Twitter Japan was rumored to be starting up premium accounts for which users would have to pay to read. This has since been described to be a “misunderstanding” by someone at Digital Garage Mobile who did a presentation in Japan talking about subscription services. He laid out a plan which may have been just a proposal by which one would have to pay to read celebrity tweets.
In Japan, celebrity blogging is huge. Celebrities, idols, singers, gravure idols can all make a lot of money just by writing blogs (or having blogs written for them). These blogs are often the source of embarrassing or gossip-worthy comments. It gives net bullies the opportunity to pick on personalities. I even know of online bullying which led to the suicide of an adult video star who commented about her relationships with famous Japanese comedians. Fans of the comedians bashed her in comments, demanding that she commit suicide. Sadly, she complied.
Twitter would do well to follow the model of Ameblo and other major blogging giants in Japan and pay celebrities to tweet, then simply put some ads in among the tweets. The same people who read celebrity blogs in Japan and allow Ameblo to make a profit on them would certainly read very short, pithy tweets from their favorite actors, comedians, and “joshi-ana” (female tv announcers). Mix in an ad every third to fifth tweet and I doubt that anyone in Japan would complain. Access could easily remain free and still be profitable.
In a nutshell, I would sell some adtweets to be placed among the tweets of celebrities in Japan. Allow it to be free, and pay the celebrities. The model is no different from that currently done for the “celebrity bloggers” in Japan and would provide Twitter Japan with a nice bit of profit. The celebrities themselves could also use the opportunity to plug whatever book, magazine, tv show, movie, or song they are currently working on.
There is a lot of room for making a profit off of the internet in Japan but it requires embracing the model of providing services for free which Japanese companies do not seem ready to do… as in the case with NHK On Demand. (NHK’s plan to offer their tv shows online for a fee seems to be failing.)