Saturday, January 26, 2013

Can Mixi, Japanese Social Network Service, Revive?

According to Neilsen Netview, a research company, the SNS used most by Japanese people in September 2012 was Facebook with 17,369 thousand usersThe next closest was Twitter with 13,243 thousand users.  The third was mixi, the Japanese SNS, but the people who visited is under one third of Facebook, only 5,686 thousand.

Just one year before, in September 2011, the most popular SNS in Japan was mixi, which had 21 million active users (who used the service within one year).  This number was more than twice that of Facebook, which had only 9.7 million users.

One of the biggest traits of mix is that it is anonymous.  Different from Facebook, no actual name was necessary and it was said that Japanese people prefer anonymity.  However, with the boom of Facebook, mixi's popularity decreased.  I personally created a mixi account in around 2005, but I have not logged onto mixi for more than a year.

There would be many reasons for the decline in mixi's popularity.  One important aspect may be the specification changes, such as abolishing a "Footprint function", or "Ashiato Kino," by which users can tell who visited her page.  Although this change was to deal with spammers who visited users' pages and attract users to visit their advertising pages, many mixi users protested, as they were unable to know who was interested in their site.

Facing this hardship, mixi started to change the managers and introduced the policy of "user first" by which they listen to the request of users and enhance the users' experience.  In December 2012, one year and a half after the removal, mixi re-introduced a similar function to the footprint function.

But it would take some time before we can tell whether mixi can revive.  In Japan, there are not many users who express their opinion to the administrating company. It may be that the silent majority's opinion is different from that of a user with a loud voice. "User first" policy may lead to reflect the needs of the users who have loud voices.  The question is whether the users who do not actively complain to the administrations would be happy with the "enhancement of the user experience."  Whether mixi can reflect the needs of such passive users would be the key for their revival.

DISCLAIMER: "IT Law issues in Japan" only provides general information about Japanese information technology law and does not, under any circumstances, constitute legal advice. You should first obtain the advice of professional legal counsel who is qualified in Japan before acting or refraining from acting based on this blog.

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