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Gree’s IPO and service outage December 20, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IPO, IT, Japan.

Gree, Japan’s #2 (and original) SNS had its IPO on Dec 17th, instantly valuing the company at an eye popping JPY110B ($1.2B), with PER of 170 and PBR of 104. This makes Gree worth more than the #1 SNS, Mixi, which is currently valued at $900M, which is trading at a PER of 43.

Gree has approx 7 million “users”, which puts it far behind Mixi which claimed it passed 15million in the summer. The interesting thing about Gree is that it is, for all intents and purposes, a mobile internet SNS, with more than 98% of page views from mobile devices, although it originally started as a PC service. Mixi has a more even split between PC and mobile, 33:67 according to the most recent published figures.

An interesting development occured yesterday, when Gree’s service went down after lunch.  Gree was very slow in releasing details of the outage, and there are claims on the internet that Gree investor relations initially claimed the outage was due to “maintenance”.

Sakura Internet, Gree’s datacenter provider, has announced that the problems were due to an electrical fire, but says the problems only affected one of the two redundant power lines. If this were true, it would appear that the users affected (which included not just Gree but also So-net’s blog service and Seesaa, another blog platform provider) have some deployment issues they need to take care of.

More interestingly, on page 17 of their IPO filing, Gree states that its “systems are distributed across multiple datacenters to ensure stable operations”.

It appears that yesterday’s outage was total and complete, as far as its gree.jp SNS service was concerned, which raises the question about its representations in the IPO filing.

Or maybe the reference to systems distributed  across multiple datacenters refers to the fact that its corporate website is housed in a different datacenter – gree.co.jp, the corporate website appeared unaffected during the time the gree.jp service was out, not that that is of any use to users who could not access the service……

Perhaps Gree will use the money raised in its IPO to move to a more reliable datacenter and reevaluate its system architecture….

Some additional thoughts on the SB/iPhone news June 4, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japan, Mobile, technology.

We can stop talking about 3G iPhone  “rumours”. Since SB (and all other Japanese carriers) no longer have legacy 2.xG networks which are actively adding users, a Japanese launch must be equated to 3G. 3G only or 3G+GSM, that is now the question.

Coming just one day after SB’s launch of their ’08 summer collection, one has to wonder what impact the news of iPhone’s launch at some time in the future will have on SB ’08 summer handset sales will be. Given that the two other major carriers have also begun marketing their ’08 summer models, the timing of this announcement could be seen as a spoiler tactic targetting users who might have been thinking of upgrading their phones on rival networks. Many of the upgraders this season will be upgrading into the newly introduced 2-year fixed term contracts for the first time, so this would appear to be a good time to tempt users to switch with a unique offering. IF the iPhone will be a pure SB offering, of course.

SB’s summer ’08 collection launch yesterday was notable for its focus on young women. Women are apparently underrepresented in SB’s customer base, and the announced handset lineup was heavy on models targeted towards women. This may offset the negative impact of the iPhone announcement, a quick strawpoll conducted around the office seemed to suggest that the iPhone will appeal more to techy, geeky young men. The fact that the iPhone form factor and capacitative touchscreen interface isn’t optimal for single handed use especially with long manicured nails counts against the iPhone in the Japanese F1 demographic, for sure. So, targeting women with their summer models and guys with the iPhone may be valid.

iPhone to be sold through Softbank Mobile in Japan June 4, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japan, Mobile, technology.

Softbank Mobile’s press release here.

No specifics on timing of launch, price, exclusivity, etc.

The phone hasn’t been through the JATE approval process yet, so it’ll be at least a couple of months before we see it in the shops, based on the usual timelag between JATE approval and products hitting the shelves.

Mixi revises ToU to exploit users March 4, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, Japan.

New (revised) Mixi Terms of Use have been announced as coming into effect on April 1st. (Mixi is of course Japan’s #1 SNS site with 10million+ users)

By agreeing to the ToU (which all users implicitly do by continuing to using the service):

1. Users grant Mixi a no-royalty, non-exclusive rights (of replication, broadcasting, public transmission, display, distribution, translation, alteration, etc) to any content uploaded onto Mixi servers.

2. Users agree not to assert their moral rights against Mixi. [Moral rights include the right of attribution, the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously, and the right to the integrity of the work. source:Wikipedia]

When the new ToU comes into effect, the terms will apply retroactively to content uploaded before the changes to the ToU.

What this means is that Mixi can take any content (not just diary or community posts but also private correspondance via the message feature), ignore any access controls which are in effect within Mixi and potentially profit from content created by users.

However, the responsibility for the content remains with the original content owner….

I wonder if the user community will revolt and cause Mixi to back down on this blatant attempt to exploit its user base. In any case, my Mixi account will be deleted by the end of March unless they reconsider this change to their ToU.

As a publicly traded company, you would think they’d think things through before they dropped a bomb like this which would alienate their users. I can see why Mixi wants to leverage (exploit, given the currently proposed terms) the potential of the user generated content created by its 10million+ community, but this seems to be a heavy handed and ill-thought out way to achieve it.

But I guess they are in good company. Gree (Japan’s #2 SNS)’s ToU isn’t much better in this area. Facebook’s ToU in this area is similarly dubious.

What part of “users should own their own data” don’t the SNS operator community not understand? Just imagine if ISPs or phone companies or the post office asserted similar rights….

Japanese video sharing site February 29, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Internet.

For those people who come to this blog via a search engine with Japanese YouTube as keywords, I guess I should point you out to Nico Nico Douga.

I don’t think I’ve posted about this before, mainly because I’m not big fans of the 2ch culture which pervades the site. (No coincidence, given the involvement of  Hiroyuki Nishimura)

Not a big fan of Dwango which operates the site either.

Anyway, there you have it, Japan’s most popular homegrown video sharing site, rife with the same blatant disregard for copyright but with an extra seasoning of 2ch otaku culture.

God only knows why the site garnered a “Good Design Award” in 2007, but then that Award was given out to over 1000 products and designs last year….. Other “highlights” of last year’s awards. Second Life. A Hermann Miller copycat office chair.

Twitter is currently broken February 28, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Internet.
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When I go to twitter.com, I get randomly signed in as someone else. Click on “logout”, and I can jump to another person’s page. and so on.

Someone has already landed on my page and added some juvenile comment. I only post to twitter via twitterfox, so stuff updated via the web page isn’t me, in case anyone was wondering.

Got to the settings page, and harvest lots of email addresses. Oh, this is F*cking great work, twitter….. NOT.

Blog widget for flickr users February 28, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT.
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The uber-geeks at Glucose have released a (free) pretty blog widget called flickrflow to display flickr photos on your blog. (I’ve sort of given up waiting for them to get their act together and embark on a more serious commercial effort this decade, but they are certainly technically talented)

As one might imagine, it is a slideshow app widget inspired by Apple’s Cover Flow.

It is pretty, but this isn’t a photo blog, and however hard I try, I can’t get into the habit of taking photos (though I still think I would prefer taking photos to having photos taken of me). But it might be of interest to people more into photography (if the widget doesn’t make a mess of the finely tuned (yeah, right) UI layout you’ve created for your blog).


Hopefully this post will mark a resurgence in posting, it’s been rather quiet of late.

Rakuten launches English language site (sort of) December 18, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, Internet, Japan.

Rakuten, Japan’s largest on-line shopping mall, has launched an English language service.

Sort of.

The top page has been translated, but that’s it. Not very useful, really.

Rakuten has previously announced that it is setting its sights on overseas expansion, and I guess this is the first tiny step in that direction.

But is this the right way to go about it? English language users might stumble upon the English site, and will quickly see that the rest of the site is not translated. And they will likely never return. First impressions count, and I feel this particular piecemeal approach will be counterproductive.I’m sure they’re currently dealing with the backend fulfilment and logistics issues, and they probably wanted to show some visible signs that they are indeed planning to target non-Japanese audiences. A cynic might say this is an IR play.

Mixi to join the OpenSocial bandwagon? November 2, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, Japan, Media, technology.

The Nikkei is reporting that Mixi, Japan’s largest SNS is jumping on the OpenSocial bandwagon.

No official announcement from either Mixi or Google as of noon on Friday Japan time, even though the MySpace announcement  also mentioned in the Nikkei article is the subject of a release from Google.

The Mixi tie-up, if it does materialize, would be an interesting development, given Mixi’s dominant position within the Japanese SNS scene.

Whilst I think opening up is great for users, and is the only way “also rans” can hope to compete with dominant players, it is interesting to see someone in the position that Mixi is in embracing the concept.

Google video ad on Zakzak September 11, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Internet.
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On this page at Zakzak, one of the internet properties owned by the Sankei newspaper/media group, Google are running video ads. There doesn’t seem to be much ad content, and most of the time it is running ads for its own iGoogle (and sometimes the space just displays the usual AdWords text advertising). It is the first time I’ve seen an iGoogle video ad.  Funny thing is, the clickthorough returns a 404 Not Found error. LOL.