CORNELIUS BROTHERS & SISTER ROSE - IT'S TOO LATE
No matter what either of these do now, they may never capture the market share they need to be more than an "also-ran" in Japan. The Japanese, especially the women, have already fallen in love with the other Social Networks like Mixi, Gree and Mobage-Town. Is it too late for Facebook?
Japan is over 2,700 years old... Who'd a thunk it would be differ'nt from the good ol' US of A? Funny, that.
Facebook started off very slowly in Japan by not bothering to make their software more "Japanese friendly." They made the old mistake that many foreign companies make when coming to Japan; they didn't bother to learn the intricacies of the Japanese market so they lost a huge chance in this country. In Japan, having a successful debut is critical in getting sympathetic press and publicity.
This is one of the most literate countries in the world, the press and the people have a voracious appetite for information. If you blow your debut and do not get the "fire of imagination" going immediately, then people (and press) lose interest in your very quickly.
Big Japanese companies are backing Mixi, Gree and Mobage-Town. Big Japanese companies own mobile operators in this country. Big Japanese companies own the media and buy advertising. Mixi, Gree and Mobage-Town have about 60 million + users in Japan. Facebook has 2.93 million. You do the math.
At the start, many Facebook functions were poorly translated into Japanese and they didn't make any sense at all to the locals. On top of that, the program wasn't mobile ready.
Here are some figures about the mobile market in Japan in 2008
*€10 billions (3.5 for paid content and 6.5 for the m-commerce) – 17% increase since 2008
*91.5 million people use internet through their mobile (94% through 3G)
Like I said, in Japan, if you blow your debut, that's usually "it" for you; you are through in this country. There is usually no second chance. Good examples of companies that failed by making the mistake of not understanding the Japanese market are, Pepsi, Carrefour, E-Bay, Universal Studios, just to name a few.
I think you can add Groupon to that list and, perhaps, Facebook is coming soon too.
Besides not setting up their software to be more Japanese friendly, Facebook didn't launch their software as mobile ready. That's a big, big, (well actually stupid) mistake in Japan. In Japan, 90% of all cellphone users do not have a personal computer at home.
Facebook has finally gotten their program cellphone ready, but I think it might be too late. Already, Mixi, Gree and Mobage-Town dominate the market. Count up the users from these three and you have almost 1/2 the population of Japan and more than 20 times the number of Facebook users in the country.
Why would the Japanese switch to Facebook? I don't think they will. Time will tell.
Not to mention all of the problems I've listed above Facebook doesn't protect people's privacy enough. I think this has to do with the American attitude towards more freedom in sex. That's fine for the west, but, still the Japanese are quiet people about their sexuality and do not seem too eager to broadcast to the world. I've written about that here before. The other Japanese Social Network systems allow the Japanese to use fake names and they do not pry into family affairs and relationships. Facebook does... In fact, Facebook does it way too much.
I recently got a letter from a Japanese woman regarding my article; Japanese People Like Their Privacy, So Facebook Will Be An Also-Ran. She says that she, too, is suspicious of Facebook. Here is her letter: