taking 50 million domestic users.

Yahoo! Messenger [J] To Shut Down

Rakuten To Dissolve Lekutian In China, Joint-Mall With Baidu

Japan’s largest e-mall company Rakuten today announced [J] that they would shut down its Chinese e-mall Lekutian(rakuten.cn) planned in May, 2012.

Rakuten jointly established Lekutian with China’s search engine giant Baidu in January 2010, and began the mall in October 2010.

The reason is explained as Lekutian did not show the growth they had expected, which is because the environment of e-commerce in China has been becoming too competitive.

Rakuten To Shut Down 6 Million Users Zenryaku Profile

Nikkei reports [J] that Rakuten has decided to close its Zenryaku Profile, a social networking site having 6.4 million users and runs for about decade, even before the word “social networking service” established.

The site was originally run by other company, moved under Rakuten when it purchased a company who owned the service. Different from other Rakuten service which target adult consumers, Zenryaku Profile is a service mostly used by teenagers, to show who you are to their firstly-met friends. When you register, you will be asked about 60 questions to make your profile page, which was favored by non-net-savvy teenagers who did not like free text writings.

Nikkei wrote that the move was caused around Rakuten opposing DeNA’s pro-baseball team Yokohaba Bay Stars purchase deal on 12 owners meeting planned on December 1 (see my The Japan Times column today), as Rakuten objects DeNA as an inappropriate owner because it runs deai-kei(dating) and social game services. So Rakuten tries to clean itself up by shutting down its own social network service.

As we reported on the day before yesterday, Rakuten silently testing Rakuten Profile not for teenagers but for their shop-owners and customers.

See You, CU

Yahoo Japan's Logo

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Even Japan’s Web Colossus Yahoo! Japan can easily fail if trying to force real name to Japanese users. The social business networking service Yahoo! CU, which launched November 2008 is announced to cease on October 19th, before its first anniversary.

CU encourages users to register their real name and organization name which they belong, to expect to form a network useful for peoples’ business, like LinkedIn does in English countries. That was ambitious in Japan where people totally hide their identity (2 channel, NicoNico Douga) or use nickname and illustration/Avatar (Mixi, Gree, Mobage-Town).

According to CNET Japan, the number of registered users, all of whom were invited by other CU users (as it is invitation based), is only 6,500. It is so small as the whole Yahoo! Japan’s monthly unique browser is 200 million [J] (it is bigger than Japan’s population, but on person can use Yahoo! at office, home and on cellphone).

There have NEVER been a guide link from Yahoo!’s top page to CU. And I never noticed any substantial promotion were done by Yahoo! Japan. So the 6,500 might be just Yahoo! Japan employee in the CU team and their friends, who can be early adopters.

Yahoo! Japan also has another social network Yahoo! Days, which was renamed from Yahoo! 360°, originally started by US Yahoo.com. Yahoo! Days is more casual and supposed to compete against Mixi, but seems not successful, too.