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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.

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.

Interesting graphics/animation tech July 31, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japan.

New start-up in Japan called Motion Portrait (incorporated just earlier this month), out of Sony’s R&D labs.

Their technology demo is the photo at top-right of the home page. More demos at the bottom of this page. More information here (PDF in English courtesy of MP’s distributor).

A quick and easy way to create avatars (not only from photos, works also with cartoons/anime, even with animals) which can express emotional expression, the company provides several potential uses in a B2C environment as well, targetting potential users such as on-line spectacles/glasses sites, cosmetics, hair products, etc.

Currently funded entirely by So-net Capital Partners.

Nintendo DS sales top 18 million July 20, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, games, IT, Japan, Mobile.
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The Sankei Shimbun reports that domestic sales of the Nintendo DS handheld gaming console has topped 18 million units.

That number translates to one DS for every 7 people. Of course, some of these DSes have been shipped overseas, due to the region-free nature of these devices. Global sales exceeded 40 million units in March, and this suggests there is potential for Nintendo to grow sales outside Japan if it can replicate the model of getting users outside the traditional gaming audience to buy the device.

Most of the DS commercials on TV feature titles which are not games in the traditional sense of the word. There is everything from e-books to brain training to language training to interactive cookbooks and more.

More than a year after the launch of the DS lite, many shops sellout as soon as they stock them. (The Wii is even harder to obtain. The PS3 on the otherhand is plentiful)

I can’t help but wonder if the $100 laptop approach is really a better option than getting Nintendo to supply something based on the DS. Better battery life and real portability.

It can also be used to teach people to actually write as well as type.

i-mode’s global expansion is faltering July 18, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, IT, Mobile, Overseas, technology.
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Reuters reports that both Telstra (Aus) and O2 (UK) are abandoning i-mode.

I guess this just highlights the difference between the mobile scene in Japan vs elsewhere.

I would like to point out that the following statement from an industry analyst:

 “In the i-mode business model, operators keep only a small amount of content revenue, making most of their money by charging for data network usage,” […] “But regular users of the Internet on mobiles will become increasingly dissatisfied with ‘having the meter running’ while they surf, and the trend is already moving in favour of flat-rate data tariffs.”

is misleading in that flat rate tarrifs are available with i-mode on DoCoMo, and as such the i-mode business model is not tied to a metered data service.

If the reports of the O2/Apple iPhone deal are correct, I would suggest that O2 is betting that users will embrace the “full” internet on the phone and make i-mode redundant.

I’m still not convinced that continously zooming and scrolling to read a page not optimized for a phone’s limited size is the best option for users….

The iPhone’s magic powers of memory recall July 9, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in IT, Mobile, technology.

This post originated as a comment to a post by Michael Parekh on his blog, but it got rather long so I decided to post here instead.

Apparently Michael and his wife have been having some problems with their iPhones, through which he became aware of the ability to auto-restore a dead iPhone (or its replacement) to the last known good configuration. He writes:

The only saving grace of the whole experience was that after re-activating the phone with AT&T via iTunes, I got a very welcome message in iTunes, asking if I’d like to automatically restore my wife’s phone, with all her data and settings.

Apparently, unbeknown-st to me, iTunes had made a backup of her phone (and presumably mine), and was able to fully restore her new iPhone to be a familiar clone of the old one in about 20 minutes. Including the personal picture she was using as her start page “wall-paper”.

That helped restore my shaken faith a bit in Apple’s newest baby.

So, I guess the unlimited data plan conveniently masks the fact that Apple is uploading data from your phone to their servers, apparently without the knowledge or explicit consent of the user.

[Update: Having thought about this a bit more, it is possible (read: I hope) that the data sync is just occuring between the iPhone and the iTunes software on the user’s PC. That would mean of course that users who don’t sync their iPhone to iTunes regularly will not be able to take advantage of the restoration functionality. On balance, I’d greatly prefer this alternative scenario (with its attendant “inconveniences”, given the implications of the original hypothesis. The scenario below which is based on server-side backup is, for me, rather uncomfortable, even as a law abiding citizen with no major skeletons in my closet. In any case, I think Apple would be well advised to clarify how they are doing this, especially as their chosen carrier partner is at&t – recall the at&t/Narus/NSA case.]

Handy indeed for the times your iPhone breaks, or when you drop it in the toilet, or it gets stolen, but I have to wonder what people would say if the same kind of “convenience feature” was executed by a Microsoft (or even Google these days) without explicit user approval. (I’m assuming that no such approval exists (or is buried in the small print), I don’t have an iPhone and haven’t read through the ULAs or other legal documentation.)

I wonder how aggressive the data backup is. Michael says “all [the] data” was backed up. There are things like the address book, sent/received emails (esp. those sent via WiFi), browser bookmarks, browser history (again, especially usage via WiFi), browser cookies (ditto), calendar entries, notes, which they would not have access to by just monitoring the at&t network.

Given a phone is a personal device making the user that much more identifiable, the privacy issues are worth consideration, I think.

Fastladder July 5, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japan.

Livedoor is attempting to go global with its new Fastladder RSS reader, which is basically a repackaged version of its existing Livedoor Reader for the local market.

It is basically a generic on-line feedreader. I noticed that OPML imports were slower than on some other on-line feedreaders I’ve imported my OPML files to in the past, perhaps because Fastladder doesn’t yet have much of a following yet and hasn’t got the relevant feeds cached.

Apart from the amusement factor of the uncomfortable English on show, the only slightly interesting point is that they show how many other Fastladder users have subscription to each of your subscribed feeds (social bookmarking of feeds).

Not sure there is enough here to make a huge impact on the already crowded landscape.

Event on May 17th – Marc Canter on Digital Lifestyle Aggregation May 7, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in blogosphere, Internet, IT.

I thought I had posted a notice about this on my blog previously, but apparently hadn’t so…

An Evening with Marc Canter

In May 2007, Marc Canter, ‘a well-known figure in the sphere of open standards, social networks and blogging’, will visit Japan. Take this opportunity to hear from Marc and mix and mingle with Tokyo’s international internet community.


Digital Lifestyle Aggregation: Portals 2.0 (DLAs)

As the worlds of social networking and blogging become more and more of a commodity, new ‘destination’ sites are arising which provide integrated, aggregated and highly customizable interfaces. These DLAs will bridge the world of PCs, with mobile, gaming and TV. Are they long awaited solution for convergence? What about the battle between the big boys (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, MySpace) and all the smaller players? Will there be any crumbs left on the table – for us?

And what will the global, distributed, decentralized mesh of inter-connected social networking and blogging platforms look like?


Marc Canter is a well-known figure in the sphere of open standards, social networks and blogging. Marc co-founded MacroMind in 1984 and began developing for the newly launched Apple Macintosh. MacroMind became Macromedia in 1991. He was part of the team that created the first multimedia player, the first cross-platform authoring system and the world’s leading multimedia platform. Marc was considered one of the founders of multimedia and has been a speaker, developer and evangelist in the industry for over a decade. Over the years Marc has also traveled worldwide, consulting to global corporations and has written on the multimedia industry and burgeoning world of micro-content publishing and social networking. He is the founder and CEO of Broadband Mechanics (broadbandmechanics.com) a digital lifestyle aggregator (DLA) company. Broadband Mechanics builds tools and environments to enable online communities. (Source: Wikipedia.org)

For Marc’s full profile see en.wikipedia.org…

DATE: 17 May 2007

TIME : 18:30 ’til late (Presentation from 19:00)

COST: 2,000 yen includes light finger food buffet. Drinks pay-as-you-go.

VENUE: The Pink Cow – Great food and drinks
Shibuya, Tokyo

Space is limited so RSVP is required, sign up here. (or send me an email. If you sign up directly, if you would say that you were directed to the event from this blog, it would be appreciated…)

Marc’s reputation precedes him, and I think this would be an extremely worthwhile event for anyone who is doing (or thinking of doing) anything in the area of internet services, with themes such as social networking and micropublishing becoming increasingly de facto features for current and next generation plays in this area.

I’m a vocal proponent of users owning their own data and having the right and ability to do as much with their data as is technically possible. Locking in users by creating technical hurdles to switching seems to be such an authoritarian and shortsighted way of doing things.

Marc appears to take a similar view on these important issues, and when I saw that he was going to be in Tokyo, I suggested that it would be interesting to get him to host an event. Many thanks to Andrew Shuttleworth for taking the initiative to organize the event, and Traci at the Pink Cow for hosting us as always.

I’m going to be there, and hope to see many others there too.