195 Articles for 'Web 2.0'

  1. 2007/06/07 Latest report on blog and SNS usage in Japan (7)
  2. 2007/06/04 WZD.com version 2 beta launches (2)
  3. 2007/05/31 What's a better globalization strategy? (6)
  4. 2007/05/26 My thoughts on the NILS 2007 Spring (6)
  5. 2007/05/26 NILS 2007 - Day 2 (6)
  6. 2007/05/25 NILS 2007 - Day 1 (1)
  7. 2007/05/25 Revu 2.0 and the storytelling-commerce integration
  8. 2007/05/09 Wanted: A decent online video white-label service (9)
  9. 2007/04/25 Do you know the term, "Mee-d"? (11)
  10. 2007/04/12 What real problem does your business solve?

Latest report on blog and SNS usage in Japan

Web 2.0 | 2007/06/07 14:18 | Web 2.0 Asia

The following is a latest report on Japan's blog and SNS (social networking service) usage, from infoPlant. (The report is in Japanse).


- Both blogs and SNS services are accessed more frequently from mobiles than from PCs

- None of the sub-19 yr old girls surveyed answered they use PC to access blogs

- Most interested topics were diary/column (70%), movie/TV/music (31%), and news (23%).

Here's the full report:

WZD.com version 2 beta launches

Web 2.0 | 2007/06/04 15:54 | Web 2.0 Asia

WZD.com (pronounced Wizard.com), a Korean offering of web start page, has beta launched its new version. According to 2Z, a Korean blogger (note: link in Korean), the notable features of the new version include:

Sharing web widgets and personal pages: Users can share the widgets and startpages they created with other users. The place where these assets can be posted and shared is called "Oz".

Better UI and design: Unlike on other startpage services, WZD.com users can freely adjust the size of the widgets. Also widgets can be overlaid on top of other widgets, not necessarily constrained to move only up and down within the given horizontal boundaries.

Web widget API: WZD.com announced WZDAPI, a widget-creating API that's compatible with Mac OS, Google, Netvibes, etc.

I gave it a quick spin, and the first thing I said was: This thing is so easy on the eyes! (See screenshot below). You can customize the look and feel by selecting themes for different sections - header, skin, nav bars, etc. Below I selected a Sushi restaurant skin with matching header and nav bar themes, but rest assured, since not all the themes are this cute.

You can easily create and add your own widgets, as well as select from dozens of preconfigured widgets that stream the RSS feeds from notable sources such as Chosun-ilbo (Korea's top newspaper) and Allblog (a blog content syndication site).

So the question is: What's the next step for WZD.com? To become the king of the Korean startpage market (which wouldn't be too large in size, I'm sure), or go global? If they choose the latter, how do they plan to compete against the market leaders such as iGoogle and Netvibes? Bottom line: Well executed, but gotta overcome what some Koreans call the "Korean discount".

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What's a better globalization strategy?

Web 2.0 | 2007/05/31 12:54 | Web 2.0 Asia
of Penn State pointed me to this article (in Korean) introducing Rebi, a new search engine venture founded by Seoul National University students. They are already a 29-people company, and are being mentored by 8 University professors.

Having followed the link, all information I could find was Rebi's algorhythm ranks search results in terms of the author's reputation, quite unlike (and supposedly much superior to) Google's Pagerank. Obviously that's far from being specific enough and I don't know how their technology stands out from that of Techmeme or Technorati's authority search option, which both already rank content based on the author's reputation/authority. Looks like Rebi is a stealth startup and doesn't want to disclose too much information at this stage.

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Anyhow, my key question arises from this quote from the arcticle. They don't have any service up and running yet (so at this phase they are essentially a piece of technology rather than a company with a commercially viable service), but they are setting up a Silicon Valley office soon and will start the service first in the US, not in their hometown Korea.

This brings me to the question about what's the good strategy for globalization: showing a J-curve (or the neck of the hockey stick, however you call it - the rapid initial market uptake) in Asia first, and then launch into the US market with the track record, versus, setting a foot in the Valley and learning the lessons hard way from day 1.

Let's think about Cyworld. It's a hugely popular service in Korea, and when they had announced their plan to launch into the US, everyone noticed and even contemplated a duel with Myspace (like the Shaq-Yao thing, you know). But Cyworld didn't impact the US market as strongly as expected. So this is an example where even a hugely popular service in Korea or possibly other parts of the world might not work well in the US, and therefore you gotta go global from day 1.

On the other hand, services like Skype didn't come from the Valley but have done fantastic. Meanwhile, the Valley should have its own unique cultures etc (and the language barrier for the key foreign management people might factor in somewhere along the way too), therefore your service, which could potentially be a smash hit in your local market, might not even get a chance in the Valley.

So what do you think is the better strategy?

a) Show the J-curve in your local market, which you are familiar with, first and then bring the track record to the US - the "Hideki Matsui way", so to speak

b) Go to the valley, take the heat, and come out as a winner no matter how hard it might be - by the time your service becomes a hit in your local market, it would then be too late to globalize it

My thoughts on the NILS 2007 Spring

Web 2.0 | 2007/05/26 12:55 | Web 2.0 Asia
I heard from many folks that NILS is perhaps the best industry gatherings in Japan, and I agree with it. Most of the attendees were CXOs from prominent Japanese IT companies; Keynote speakers were also very well-chosen and I certainly learned lots from them. Hat tip to all organizers including Mr Masashi Kobayashi.

But on the other hand, it was rather clear that the participants were divided into two groups, the Japanese group and non-Japanese group (the latter being the minority and kinda forming a league of their own). I know NILS is first and foremost a Japanese industry gathering, but I still wish the next NILS would be more international, or at least more pan-Asian with more participants from Korea, China, Singapore, and India.

The internet connection was bad (which I should blame no one but the hotel, by the way). It might be that blogging-as-you-go is not a very common practice in Japanese conferences, but having to take notes offline and later blogging with the note was certainly not 2.0 enough :)

The networking session was terrific. The cocktail party-like setup over some wonderful food was the best part of the conference and I did get to meet many wonderful people. I even had a very deep talk with my friend Benjamin about our life's goal etc - which isn't very common in many other conferences.

Work-wise, NILS led me to think about what I have to do very soon - a) making our service more global (We're #1 in Korea, but that's all for now, so I gotta work more on the globalization), b) integrating more social features to our service; c) harnessing the power of communities more effectively (Thanks, Tariq). I can't write them all down, but I'm taking some nice "food for thought" from this conference with me.

Overall I had some fun time in Sapporo, including going to clubs completely out of fashion in button-down shirts and khakis. I am already looking forward to the next NILS.

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Picture courtesy of Aki Ohashi

NILS 2007 - Day 2

Web 2.0 | 2007/05/26 12:30 | Web 2.0 Asia
I missed the "Launchpad" session in the morning as I got up a bit late and had to work on my emails etc. The afternoon started with 2 sessions from my fellow countrymen from Korea.

The future of the web, from the founder of Cyworld
: This session was held by Mr Yong Jun Hyoung, the original founder of Cyworld. His current interest obviously lies in online video and social networking. He first gave a presentation around a new video service he’s preparing to launch in July, dubbed "Vikipedia". Mr Hyoung is envisioning a video service where a) the “smart mobs” can jointly produce a video clip; b) products that appear in the video clip can be purchased by clicking on the in-video link; c) various digital items that can go with the video clip (emoticons, background music, special effects, etc.) can be sold on a digital item shop and overlaid on top of the original video file. He later gave a demo on how pictures, video clips, and special effects can be layered on top of original video file.

For the digital item shop part, Mr Hyoung showed some figures from Cyworld, which was amazing to me. Cyworld’s background music sales to date is some 200 million songs ($100M revenue), making the minihompy service the #2 music service behind iTunes (although iTunes is a download service and minihompy music is a streaming service, so a direct comparison is not suitable). That’s pretty remarkable given that iTunes is a worldwide service and Cyworld is mostly a Korean service.

Mr Hyoung also shared his thoughts on the emergence of “PRP”, or "Personal Resource Planning”. As ERP is an essential part of an enterprise now, PRP will become a central part of a person’s life, he asserted. Mr Hyoung believes the concept of “personal resource” now mostly means digital content such as photo and video, but in the future will increasingly include more things such as call and SMS history, product purchase list and wishlist, and even the TV program watchlist and the food consumed (which is given by RFID tags). And as such, keeping up with and sharing those personal resources will become increasingly important and perhaps where the future of the web lies in.

Korea's User Generated Content Service, Case Studies: Henry Kim, CEO of Omnitel, outlined the concept of NPlugs, a service that they claim enables “Social networking 2.0”. Omnitel is a public company with about 100 employees, whose main business is mobile broadcasting and DMB solutions, and mobile content service.

NPlugs enables seamless file sharing among multiple devices, agnostic to device type (notebook computer, mobile phone, etc.) This way, if people around you (family, colleagues, etc) had permitted access to their devices, then you can view all those accessible devices in an integrated view on NPlugs and find/exchange information seamlessly. This platform-independent file sharing seems to be the key differentiation factor of NPlugs. 

The next speaker was Michael Hong, CFO and head of global business development of Pandora TV. Pandora TV (Pandora.tv) is the leading video service provider of Korea, in terms of unique visitors and average session duration. They had a phenomenal growth - the growth rate between June 05 to December 06 was a whopping 7,000%.

Pandora was one of the first movers in the online video space; They opened 5 months before Youtube did. But because they were based in Korea, they didn’t have as much impact on the global market as Youtube. To address this, Pandora is opening an international service, primarily targeting the Asian audience, in September this year. Thereby, Pandora wants to become the “Youtube of Asia.” Pandora will introduce user-generated subtitle system so that users themselves will translate the videos available in other languages into their own language.

Pandora’s business model is pre/postroll ads and providing viral video files. Currently, the Korean advertising market is $8 billion in size and the online ads take up about 12%. Mr Hong said the equivalent figures would be 7-8% in Japan and 4% in China, suggesting the online ads have room for growth in those countries. If Pandora finds the

The future of web apps - Tariq Karim of Netvibes. Tariq started by showing the demo of Netvibes, and went on to talk about the widgetization of the web. When Mr Masashi, the moderator of the session, asked people to raise their hands if they know about Netvibes, about 90% of people raised their hands - so Netvibes is pretty well represented in Japan, I guess.

Netvibes is now among global top 5 in terms of RSS (which they define as "Really Sexy Syndication") feed delivery, and is looking to compete with Google (iGoogle) and the market leader My Yahoo soon. They also provide Netvibes Universe, a service that "widgetizes" the media. About 160 media companies are already providing their media content through Netvibes Universe; Agile Media Network of Japan is the first Japanese company on Netvibes Universe. The Netvibes Universal Widget API (=UWA) is an open source API that allows you to create widget once, and use it everywhere, including Macs, Google, and mobile devices.

What was perhaps most amazing about Netvibes was their fascinating relationship with the open source developer community around the world. Netvibes decided to go global from day 1, and as they were based in France, they figured that working with communities from around the world was the key to their globalization. Tariq said, if you come up with a good vision and throw that to the community, the community will certainly roll up their sleeves and help you build a great service. About 15,000 users joined Netvibes on the first day of launch, and Tariq didn't know where all these people came from - that's the power of the community, he said.

About the startpage companies, I've always had a question whether they are offering a feature of a service, and I asked that question to Tariq - to which he answered that they're building a platform where they allow people to personalize the web, which would definitely be a service, not a mere feature (or so I interpreted.) But it looks like they are on their way to make money, which would help proving them as a good "service" as well as a good "feature". First way of making money is to monetize the widgets; For example, if Netvibes provides a widget for a travel agency, they make commissions whenever online booking is made. Also the partnership with media companies would help their revenue generation, too.

NILS 2007 - Day 1

Web 2.0 | 2007/05/25 12:44 | Web 2.0 Asia
I'm in this beautiful city of Sapporo, Japan to attend the NILS - New Industry Leaders Summit. NILS is a twice-a-year event where about 300 CxOs of various IT companies participate. They mostly come from Japan but increasingly more non-Japanese executives are coming to the event as well. Here's my summary of Day 1 sessions.

Future of Internet TV: Jeremy Allaire, the Founder and CEO of Brightcove, held the opening keynote and gave his insights about the changing landscape around the online video industry. Jeremy emphasized that, despite all the craziness around Youtube etc, the online video industry is far from being "game over" - in fact we're just seeing the beginning of it. Out of the $350B worldwide video market, online video service currently takes up only 0.01%. Brightcove is opening a Japanese office soon - Hope they will provide a decent white label service to Asian customers. By the way, the internet connection at the hotel was so bad that Jeremy could hardly give a good demo, which was a shame.

Online ad exchange market - Philip Kaplan, the founder and president of AdBrite, and Niren Hiro from AdMob Inc. gave presentation about the online and mobile advertisement. AdBrite serves up ads for 45,000 publishers. What was especially interesting was BritePic, what they called " on steroid." It turns your web image into a banner ad by overlaying ad-related functions on top of the image file. What a guy Philip is, by the way - he showed a Ze Frank-like video of himself explaining his service, and later on during the cocktail party went on the stage and played drum, stopping everyone's conversation for good 5 minutes. A good insight from Philip, by the way: Superbowl ads are not about superbowl; They are about cars and beers. When it comes to the online advertisement, finding the right demographic is far more important than being contextual.

AdMob, on the other hand, seemed to be more focused on the mobile ads and (accordingly) the Japanese market. What was interesting from their presentation was some of the figures on the Japanese mobile internet market. Japanese mobile internet service market has 3 times more users and 8 times higher penetration than the US; 85% of whole Japanese people use flat rate data plan (which I didn't know); There are 80-120K off-portal mobile sites in Japan. So AdMob is trying to streamline the Japanese advertising industry, which still depends pretty much on the traditioinal way of doing business such as phone calls between the ad seller and buyer. AdMob is in a good position of doing so, as the company serves up 2.8 billion ads in 160 countries by partnering up with 1800+ mobile sites, according to them.

Both AdBrite and AdMob were invested by Sequoia and they shared some of their Sequoia experience. Philip of AdBrite said he was impressed by how much of due diligence was done by the VC. In fact Sequoia talked with so many of AdBrite's customers that at some point it was Sequoia who talked about AdBrite's business, not AdBrite themselves.

RIA with Apollo: Perhaps the best demo in the event. Mike Chambers from Adobe gave a presentatio/demo of some cool Apollo applications. First he showed a Finetune Player, a desktop application. The Finetune desktop application can play the playlist that resides on a web server, and as it's a desktop application, it can act like one e.g. importing playlist from iTunes, doesn't close even if the web browser crashes, etc. Another demo was Maptacular, a mashup of local address book content with Google maps. Maptacular is a Flex app layered on top of Google Map service (not just an overlay but a deep level integration). They're also working on the Ebay application. As the name suggests, the application allows you to use eBay on your desktop application. It's got some merits; the seller information is kept locally so you don't have to type it every time; you can be notified instantly if you missed an auction rather than having to check the email on and on; your shopping list can be exported to Excel, etc. Mike also showed some other demos such as Adobe Media Player, Mini Digg, and Twitter camp. More information on Apollo can be found at http://www.adobe.com/go/apollo.

The panel discussion: This was very interesting. Five executives from well-known Japanese companies (DeNA, Opto, Allabout, Septini, Works Application) came on stage and shared their vision and lessons regarding running a company. They talked about how the founding members of the company changed their roles as the company grew. Also talked about was "what should be the right role to be played by a CEO?" And, despite some minor differences, the shared theme was a) Designing corporate vision and culture; b) Recruiting and training talent; c) Operating the company efficiently by some good human resource management.

Revu 2.0 and the storytelling-commerce integration

Web 2.0 | 2007/05/25 11:36 | Web 2.0 Asia

Revu, a collaborative product review service from Opinity AP, recently re-launched. Before the relaunch, Revu was essentially a product review search engine with a Google-like simple front page. But now the service has added more features and seems to aim at becoming a "social shopping" site, with new features like Buzz Items.

Here's how Revu typically works. You upload an "item" - ranging from Starbucks Latte to BMW X5 sport ute - on Revu. Then, other people find the item and the reviews associated with the item, or add their own reviews. One can also publish his/her "items list" under the name "one's collection". If you got a good shopping taste and good product review skills, people might become a follower of yours and subscribe to your collection.

Revu offers a unique feature called "Q tag", or "qualitative tag", on top of a basic tagging feature. Q tag allows people to rate tags with "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" by clicking on the + or - buttons given at the end of each tag. Tags are good but requires at least some typing effort, which is why (reportedly) less than 1% of people actually tag; To prevent the tags from being skewed, reflecting only a single person's idea, Revu has designed a "tag rating" system.

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So who are the competitors of Revu? The answer depends on how the service defines itself. When Revu was solely focused on product review search, it was pretty much a service of its own, at least in Korea. But if the service wants to set its foot in a bigger game, namely social shopping, then Revu might find itself facing bigger competitions in companies like Auction.

Auction, an Ebay company in Korea, has always been interested in combining story-telling and online commerce. Their TV advertisement tagline is "Auction your style". The underlying message there: As more and more buyers will find and get drawn to you because of your style, not an item or two you're selling, why don't you show your "style" on Auction, get more followers, and become an online star?

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Under this philosophy, Auction has been churning out some interesting features such as "Auction Sancy", squarely targeted at young female audience. Auction Sancy is like a female portal within Auction (think an Ebay Girls). On Auction Sancy, you get to meet the "style leaders", or the street fashionistas posing in front of camera in nice outfits (which get to be sold on Auction, of course).

One interesting feature within Auction Sancy is what's roughly translated as "the beauty queen shop". The service lets young girls build a Cyworld-like minihompy within Auction. The girls show off their style through those minihompies; Other girls are drawn to the style and buy the item. So the "beauty queen shop" runners can make some nice money, as well as satisfying their desire to show off their style and beauty. It's like running your own boutique line where both the designer and the fashion model are, well, you. 

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Other than Auction, there are also some other storytelling-based commerce services. Storyshop, for example, syndicates review content from print and online magazines and cross-sell products related to the article. For example, the service first presents interesting magazine articles such as "Wondering what bags to carry for your honeymoon?" and then places links to buy luggage bags at the bottom of the article.

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Meanwhile, Japan's Magaseek is an online shopping mall where the products featured in many of girls' fashion magazines are sold. A reader of fashion magazines often wants to buy the item featured on the magazine, right away. Magaseek allows you to do that. A similar feature is included in the Fashionwalker as well.

Encouraged by the fact that most people almost invariably ask other people - friends or "gurus" - when it comes to purchase-related decisions, the concept of social shopping has been regarded as the "holy grail" of Web 2.0 companies ranging from Kaboodle to ThisNext to Stylehive. But in Asia, we still don't see a clear winner in the market, nor a company that has truly effectively harnessed the power of social shopping. Who will come out as a winner in this "holy grail" remains to be seen - it just might be Revu.

Wanted: A decent online video white-label service

Web 2.0 | 2007/05/09 21:52 | Web 2.0 Asia

Does anyone know of any good "white-label" online video service? i.e. a service that allows you to provide a Youtube-like video service right on your website, under your own brand.

Today, if you want to allow your website's users to upload their videos on your site, you are left with only two choices: Either buy the whole video system (license for codecs such as On2 codec, servers, bandwidth, etc) and implement the video service yourself, or ask the users to go upload their videos on Youtube and then paste the Youtube links on their pages.

Doing the video yourself requires huge investment (money + tech resource). Asking the user to go to Youtube, get the link, and paste it on your service doesn't quite seem true to the spirit of mash-up.

I checked if Youtube offers an upload API - It doesn't yet, although . Youtube's upload API would be nice, as I can provide video upload service right within the frame of my service, vs. asking the user to go to Youtube and come back with the link.

Apparently, Yahoo doesn't provide a video upload API either (no mention on their ). Grouper provides a 3rd party video API but it's only for viewing, not uploading. Videoegg seems closest to the concept of white-label video service in that its biz model is to "power" the video service for various social networks. But they seem to work only with big players; They say they don't provide service to the sites that are at pre-launch or have less than 50,000 montly unique visitors.

I think a white label online video service has a good market opportunity, as more services want to integrate user-generated video features. For example, if you are American Idol, at some point you might probably want a feature that allows users to submit their vidoes right on your website. But you may not want to implement the online video service just for that. Are there services like this already that I'm not aware of?

Do you know the term, "Mee-d"?

Web 2.0 | 2007/04/25 14:11 | Web 2.0 Asia
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I get this question all the time: What's the interesting IT trend in Korea?

Well, usually the person who asks this question knows a thing or two about Korea, so they expect some typical answers such as online gaming, mobile, or the Cyworld. But here's a trend that I think is changing the Korean internet/media landscape in a more profound way: the "Mee-d".

"Mee-d" (sounds the same as the English word "mid" but with a more prominent "d" pronunciation) is the Korean word short for "American Dramas." Shows like Prison Break and CSI, among hundreds of others, are avidly followed by tens of millions of Korean young people.

Almost invariably, these shows are downloaded off the web and consumed on notebook computers or PMPs (Portable Media Players). Legal? Of course not. Ads? There's none. The language barrier? Korean captions are composed in an open source way. Community volunteers submit the translations of those American shows. There's no clear benefit to the volunteer translators other than fame, but whenever the new episode comes out, a race goes on for who submits the translation file first, with a more accurate translation.

As for the Prison Break, a Korean cable company belatedly purchased the license and broadcast the show, but that was after everybody watched it, so the company only had a limited success.

Do the Korean youths feel guilty here? Not at all, because there's no way they can legally purchase the shows anyway. So this means the broadcasting companies are missing out huge opportunities already. But perhaps more importantly, the media companies can predict what will happen to the way media is consumed in the rest of the world by looking at what's happening in the Korean market.

Some of the immediate takeaways from the Korean Mee-d pheonomena: Soon it will be almost impossible to separate out the "internet" from "media"; Broadcasting companies better come up with an easy and affordable way of legally downloading their content, or they will be doomed by not monetizing the non-TV viewers - who count by tens of milliions already.

I wonder how Prison Break is watched in other countries. Does anyone know?

What real problem does your business solve?

Web 2.0 | 2007/04/12 20:32 | Web 2.0 Asia

The question any web company should ask itself constantly is this: What real problem does your company solve? In the recent Knowledge at Wharton online magazine, a piece called "Two Technology Executives, Two Views of the Virtues/Perils of Connectivity", Robert Carter, the CIO of Fedex, cites Stubhub as an example of a company that solves a real problem. Stubhub is an online ticket broker - the company "hooks up holders of extra or unusable event tickets with fans who are eagerly seeking to buy them at market value."

The company was sold to eBay at $307 million, and Robert thinks this is a bargain. I think I agree with him. Anyone should have an experience where he/she wanted to see if there are enough tickets left for today's game, and if those tickets can be purchased at a reasonable price. If you are a sport club owner, you'd want to sell every single ticket throughout the season. If you are the owner of Manchester Utd, you wouldn't have such worries. But if your club is selling only half the tickets all the time, you'd want to sell the rest of the tickets at even half the price. If services like Stubhub can help you do that, you will be happily pay them for providing such service. So again, What real problem does your company solve?

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