twitter Japan launched … where?

Nikkei Shimbun wrote that twitter, Inc. (San Francisco, California) starts its Japanese localized version on 23rd (already today in Japan, JST = Japan Standard Time).

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Digital Garage has been working on this localization. Japanese tweets (messages on twitter) are gaining about 20 % of all twitter users, and its interface are expected to be translated for expanding to regular internet users.

This Japanese version is said to have advertisement from beginning, hoping to be profitable. This advertisement method is planned to be exported back to original English version, as the news said.

twitter’s Japan domain, http://twitter.jp/ is still showing “not found” error page then redirected to English version. We will report when we found it on.

[Updated] we’ve found it.

via Nikkei Net

See Also:

Twitter Japan dev team showed some plans

J-Pop news for the world: New service “Natalie”

Have you ever heard of Ayumi Hamazaki, Ai Otsuka, Gackt, Orange Range or SMAP? These people and bands are on the forefront of the Japanese music industry which is the second-biggest in the world, following the USA.

The advent of Japanese popular culture in the Western hemisphere is not restricted to manga, anime, movies and video games. More and more Non-Japanese people start listening to “J-Pop” (Japanese pop music), mostly teenagers and young adults – the majority of whom cannot even speak one word of Japanese. J-Pop is also very popular in South East Asia where some of the stars are even more popular than in this country.

J-Pop online news service “Natalie”

Up to now, online information and news about Japan’s music scene in English was scarce, scattered and outdated to say the least. Now, Tokyo-based web company Natasha decided to take its domestic music news platform Natalie on an international level.

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The English site is online for a couple of weeks now and not yet complete. Some sections are not fully translated yet.

The concept of Natalie is pretty straightforward, both in the Japanese and the English version: Provide fresh news about the J-Pop scene (about bands, singers, concerts, new CDs etc.) in a clear and organized fashion. I believe the majority of the news in the English version are “exclusive” and “first seen” on Natalie, at least in that language.

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What I found quite remarkable is the comment function (you can add a comment under each article). If you have a Twitter account, you can actually comment on a Natalie news item if you include its URL in your message. The system will automatically transform your twit into a comment on the site! A similar solution is offered with Japanese social bookmarking services Hatena and Livedoor.

There is also a Facebook application available in English.

Access via mobile phones, iPod Touch (the iPhone is not yet available in Japan), a Natalie widget and other features may be added for the international version in the future.

Currently, the company makes money with Google AdSense and Amazon affiliate links. However, as of now the latter method of generating revenue is missing on the English pages.

Opinion

I think the English service of Natalie has pretty good chances to be successful. Sure, the target group is not incredibly huge. However, it is certainly big enough to justify being catered with at least one reliable online source of information and news!

Also, Natalie has the advantage of being based in Japan which enables the service to be quick and direct in processing news about the country’s music scene. It will take time and effort to communicate the existence and benefit of the service to the target group though.

It’s always commendable if a Japanese web service is investing time, energy and capital to offer an English version to a global audience. This is especially true in the case of Natalie, a product related to J-Pop which can be regarded as an integral part of Japanese (pop) culture.

Twitter Japan dev team showed some plans

On the twitter Japanese localization news, newly-opened Twitter Japan development blog explains what items are on their task list on localization process.

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In their current plan,

  • They are making Japanese version on top of current (running) system.
  • Japanese users and world users belong to the same account space.
  • They do NOT make another Japanese version of twitter only with newcoming Japanese users.
  • There are NO filtered public timeline only with Japanese messages/users. Japanese users will see English messages, vise versa.
  • Both Japanese and original users/messages/following/followers/favorites are shown in mixed
  • Menu/Help/etc. will be translated. Translated Japanese will be available triggered by menu, or by accessing different URL

Also, they mentioned cellular phone browser improvement plan in other entry.

As far as I read them, what they are planning is only adding text localization feature to the original twitter, which should not be a lot of work, since Twitter is made by Ruby on Rails and Rails has built-in localization support. It is possible that continuous performance tuning on Twitter may remove the localization related codes and recovering them more difficult though.

twitter goes into Japan assisted by Digital Garage

Digital Garage Inc. announced its capital and business tie-up with Twitter inc..

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Digital Garage makes some disclosed amount of investment not more than 100,000,000yen(about $915,000), and also helps Twitter’s localization development in Japan. Digital Garage and Twitter will launch Japanese microblogging service for both PC and cellularphone browsers by this spring 2008.

# It is not told whether it is Twitter with Japanese UI, or another new service based on twitter technology.

Twitter founder Evan Williams revealed that they have 20% Japanese users in November.

Although Twitter does not have Japanese interface, it is holding the biggest user share among microblogging in Japan, leaving other followers far behind, which including Mogomogo, Wassr, Timelog, Haru, feecle.

Like YouTube got succeeded without Japanese menu, Twitter is going well because microblogging service does not require much English skills to use, as far as users are limited within early adapters. But to encourage wider users to join, Japanese menu localization is must.

Digital Garage incubates internet technology companies including Technorati Japan with Technorati. The company co-founded by Joi Ito.

[update 2008-01-20] official Twitter Blog mentioned about this news over a week later, then TechCrunch followed.

Twitter founder’s talk in Japan

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According to Nikkei IT-Pro, Evan Williams, co-founder of twitter had a talk session with Tim O’Reilly at Web2.0 Expo 2007 in Tokyo and told localization plan.

In the session, Williams disclosed that the 20% of twitter users are from Japan. He also said that localization to different languages is “the first priority task”, and that is being achieved by its API usage.