Twitter (news, site) is aggressively expanding into the Japanese market, in particular partnering with mobile networks and portals in the country. Twitter's latest partnership involves adding live feeds in Yahoo! Japan search results. Is Twitter doing this as a means to expand into Asian territories just as certain Asian microblogging services are planning a coup in the English-language market?
Enhancing Twitter's Exposure
Twitter has announced the new partnership with Yahoo!, which is for the integration of Twitter feeds into real-time search results pages. This comes right after Twitter announced a partnership with Japan's NTT DoCoMo for providing location-based services and live Tweets on i-Mode search results.
Today, we are excited to announce that Tweets will be integrated into various services on Yahoo! Japan, beginning with real-time results pages. This partnership will allow Twitter content to reach even more users in Japan, one of our biggest international markets."
Reports say that Twitter's presence in Japan runs deep and is one of the company's bigger markets outside of the US. For instance, while English is the most popular language on Twitter at 50%, Japanese tweets come second at 14%. Twitter has actually been serving ads on the Japanese site since 2008. A partnership with a major portal like Yahoo! would help enhance Twitter's exposure among Japanese Internet users.
Beyond the Web
The partnership with Yahoo! would also help enhance Twitter's presence on mobile networks. Yahoo! is reportedly planning to sell its Japan operations to telecoms firm Softbank, which already owns 42% of the Yahoo! subsidiary. If Softbank gets control over Yahoo! Japan, then the mobile network is likely to get better integration with Twitter. Note that Softbank already integrates the Twitter app and direct messaging on its smartphones.
Twitter is seen as an exception to the prevailing trend in social networking in Japan. We earlier noted that local-made networks tend to be more popular than established social networks by foreign brands. To illustrate, Facebook is having difficulty growing in Japan because of its policy of using real names, when most Japanese users prefer using pseudonyms or nicknames.
Challenging APAC Microblogging Firms?
Chinese firms are already branching out into English-language and international services, including search engine Baidu and microblogging service Weibo. In particular, Weibo might be considered a major challenger to Twitter, given its existing user base and aggressive plans for expansion. While Twitter might not exactly view Weibo as a threat, its partnerships with Asia Pacific firms might be an indicator that the company needs to beef up its services and online presence in these markets.