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.

“Metabirds,” An Alter-Ego SNS Service For Internet Residents Begins

Metabirds Co. [J] has begun an alias based SNS on “metabirds,” [J] a portal for internet denizens.

“Metabirds” is a social network for using an “alter ego,” not just a real name or anonymity.  The concept is to express your alias identity “nicknames,” and “screen names,” as your own personal “sub character,” and this social network is for those who want to intermingle with “sub character” comrades.  On this service, continuing from the predecessor virtual society oriented portal “metabirds,” will be the following features:

– Blog function
– Miniblog (tweet) function
– Love (for websites and favorite digital contents, other places on top of the net, registering people, “Like,” “Check in” etc. synthesis) function
– Follow function
– Timeline indication as well as Twitter/Facebook integration function
– Level up in response to activity, badge allowance function
– Smartphone optimization function
– English user interface offered

As for the business model, in addition to establishing a developer-user paid plan and a free plan, they will strengthen notice functions, and continue to offer various revenue oriented activities.  From here on, their plan is to open up badge functions for developers and offer application programming interfaces.

Translation authorized by VSMedia

Social Platform GREE Expands To 130 Million Users

GREE [J] has announced that their mobile device social platform in August has exceeded 130 million users worldwide, achieving 107 million users outside of Japan.

The number of GREE’s users is a total of the Japanese “GREE,” combined with the social game platform primarily developed for America, Europe, and China, “OpenFeint,” whose user number has been expanding by 2.8 people per second and has reached 107 million in August.  GREE’s user number at the end of June was 26.41 million users, and has expanded up to collectively 130 million users in the world.

GREE aims to be the web service with the greatest number of users in the world, driving global expansion as a social platform specialist offering social games with killer contents.

Original article on VSMedia [J]

Toyota’s Marketing Arm To Hold Social App Contest And Cheer Motor Industry

(photo by Chiho Komoriya)

Toyota Marketing Japan(TMJ)[J], a 100% subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, announced it would have a contest on ideas of new apps integrating social network platforms which especially intend to make people interested in motor vehicles, in association with NHN Japan, GREE, DeNA, Mixi and Yahoo.  Presidents of those companies will serve as the judges of the contest.

The contest, Toyota Social App Award, accepts the ideas of new apps for PCs, featurephone and smartphone handsets. However, no stand-alone apps nor console games are allowed.  All applications are due April 28.   Award results will be announced in late May.  A million yen will be presented to the top award winner.

Mr. Hiroshi Takada, the president of TMJ, says, “Young people started getting less interested in motor vehicles ten years ago, but we couldn’t stop it.  Social apps can attract people by connecting them online. We expect the apps help people share the joy of motor vehicles. We are working in the motor industry, which prevents us from inventing something new transcending our imagination. We’re looking forward to great ideas from everyone.  We hope this contest may contribute to bringing good trends to motor, game and social app industries.”

Via: CNET Japan[J]

Mixi Partners With Renren and CyWorld – 3 Asian Major Social Networks Cooperate

Japanese Facebook Mixi announced [J] today that they are shaking hands with China’s huge social networking service Renren [Chinese] and Korea’s massive social networking service CyWorld [Korean].

The initial project among the three is to standardize their social application platform, which enables third-party social application providers (SAP, Mixi calls) to run their applications over three social networks. Mixi is also thinking to make common basement for another social APIs.

The release notes that this alliance is talking with other major social networkings in other regions, like Europe and America.

Renren’s company Oak Pacific Interactive does not post any news on this alliance yet. Neither does CyWorld company SK Communications [Kr].

Locals versus Facebook?

As seen on the World Map of Social Networks, China, Japan and Korea are few markets where Facebook could not penetrate into.

Facebook in Japan is far behind from major three local networks. However, all those Japanese social networks have a problem that they are hitting the ceiling of Japanese market, and working on oversea projects.

This time’s announce does not include much substantial things. And it is unlikely that the alliance can become the single interconnected Asian social networks in future. But those local major players must be feeling pressure by Facebook.