written by Tsuruaki Yukawa
Bloger in Chief of TechWave
”You can say that last year’s Mixi open strategy was a relatively small in scale compared to the one that we’re going to present this year.” – Akinori Harada, Mixi Inc.’s No.2 executive. Last year, Mixi, the largest SNS in Japan, annouced an open strategy for third party developers so that they can create games and apps for the Mixi platform.
The official announcement of the New Open Strategy is planned at a conference that is scheduled for August, but three themes have been temporarily decided. The first is the Media/Device Platform. They will not clarify the details until the official announcement.
The second is the Social Support Platform. At the Infinity Venture Summit (IVS) which was held by an independent venture capital firm Infinity Venture Partners at Sapporo the other day, Mixi executives demonstrated a plan to release Mixi’s information to other web sites, and to publish a technical specification called the Mixi API that will allow posting to Mixi from outside web sites.
This idea is similar to the Facebook plug-in that we use here on TechWave. There is a Facebook corner on the bottom-right side of TechWave, and it displays how many users clicked Facebook’s “Like” button along with the Facebook logo. Also, when users click the “Like” button at the bottom of each article, it shows that they clicked “Like” on TechWave’s article on that user’s Facebook page.
It appears that because of this similarity, someone asked “Isn’t this imitating Facebook?” at IVS, but Kenji Kasahara, Mixi’s CEO, said, “we were thinking about this before Facebook announced it.” Also, Mr. Harada, said, “this time, we only demonstrated the same level as the one Facebook announced. In August, we will announce a new approach that not even Facebook is putting into practice, so I think you’ll all understand that we aren’t simply imitating them.” Certainly, this kind of idea has been invented long before Facebook announced. For example, the “Hatena Star,” is very similar to
the “like” botton of Facebook, has been in practice for many years. Therefor, I don’t think Mixi’s new strategy is a simple imitation of Facebook.
And then the third is a Social Gateway Platform. This is a platform that will bridge the social world with the real world , Mixi executives says. It is kind of hard to make out what this would mean based on the available explanation.
As you can see the concrete substance is not yet available, but in all likelihood Mixi’s aim is to construct an information society infrastructure where information can flow inline with friendships.
If you play games with your friends in a group, it’s much more enjoyable than playing games by yourself. That is the value that gave rise to social games.
But that’s not what the “social” factor can do to web services. An even bigger value can be created, when things becom “social.”
For example, just by going shopping with a friend, shopping can become more fun. Just by having a discussion with a friend, even better ideas will come about. In the same way, if you spread a social construct to each and every website, media, device, person, and thing, wouldn’t it make even more value possible to society? That is the bases of Mr. Kasahara and Mr. Harada’s argument.
Now, isn’t Mixi aiming at global expansion like Mobal Game Town and Gree, both are popular game based SNSs in Japan? Mr. Harada said, “Of course. Our target is global.”
However, globally, Facebook is the worlds biggest, with the pride of 5 hundred million users, who hold the same vision as Mixi. How will Mixi go against the 800 pound gorilla? Mr. Kasahara and Mr. Harada both said, “We can’t say anything yet. We’ll announce that at a future date.”
Now, if you’ll allow a daring guess at this point, I think that there is a possibility that Mixi will cooperate with Facebook. They have partnered with Twitter, so it wouldn’t be strange for them to also partner with Facebook. I think that all global social networking services will move towards cooperation with each other at some point in the future.