Report: Asiajin Meeting #1 (part one)

The Asiajin Meeting #1 took place this Tuesday in Akasaka/Tokyo. Courtesy of Cybozu Labs, the event was free of charge.
Asiajin Meeting Tokyo #1 signboard
About 30 people participated while the number of people viewing the live broadcasting (done by Andrew Shuttleworth) peaked at 25. We will see to it that we announce the livecast earlier next time, especially for our readers from outside Japan. Also we apologize we had to turn down a lot of Asiajin readers interested in joining due to limited capacity.
A total of seven entrepreneurs, journalists and engineers held presentations. One person cancelled because of illness. All of the Japanese presenters spoke in English sharing the meeting’s underlying concept of intercultural communication.

We at Asiajin think they all did amazingly well so we can say the Asiajin Meeting #1 was a great success!
Part one of this report focuses on the first three presentations:

Presentation No. 1
(“Who will be the target consumers in the Japanese mobile content market?”)

The presenter would like to stay anonymous. She spoke about mobile content services in Japan, user demographics and how consumers in this country prefer the mobile phone over the PC. The presentation was very interesting but is unfortunately off-the-record.

Presentation No. 2
(“Natalie – English version”)

Masahiko Tachizono, director at Natasha,Inc., attended to introduce his company’s Natalie service. Essentially, “Natalie” is a J-Pop news service. Masahiko said between 20 to 30 fresh articles from the J-Pop world are put online everyday.
Readers are able to customize the service so that they view news items suitable to their tastes.
Natalie also connects with Twitter (which is very popular in Japan). When a user twitters a comment on a Natalie news article, the service retrieves the message and adds it as a comment on the web site if it includes the corresponding URL. Natalie offers a similar solution with the Japanese social bookmarking platform Hatena. I think this is a very clever idea!
There is also a mobile version available. Moreover, Natalie offers a widget for bloggers. A Facebook application and even an optimized version for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch are also planned.
After his presentation, Masahiko told me the English version of Natalie for J-Pop fans outside Japan will be available soon.

Presentation No. 3
(“Project 1,000 speakers”)

amachang, a well respected JavaScript specialist working for Cybozu Labs spoke about a private project of his, named 1,000 speakers (Ustream channel). I agree with his statement that a lot of (not all) Japanese IT professionals are too shy and modest to present themselves to other people if they can’t remain anonymous.
This observation was amachang’s main motivation to hold a monthly conference which he labelled “1,000 speakers”. His aim is to have 1,000 people present their work and discuss openly until the project is finished. This is a really great idea!
amachang said speaking publicly helps young developers in particular to raise awareness of their work and improve their visibility in Japan’s huge IT community.

Please read the second part of the Asiajin Meeting #1 report for coverage of the remaining presentations and a conclusion.


  1. A shame presentation 1 is anonymous, would be very interesting to understand users preference for mobile Internet. An interesting feature of the wireline net is slowing growth and for such advanced services (10 million ftth, fast DSL and cable) overall penetration is not high. Kind if unusual that there isn’t greater demand for the world’s fastest and cheapest (cost/mbps) broadband. Seems many really do prefer to use their mobiles.
    Suppose the question I want to ask is why? Why are people satisfied with the experience they get from smaller screens, lack of keyboard etc. (is it immediacy, intimacy and that the mobile allows you become part of the community rather than needing to present their own identity? Another presented made that observation.)

  2. Adam,
    I am the only European editor at Asiajin and I also was puzzled first regarding the dominance of the mobile web here in Japan.
    In my view the main reasons for this situation are:
    – users can access the Internet via mobile devices from virtually everywhere
    – DoCoMo did a fantastic Marketing job at the turn of the century promoting their imode service
    – many mobile services cannot be used by wireline net users (exclusivity)
    – especially in metropolitan areas, Japanese people can browse the web during commuting between their houses and workplaces
    – low costs of mobile web access (compared to Western countries at least)

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