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Twitter gets all aggressive with Japan expansion

Firm has one eye on China as it spreads its wings

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Japan beware – micro-blogging phenomenon Twitter has stated its intent to expand “aggressively” in the land of the rising sun.

CEO Dick Costolo told reporters in Tokyo on Monday that the micro-blogging phenomenon would be hiring more sales staff and engineers as it looks to keep pace with strong user growth in the archipelago, according to Bloomberg.

Needless to say, he did not quantify in actual numbers of staff or quantities of cash what an aggressive expansion entails.

What is pretty obvious, however, is that the firm is trying to become a more international business, which means sourcing more revenue from outside the States.

The latest stats from market watcher Semiocast and cited by Bloomberg show Japan is currently the third biggest market for Twitter with 29.9m accounts. This is not far behind Brazil in second with 33.3m but there’s still a huge gap between this following pack and the US, which is way out in front with 107.7m accounts.

What Twitter will be well aware of, however, is that Japanese users are the second most active on the site after those in the Netherlands.

Semiocast measured the number of accounts which posted at least one message between September and November 2011 and found the Netherlands top with 33 per cent, followed by Japan (30 per cent), Spain (29 per cent) and the US (28 per cent).

Japanese is also the most common language used on the site after English, said the firm.

All of which points to why Twitter is keen on expanding in the region. It has already shown its desire to monetise the fanatical user base it has in Japan by launching its Facebook Pages-like brand pages feature there last week.

Twitter could also be accelerating its Japan expansion plans to head off competition from China, according to Hacene Taibi, CEO of Beijing-based web development company THEM.

The micro-blogging site is still blocked in the People’s Republic despite unveiling controversial new functionality which would allow governments to remove certain posts if they don’t comply with local censorship laws.

However, home grown Chinese social sites aren’t bound by the same restrictions abroad and are trying to muscle in on the Japanese market, Taibi told The Reg.

“Baidu is investing there and Tencent also is trying to enter the market,” he said. “It seems the Chinese think Japan is easier to crack than the USA, so they’re trying it first.” ®

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