When I searched the title, "Japan Makes 20 Billionth Tweet" Google search engine came back with a "Do you mean 20 millionth?"
No, my friend Google search engine, who, after Yahoo Japan's complete capitulation, is now is the reigning king of Japan, just like I wrote, "20 billionth."
In spite of my dire predictions for Twitter world-wide (60% of all Twitter users quit within the first 30 days) see here. Twitter might be able to do OK in Japan. (But I think they are worried about the trend of people in the west quitting and that explains why the big push for events and old media promotion in Japan!)
Why? For almost the same reason that a .com English site with a Japanese language sub-folder or sub-domain is not efficient for Japan: the bit difference between Japanese alphabet and Roman alphabet (English). Japanese language is two bits per character. English, or the Roman alphabet, is one bit per character.
Confusing? I wrote about that here and here.
So, in Japanese, within the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter (117 by Pick including photo) I can write a huge amount of text in Japanese, but not in English. Also, couple this with how very romanticist the Japanese are and how their entire culture is steeped in it, you have a language that Shakespeare would have loved to Tweet upon!
Here's an example of a typical Tweet in Japanese:
The above is just 140 characters including the periods and the exclamation mark (something most of us don't do to save space). But here this girl has space to spare. Here is a rough translation of what this girl is saying:
"I just cannot follow what other people are doing and their logic for doing so. I try to cooperate and work together but find myself getting closer and closer to the point where I feel like I am being betrayed as my feelings seem unimportant. I don't know what the reason is and I don't understand but I wish he was a stronger person. But I forgive him and want him to be happy. I don't know why, and I can't explain, but in order to share memories, we have to take care of things and each other better. I am Miwako and this is my worry."
Like I said, this long (and very rambling) Tweet is just 140 characters. In English it is 535 characters; and 395 characters over the limit for Twitter.
So, while Twitter may have a poor future in the west (just my opinion) it could be great for countries that use a different alphabet than Roman alphabet; like Altaic language, that the Japanese use, or Sinitic language that the Chinese use. Interestingly, they are different....
These types of language differences pose a challenge for all Internet applications such as Google search engine and Twitter. So, no longer does the future of the Internet belong in the hands of those who understand data and programming, but the language geeks will have a hand....
20 billionth, Twitter, Mike Rogers, Marketing Japan, Tweet, Google, Google search, Mike in Tokyo Rogers, Yahoo Japan, Japanese, Japanese language, Altaic, Sinitic