SXSW Interactive is in only two days. I can’t wait to be there. And no, it’s not the tons of paper used to print all the invites that gives me excitement. It’s the fact that Japan will be a highlight of the Festival .
In 2010, I was lamenting that no interactive panel seemed to be talking Japan, a hotbed for innovation and a big question mark for pretty much all the attendees I was talking with. To cut the story short, what an amazing surprise to have witnessed no less than 3 other Japan events after my own panel was greenlighted.
My panel will take place on March 15 at 11:00am. I’m proud to have only Japanese nationals represented -a promise I had made to myself last year-, two women -I really wanted to fight for that- and such variety of backgrounds: the CFO of Gree -Japan’s biggest social gaming network-, a brand & advertising connoisseur, an IT & telecom specialist & the Japan business correspondent of the New York Times. Wow.
I owe a lot to my friends Joi Ito, Hitoshi Hokamura and Motohiko Tokuriki. You were awesome in helping me out, thanks so much. A shout out to Dave Olson & the HootSuite Japan team who have been working the community out, and to Kogure for spreading the word out in Japan.
So now, without further ado, the Japan schedule.
Big in Japan: Outreaching to a unique market
Web and mobile technology have developed differently in Japan than any other country with hardware, features and social communities which are completely unique to this singular market. But Japanese companies are now realizing this introverted market position isn’t sustainable and are now looking towards technology from outside and exploring way to create technology for outside of their country.
Japan has ubiquitous high-speed coverage and a voracious appetite for tech gadgets, however, their tools have developed with entirely different features than other countries. For example: Japan’s “Galapo-phones” commonly include streaming TV and multi-character sets, Mixi and Gree each have more than 30 million users on their social networks, and Yahoo is a whole different experience from US counter-part.
With meteoric growth in Twitter and network tools, Japan aims on becoming the regional leader for emerging social web technologies — much like their early leadership in consumer electronics and gaming industries. This presents opportunities for collaboration and partnerships but localizing requires more than translation.
This panel will discuss the unique characteristics of Japanese web and mobile market including tactics for connecting to markets, identifying opportunities, and outreaching to audiences, plus understanding unexpected cultural nuances and consumer expectations.
Fumi Yamazaki (@fumi), Blogger
Robert Laing (@robert_laing), CEO, myGengo
Rocky Eda (@rockyeda), Head of CEO’s office, Digital Garage
Steve Moch, General Manager, Mangahigh.com
Ryan Holmes (@invoker), CEO, Hootsuite
This track, focusing on entrepreneurship and localization, was proposed by Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite. You can follow the panel on Twitter via the #bigjapan hashtag.
Japanese Mobile Leaders Forum
“Japan” “Mobile” “Social Media” – what do you see when you have these words together? Cyber utopia? Shrinking Galapagos? Ninjas with high-tech swords? It’s about time we know what the real scenes are in Japan. With the leaders of the mobile social media in Japan, we will discuss what the Japanese mobile social media world looks like, where they are headed, and how the “outer world” will affect / or be affected. Needless to give examples like the explosive rise of Twitter in Japan, the question is not whether the country is the “land of the rising sun” in mobile social media or not – it’s how high has the sun risen, and why.
Eiji Araki (@eijiaraki), VP Products, Gree International
Serkan Toto (@serkantoto), Japan Correspondent, TechCrunch
Taisei Tanaka (@mochihada), CEO, Geisha Tokyo Entertainment
Tak Miyata (@takmiyata), Executive VP, Mixi
Takahito Iguchi (@iguchi), CEO, Tonchidot
This track, focusing on mobile and social media, was proposed by Takahito Iguchi, CEO of Tonchidot. You can follow the panel on Twitter via the #jpmobilesummit hashtag.
Japan Web: A New Beginning or the Galapagos
Japan remains a big question mark. Sometimes qualified as strange, sometimes thought as very innovative, often unknown to many. Can you name one Japanese startup? Can you name one Japanese web service that you use? Do you know Facebook is almost inexistent there?
With the recent successes of Twitter (almost 20% of worldwide tweets are in Japanese), the iPhone (shaking a very insular mobile market), is Japan opening up to the US and the world? Similarly, with Rakuten, the Japanese eBay, acquiring Buy.com & opening offices in the US, but also entering China and elsewhere, are we witnessing a new era of Japanese companies’ expansion?
Japan remains a land of opportunities. A country where innovative models are popping up every day. Let’s learn about Japan.
Hiroko Tabuchi (@hirokotabuchi), Japan Business Correspondent, New York Times
Ko Orita (@koo), President, Digital Media Strategies
Michi Kaifu (@michikaifu), CEO, Enotech Consulting
Naoki Aoyagi (@naoki), CFO, Gree
Serkan Toto (@serkantoto), Japan Correspondent, TechCrunch
Ken Brady (@kenbrady), Digital Strategy, Wieden+Kennedy
Paul Papadimitriou (@papadimitriou), VP & Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
This track, focusing on the industry and the web culture, is the one I submitted. You can follow the panel on Twitter via the #SXJapan hashtag -which will also cover the rest of the events.
Japan Technology Summit
The Japan Technology Summit will provide an hour-long exploration of the new media scene in Japan. Speakers will cover the hottest new technologies in this country, as well as identifying key players and key companies, current investment opportunities and the kinds of programs available for technology entrepreneurs. If you need a crash course regarding the newest tech-related developments in Japan, then be sure to attend this session!
The Technology Summit is a new two day event that immediately follows SXSW Interactive. This session will be hosted by Serkan Toto and will feature Koichi Yamamoto, Ryo Shimizu & Takahito Iguchi.
Now, SXSW wouldn’t be SXSW without the parties, correct? Here are two!
Domo, Yobongo, Soundtrckr, Who’s Free & Gatsby Want To Buy You a Drink
Domo, the new service of Tonchidot, is partnering with other location-based services. Drinks, networking and partying!
Japan Social Tech HootUp
HootSuite leads this meetup about Japan’s tech culture and industry. Fun swag prizes included.
That’s all right now -I’ll update if needed. Hope it quenches your thirst about everything Japan during SXSW Interactive!
Now, on to packing my luggage -and my 3 iPhone external batteries.
This article was modified to correct the title of one of the panelist. It was altered again to reflect the new composition of the third panel after two panelists cancelled due to the Japan earthquake disaster.—
- I had originally come up with a mini-site, SXJapan.com, to host all the SXSW Interactive Japan content in one place. However, the organizers and I didn’t have the time to finish all the legal paperwork in order to use the SXSW brand name. Thus, and for the moment being, it redirects here. [↩]