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Mixi IPO day 2 review (and my latest swipe at TechCrunch) September 15, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IPO, IT, Japan, TechCrunch.
5 comments

After posting a price of JPY2.95M at the beginning of the day and dipping as low as JPY2.56M in the early afternoon, the stock rallied to close at JPY3.12M, which translates to a valuation of JPY219B, just shy of $2B. Trading volume was 10,203 shares.

With approx 25% of shares held by VCs who aren’t subject to lock-up, it is certainly likely that there won’t be any supply side problems. It’ll be interesting to see if the 2 VCs offloaded a substantial portion of their holdings today.

Given this is the world’s first SNS IPO, and probably the biggest “Web2.0” exit thus far, it is surprising that TechCrunch haven’t felt this is a matter worth covering. You’d think that with their “Japanese Editorial Team”, they would have their finger on the pulse…..

Yes, this is my latest dig at TechCrunch regarding their reticence about giving us more details about TechCrunch Japanese, especially since they have not replied to my two emails. Maybe the problem is that I actually wrote to editor-jp@techcrunch.com in Japanese…. Maybe I’ll be bothered one of these days to redraft the letter in english and send it to Michael Arrington directly. Perhaps he is actually unaware of the fact that such an inquiry has been lodged with the “Japanese Editorial Team”. But then again, Gen Kanai did say his comment on TechCrunch regarding this issue was deleted…. Not the way I would have expected a self-proclaimed “Web2.0” blog media outfit to have handled this situation…..
Anyway, for those that read Japanese, here’s the original email I sent out…..

TechCrunch日本語版編集部殿、

はじめまして、TechCrunch及びTechCrunch日本語版の一読者の福重と申します。

いくつか質問がありますので、ご回答頂ければと思います。

1.TechCrunch日本語版編集部について

TechCrunch日本語版も開始から早二ヶ月以上が経ちました。

日本語版開始当時にMichael Arringtonに「TechCrunch本家や仏語版は記事の作者や翻訳者が明記されているのに、日本語版では翻訳・編集に関わっているメンバーの顔が見れず、Web2.0を題材にし、さらにブログフォーマットのメディアとしては違和感を覚えるが、どのように考えるか」と質問した経緯があります。その際、Arrington氏は立ち上げで多忙だが、いずれこの点に関しては対処するとの回答を頂きました。( Arrington氏曰く:”I totally agree that the “team” needs to be announced and hopefully it will soon. Let us just take our first steps.”)

しかしながら、既に何の変化も無く、2ヶ月以上経過しております。

先日英国版が発表されましたが、

本家では:

“TechCrunch UK is obviously not a translated blog like TechCrunch France and TechCrunch Japan (although both of these blogs have lots of original content as well).”

となっているものが日本語版では:

“TechCrunch UKはTechCrunch France TechCrunch 日本語版のようなTechCrunchの翻訳サイトとは明らかに異なるもの。”

となっています。

(TechCrunch(仏)は夏季休暇中ので該当記事が未掲載)

括弧内の文章を削除する編集行為は文章全体の意味合いを変えるものであり、単純な翻訳作業を大きく超えています。単純な翻訳作業だけでなく、編集作業を手掛けている現状を踏まえると、日本語版編集者の顔を見せることにより強い必要性を感じます。

・日本語版チームの発表が出来ない理由が何かあるのでしょうか?

・今後日本語版の編集に関わっているメンバーの紹介を行う予定はあるのでしょうか?

そもそも、日本語版には”lots of original content”があるのでしょうか。日本語版を読めない英語版読者向けの誇大広告のように映ってしまいます。(これは日本語版編集チームの問題ではありませんが)

ちなみに、日本語編集者の匿名性に関して知人がTechCrunch(US)へ書き込みましたが、このコメントも削除されましたので、この度公開質問状としてメールで送付すると同時に小生のブログにて公開させて頂きます。ご返信の際は、返信内容を公開されたくないようでしたらその旨明記願います。

2.TechCrunch日本語版の今後の活動内容について

Web2.0分野では日本でも動きが活発です。独自コンテンツの作成を通して日本の技術力を世界へ発信するメディアとしてTechCrunchネットワークは絶好のポジショニングを確立していると思っており、ご活躍を期待しています。

現時点では海外版の記事の単純翻訳(+一言コメント、これも多くは日本ユーザ向けと言うよりは業界に詳しくない人向けの補足情報のレベルと見受ける)だけと断定せざるを得ませんが、日本独自の観点からの追加取材、検証等を行い、日本のユーザやデベロッパーにより意味のある記事を期待したい。(例えば米国では先進的なサービスと紹介された場合、果たして日本でも前例の無いサービスなのかなどの追加情報があると便利であり、これらの情報は原文へフィードバックして反映されることにより、原文記事もより質の高い物になる。また、記事内には類似サービスが挙げられている場合も、日本版では国内サービスも列挙されてもいいと思う)

・日本語版独自コンテンツの作成や上記のような追加取材・検証のご予定はありますでしょうか?
(事業戦略上、公に出来ない事柄もあろうかと察しますが、教えていただける範囲内でなんらかのコメントを頂ければと思います)

重ねて申し上げますが、TechCrunch(含む日本語版)にはWeb2.0業界の中核的なメディアの役割を期待しています。ブログもWeb2.0も根底には共通する「会話」という基本要素が存在します。まずはその精神に則って、編集作業に携わっている皆様のご紹介をお待ちしております。

また、文中の他の質問へのご回答も合わせてお待ちしています。

I really don’t have anything against TechCrunch, honestly. They provide a valuable service to the community of users who are interested in the whole “Web2.0” phenomenon/trend/revolution/fad/bubble/whatever. However I happen to think that it seems to be such a waste to have a Japanese team and then not cover what is what would be a pretty big deal for “Web2.0” (if social networking is “Web2.0”, and I think the consensus is that it is) if there was an SNS IPO (or billion dollar exit of any nature in the Web2.0 arena) in the US.

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TechCrunch UK launched….. August 25, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in TechCrunch.
6 comments

And the TechCrunch network expands further….

TechCrunch UK is explained thus:

TechCrunch UK is obviously not a translated blog like TechCrunch France and TechCrunch Japan (although both of these blogs have lots of original content as well)

TechCrunch Japan has a lot of original content?

That certainly is news to me…..

Maybe my feed doesn’t allow me access to that content. Am I persona non grata chez TechCrunch for pointing out the obvious and asking for more disclosure? 🙂 (see my previous posts 1,2,3)

Michael Arrington did respond to my first post, but I don’t see any changes on TechCrunch Japanese.

They haven’t even gotten round to disclosing who the “Japanese Editorial Team” is (are?)….. <hint, hint…>
TechCrunch Japanese is more than 2 months on, that seems like plenty of time to address the issues raised. The TechCrunch empire is probably too busy expanding into gadget blogs (and what really is the difference between CrunchGear and Engadget or Gizmodo? At least TechCrunch was a novel concept when it launched) and recruitments sites to monetize the TechCrunch brand.

Human powered search August 15, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japanese, TechCrunch, technology.
3 comments

Techcrunch had an article about question and answer services yesterday. (the article was actually about the Israeli service called Yedda)

In the article, it lists other players in the same sector like Yahoo Answers, Wondir, Google Answers and Oyogi. Which is all well and good, I’m sure Techcrunch readers are always keen on hearing about the latest products and ideas.

However.

Given that they have a “Japanese Editorial Team” and publish the content in Japanese (the article above is available in Japanese here), I wonder if they can’t start actually editing the article at least in the Japanese version to reflect the fact that there are domestic human powered search services in Japan too. Actually, I think overseas readers (and entrepreneurs) would be very interested to see what goes on here.
Indeed, there is a company which has had an IPO on the back of their human powered search service (and its expansion into servicing FAQ type pages for corporate clients, which is along the same technical lines). The company is called OKWave and IPO’d in June of this year (admittedly on the relatively minor Nagoya Stock Exchange’s Centrex emerging markets exchange), and is currently valued at a little over JPY8Billion. It’s done more than 9.5 million Q&As and has more than half a million registered users. Just in Japanese. OK, so listing requirements are less strict here compared to NASDAQ, but if you want to see some non-Google/MSFT/Yahoo/Amazon/Ebay/Fox exit models for “Web 2.0” businesses (or even more mundane internet businesses like advertising, SEO, or on-line vertical B2B marketplaces – all of which have seen IPOs in the current year. And we have the SNS IPO coming next month), Japan is not a bad place to start.

Then there is hatena, another interesting company which offers very “Web2.0”-y applications including human powered search, a social bookmarking service, blog hosting and much more besides (they have a portfolio of 13 different web based services, and the company has less than two dozen employees – this company is about as close to the SV IT startup model as you might find in Japan). They even set up an office in SV last month (press release) which I think was an excuse for the CEO to see how things work on the ground across the pond. 🙂

Yahoo! Japan also has a Q&A service, but that is lagging behind with less than 90,000 queries posted.

Going back to my bitching about lack of exposure of Japanese businesses (short of Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Sony, Matsushita, Canon, Sharp and the rest of the multi-billion dollar set), Business 2.0 had a piece about global Web2.0 sites. The number of Japanese Web2.0 sites profiled? Zero.

Of course, part of the problem is that most Japanese services are just in Japanese. Yes, it is in no small part due to the language barrier as well. I’d also say that many of the entrepreneurs are less marketing and promotion savvy here, compared to the US. We aren’t doing a good enough job of telling the world what our small innovative companies are up to.

I would plead guilty as charged on that count, I am pretty conservative about profiling Japanese companies, especially in the internet sector, mainly because they are all too often rip-offs of US/overseas ideas. However, if they can take a clone and make a business out of it, they deserve credit, IMO. Of course, if an overseas business can ramp quickly and internationalize and localize with sufficient speed, and take advantage of network scaling effects, clones should no chance. But the reality is that different markets sometimes have differing needs, and building a truely universal product is often an elusive task.

TechCrunch Japanese, one month on July 25, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, Japan, Media, TechCrunch.
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Following up from my post in June, I think a month is ample time for an organisation to get their act together.

So, where does TechCrunch Japanese stand, one month on?

The “Japanese editorial team” remains as anonymous as ever. And I do think this is a big deal.
Having seen more translated content, I have to say that I feel that more and more translation errors are becoming apparent. Or is it meant to be a liberal translation? Do the Japanese editors have free rein to modify the meaning of the text? The policy remains unclear. (My gut tells me most of the translation issues are errors, rather than conscious editing)

Also, I don’t like the writing style. It may just be personal preference, but I find that Japanese is not conducive to writing about “hard” subjects in a chatty conversational tone. I understand the whole bit about “blogs are meant to be about conversations” and all that, but stylistically I find the clash between the subject matter and writing style uncomfortable.

I don’t think that there is a fundamental problem with using english language original content to produce derivative Japanese content, outlets like CNET Japan appear to do it satisfactorily.

TechCrunch日本版 June 20, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT, Japanese, TechCrunch.
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日本語版TechCrunchが始動したようです。

ご存知TechCrunchはMichael Arringtonが主催するWeb2.0ブログ。数ヶ月前からはフランス語版もあり、こちらはフランスで有数の人気を誇るブログに成長しているとか。

TechCrunch(US)の記事の翻訳だけでなく、日本のWeb2.0の話題も取り上げる予定とか。( さらにこれが本家でも発信される可能性があるらしい)

TechCrunch現象と称されるサイトへのアクセス集中は諸刃の刃になりかねないが、取り上げてもらえれば宣伝効果は絶大。素直な感想が多く、駄目な物は駄目と意見を主張するところは不評なサービスには致命的な影響を及ぼす可能性は否めませんが。

翻訳は、まぁ、いいでしょう。

それより気になるのは、日本語版は匿名の「日本語版編集部」の名で発行されているところ。本家やフランス語版はちゃんと個人名を名乗っているのに。

大目に見て翻訳だけなら許されると考えてあげてもいいかもしてないが(それでも原文と翻訳の乖離が目立った場合、どうかと)、日本発の情報配信する場合はまずいのでは。

 その点はあまり感心できない。改善を期待しよう。

利害関係などのディスクロージャーはこの手の情報発信には必須であると考える。 

それこそWeb2.0的である「ソーシャル」、ブログの特徴である「対話性」が確保されるのではないか。 

Techcrunch Japan launched June 20, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT, Japan, Japanese, TechCrunch.
5 comments

Michael Arrington of Techcrunch has announced the launch of Techcrunch Japan.

(The RSS feed is http://jp.techcrunch.com/feed/)

There were clues on Techcrunch that this was in the works, with trackbacks on Techcrunch posts from jp.techcrunch.com with  snippets of Japanese text being displayed. (although the links returned error messages at that time before the official launch of the Japanese page)

One big thing I have noticed which differentiates between Techcrunch (and for that matter, Techcrunch France) and Techcrunch Japan is the anonymous nature of the individual(s) behind Techcrunch Japan, who is/(or more likely in the plural) are hidden behind the Japanese site. They have announced that they will be creating original content as well, not just translating stuff written by Messers Arrington and Kirkpatrick, and Monsieur Ohayon. If the Japanese editorial "team" is going to be authoring content, shouldn't the Japanese writers also be identified?

Techcrunch is meant to be about "Web2.0" which I believe emphasises a social component if I am not mistaken, and blogging is meant to be about conversations.

Whilst a recent Japanese survey found that more than 90% of Japanese bloggers are anonymous, I don't think that is really a reason (excuse) for Techcrunch Japan to post anonymously, given their position within the blogosphere.

Anonymous bloggers blogging about anything remotely related to money or business aren't really my cup of tea. YMMV.

Disclosure is (hopefully) a rule which business bloggers all adhere to. I think Michael Arrington should think about the implication of an anonymous "editorial team" being a major component of the Techcrunch Japan outfit.

As for the quality of translation, it isn't bad at all.

However I might make the suggestion that to make it more relevant to Japanese users, the Japan team (who ever they are. Ok, I've made my point and I won't nag any further) might add a line or two about usability from a uniquely Japanese perspective. Handling of Japanese input, any issues with signing up from Japan, etc.

Camera phones and usage in Japan June 1, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Japan, Mobile, TechCrunch.
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In a survey (conducted by japan.internet.com) of 300 mobile phone users (aged 18-60), it is reported that of 234 respondents who use the camera on the mobile phone at least once a month, 99.6% of users (233 respondents) said that they took still photos using their camera.

More than half of users (56%) reported they had used the phone to scan a barcode (QR code). 

This number is greater than the number of users who used the video capabilities of the phone. (48.3%) 

QR codes are popping up on merchandise, posters, in magazines, all in an attempt to make it easier for users to access content.

Techcrunch featured MyTago, a barcode initiative, on 5/20, and Michael Arrington was sceptical. If he saw how widely adopted QR codes are, he might be in for a suprise. It is probably critical for the success of any such scheme to have pre-installed barcode reader capability. Only when many phones had this feature preinstalled (starting around 2003) did QR codes start taking off, and now with virtually all phones having cameras, QR codes have momentum as a marketing device connecting the real and on-line worlds.

The problem with formats competing with QR codes is that QR codes are free to use. Anyone using a QR code can do so for free, there are free QR code generators avaiable, the only cost incurred is by mobile phone manufacturers in writing or buying in the code scanning software.

NTT DoCoMo’s ad in The Economist March 29, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Japan, TechCrunch, technology.
1 comment so far

Mobile TechCrunch has a piece on NTT DoCoMo's ad in The Economist.

The Ad Copy reads "In the future, mobile communications will be wrapped around you", and features a woman wearing "clothing" which has various media images projected on it.
1. Mobile communications technology will offer a fully immersive, always connected environment. This has positive and also potentially less positive implications, depending on your point of view.

The positive implications are fairly straightforward. Various value added services will be enabled by having a single device which allows data access and storage, providing functionality from e-wallets (debit and credit functionality on mobile phones with embedded non-contact IC card technology is already here), security authentification (phone doubling as security pass for entry into restricted areas),
The potentially not so positive implcations include being subjected to personalised advertising and promotions where every you go, and more seriously the potential precise tracking of mobile phone users. From 2007, all new mobile phones sold in Japan will be required to have GPS functionality. The rationale for this is the increase in so-called E911(US terminology) calls from mobile phones. [The US E911 regulations provide for either phones with GPS modules, or a network of TDOA(Time Difference Of Arrival) receivers (the working principle of TDOA should be self evident)]

2. NTT DoCoMo announced an agreement with flexible display developer PlasticLogic last year. Flexible displays have the potential to allow larger screens which can be stowed when not in use, thus improving usability without sacrificing usability. Perhaps a wearable screen is also possible. The flexible plastic backplane developed by companies like PlasticLogic promises large improvements in toughness, something which has been a major weakness in screens utilising glass and/or silicon in their assembly. Perhaps phones might have external screen outputs (like PCs do) which would allow users to hook up a flexible screen when needed, and revert to the small screen when on the move…

3. There is extensive research going on regarding wearable computing. One of the big issues is power. NEC and others have announced results in flexible battery technology. Whilst the silicon components are already probably small and light enough to be embedded into clothing, useable battery power still requires significant physical volume, and one way to enhance the wearability is to make it thin and flexible. A more flexible battery form factor also allows for more creativity in creating handheld phones with non-traditional form factors.

All of these 3 themes seem to be covered by the DoCoMo ad, the ad copy implicitly refers to these actual initiatives which are being undertaken within NTT DoCoMo's future product strategy.

Smart. (even if the average reader who sees the ad is probably unaware of DoCoMo's current R&D efforts)

新たなFlickr競合サイトの登場? それも日本語対応 March 13, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT, Japanese, TechCrunch.
4 comments

TechCrunchから:http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/03/11/flickr-has-some-catching-up-to-do/

TechCrunchのMichael ArringtonはKristopher Tateが開発した zooomr のデモを先週の meetro のパーティーで体験したと書いている。 Krisは若干17歳!で、meetroの社員でありながら(誤)zoomr(正)Zooomrを仕事時間外に一人で開発したとのこと。3月1日サービスインしたばかりのサービスですが、わずか3ヶ月程度の開発期間を要したそうです。Flickrに様々な機能が添付されています。

Zooomrはflickrと似た(一見酷似した?)ユーザインタフェースを使用していますが、機能面ではより充実している。Zooomrアカウントを作成することも出来るが、(現時点では)他の5種類のアカウントで使用できるとのこと(Level9, OpenID, LiveJournal, Google (Gmail) or Meetro)。機能面ではどのIDを利用して登録しても、同じ。Zooomrは既に日本語を含む16言語に対応。17言語目となるハンガリー語は現在QA中とのこと。

Zooomrの最大の特徴は、多彩なメタデータを写真に添付できる事。すべての写真に音声ファイルを関連付け出来る(現在ではまだサイト内には録音機能は無いので独自に録音したファイルをアップロードしなければならないが)。音声ファイル再生用のFlashプレーヤーがサイトに内蔵されている。写真と人物の関連付けも行える(Flickrでは人の名前をタグとして添付できるのみ)。GoogleMapsとの連動性も考慮されており、Geotagging及びその可視化を容易にしている。また、多数の写真が同地点及び同じ時間帯のメタデータを有している場合、異なるユーザの写真であってもなんらかの同一イベントの写真であると判断し、自動的に関連付ける機能もある。

写真の拡大版を表示する機能にはLightbox.js(またはその改良版)を利用している模様です。

機能の詳細に関しては “learn more”まで。気になるサイト利用のコストですが、月間50Mbまでのアップロードは無料、月間2Gbまでのアップロードは年間$20(Flickrと似たコスト体系だが、Flickrより$5安い)

[個人的には写真への音声解説やGeotaggingは今後この手のサイトでは必須になるのではないかと思う。音声解説の録音を簡単に出来る機能があれば面白いかな。携帯や普通の電話、IP電話を利用したサービスとか(音声をファイル変換するこの手のサービス実はもうありそうだけ、ないのかな)。Geotaggingは2007には国内の携帯電話はGPSが搭載必須になることを考えると、携帯電話メーカーには携帯内臓カメラのメタデータの充実化を図ってもらえればと思う。音声ファイルの添付も携帯で自己完結できるし。パケ代が増えるからキャリアとしてはメリットがあると思われますが・・・]

注1:TechCrunchやDiggなどで取り上げられてからサイトへのアクセスが殺到したため、現在サービス停止中のようです。ハード増強及びデータセンターの契約を見直し近日中に再開する予定だそうです。

注2:この記事はTechCrunchの記事を翻訳・編集した物です。追加情報はOfficial Zooomr Blogから収集しました。

TechCrunchの記事の利用はCreative Commonsライセンスに則った形で編集・再配信させて頂いています。

But Matsushita signals that it is on the offensive March 13, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Japan, TechCrunch.
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Reports in this weekend’s local newspapers announce Matsushita(Panasonic)’s intention to slash prices on its new Plasma displays, thanks to new integrated chipsets and production efficiencies. Matsushita’s Viera brand is the clear leader in the PDP market in Japan, and their announcement will put pressure on Sony and Sharp (the LCD market leader) and others (like Pioneer, a PDP pioneer who is struggling).

Matsushita announced that they expect PDP prices to hit 5000yen/inch about 40% lower than current pricing. That would mean a 42inch display (the smallest full HD PDP panel size available) would retail for less than $2500.

I hope the PDP displays that are coming out are full HD spec panels, that might be enough to tempt me to buy one…. (though personally I would prefer to see a Canon/Toshiba SED display in my living room)