Allatanys – Three Major Japanese Newspapers’ Online Challenge Silently Taken Down

Allatanys, an website where you may read headline news from three of Japan’s most published newspapers in parallel, run by Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun and Nikkei, has ceased yeasterday, February 29, 2012.

The site top shows a short text with background image which makes the text hard to read. The text tells, “Allatanys site has ended. Allatays, a site for compared-reading Nikkei/Asahi/Yomiuri, stopped its distribution at the end of February 2012. Thank you for your long-term reading. You may read the news on each company’s website.”. And three newspapers’ website are linked.

Yomiuri, Asahi and Nikkei are on top of the world’s most circulated newspaper ranking, Yomiuri #1, Asahi #2 and Nikkei #7.

Allatanys began on January 31, 2008. We covered its free iOS app release on February 2009.

On Facebook, these three had opened Allatanys page, where students are running discussion place under the three newspaper names. This Facebook page will remain with Allatanys brand.

There are no related news around this termination found on Google News so far.

Report: Amazon To Bring Kindle To Japan In April

Business daily The Nikkei says it learned that Amazon Japan, the country’s second-biggest e-commerce company, is planning to finally offer its e-book reader Kindle to Japanese customers.

According to the paper, Amazon is expected to launch Kindle devices in April this year “for less than 20,000 yen” (US$257). Apparently, the Kindle Touch will be positioned as the flagship model, while there is no word on how or if the Kindle Fire will be introduced, too.

For the 3G connection, Amazon has chosen mobile carrier NTT Docomo as its partner. Just like in other markets, Japanese Kindle owners will be able to download books over 3G for free, provided they decide to go for Kindles offering both 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Rumors about Amazon Japan entering the domestic e-book market have been circulating for a long time. In November/December 2011, for example, The Nikkei speculated that the company was ready to start offering e-books by the end of 2011 (which obviously didn’t happen).

In an interview with the paper from November 2011, Yoshinobu Noma, president of major publisher Kodansha, said that he estimates Japan’s e-book market to be worth 65 billion yen (US$837 million). Noma also said that 90% of sales in this segment come from content distributed to cell phones – a number that will surely change when the Kindle becomes a hit in Japan, too.

In Japan, the Amazon device will go head-to-head with other e-readers and tablet hybrids like Sharp’s Galapagos, Sony’s E-Reader, Toshiba’s BookPlace, Panasonic’s Raboo, or Fujitsu’s Flepia.

Gree CEO Talks To National Paper Readers By A Full-Page Ad

December 8 morning, Japanese major newspapers like Yomiuri, Asahi and Nikkei, sum of the number of their print will be around 20 million issues every morning, had a full-page ad almost only with text, which is by Gree CEO Yoshikazu Tanaka.

The text is also publicized on Gree’s company page [J]. It has about 4,000 Japanese letters.

The text titled with “Making the world a better place through the power of the Internet”(English translation of which is not on the web page but was on the newspapers) is a style which Tanaka tells you by himself, starting with his memory on his youth that Japan started suffering long time economic standstill, how the Internet and Silicon Valley culture (like Netscape and Yahoo!) business and working style attracted him, how those companies from the Valley had changed the world.

The latter half is his talk how Gree began as his personal hobby after his daytime job (at early days in Rakuten, FYI), had many difficult time, how other people did not valued his and his teams challenges.

He ends the text that the only people who never give up and keep challenging have been changing the world, and (he and Gree) by learning that history, want to keep contributing society, “Making the world a better place through the power of the Internet”,

Many of those readers of major newspapers may be the farthest people who play and purchase virtual items on Gree. But they are the people who run business in regular Japanese enterprises. There are critics from traditional business that the social game companies are exploiting users as their sales and profits are soaring. By this he seems to try to impress people that Gree is just another company who serves society.

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.

Groupon Japan’s Osechigate Still Smoldering

The poor traditional holiday food (osechi) delivery happened on New Year’s day around Groupon Japan, followed by media bash then Groupon world CEO’s sincere but delayed video apology 17 days later, must affected somewhat on their Japanese penetration and pitching daily deal business itself.

Even though a month passed, media rushing on this issue has not ceased. On Friday 3rd, Japanese economic newspaper Nikkei’s online released 6 pages, intensively researched long article that explains from what this coupon service is, to osechi and several other problems happening [J]. I have never seen other news which dug down such deep on this topic.

Nikkei pointed out that too-pushy sales caused the troubles, and it is needed to check if only coupon services get fruit against shops and consumers. They also covered a shop owner who ought to sell and cancel thousands of coupons by following Groupon sales’ insufficient explanation, needed to sign on an agreement that he would never tell about it, if he wants to cancel.

Then, Saturday night, national public TV NHK broadcasted 24 minutes documentary, “Kyukakudai! Gekiyasu Ku-pon Saito”(Booming! Heavily-discounted coupon sites) in their weekly program Tsuiseki(Chasing) A to Z.

The program began with explaining what coupon service is as well. NHK interviews some of service providers and let them talk how much it reduces marketing cost with getting social buzz, however, the tone of the program were negative overall, at least web users felt so (from Tweets and 2-channel board

NHK aired the closed Bird Cafe, the osechi vendor. Then they introduced shop-side anecdotes. A hamburger shop in Nagoya, who claims to be forced by sales persons to issue 2,622 tickets, with the price below the cost and they can only serve 30 set per day. The shop served 700 in 2 month but resulted in cancelling the rest. Another Izakaya (Japanese food bar) shopkeeper told that a sales person posted photos of dish which were not theirs (taken from somewhere).

Nikkei and NHK are the ones of the most trusted news sources in Japan, especially by mid-to-old generations. Those people might know the coupon business and its bad reputations at the same time by these.

On the web, someone made a half sized figure of the Bird Cafe’s poor osechi set,

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

and the osechi T-shirt is sold, too.