It goes without saying that if you don’t have a mobile presence in Japan, you don’t have a presence! Right now that’s step one for the folks at FB… Step two?
I think the key is… in a word…
Tons of applications…
Easy to use, easy to apply facebook applications, localized and Japanified.
As far as I know Mixi has no applications that people use. Instead of a poke or superpoke to show you’ve been to visit someone’s page, you leave a footprint (“ashi ato”) on the pages you’ve visited. There is no way to turn off this feature. However as for having fun throwing sheep at people or using the apps for the myriad of other reasons people use them on Facebook… there is nothing of the sort.
The target audience for Mixi is quite easy to find because of the community system. There are tons and tons of communities that would provide data about interest levels as they come and go.
There is a very old toy in Japan called “Konapun”. It’s basically a bunch of powders that when mixed with water and allowed to harden, can be shaped or cut to look exactly like spaghetti, sushi, donuts, or a number of other things depending on the pack you buy. There was a small hardcore community of people who traded experiences and memories of the eclectic toy. When an extremely popular comedy show called Lincoln featured the toy, the communitey grew by hundreds overnight. It has since shrunk a little, and will gradually shrink… (however the tv show Lincoln has plans to make Konapun sushi as big as houses… once or twice a year they do a “let’s make a giant something or other” special.)
The point is that most communities vary in members, but if one were to make a “Konapun” application before the next Lincoln show airs, I’m sure it would be popular.
Mixi doesn’t have the level or number of applications that Facebook has. I think Facebook would do well to get as many of these Facebook applications as possible localized, and then get started making new ones that would be fit the pop culture here. Your target audience is also quite varied here so there’s lots of room for everyone.
Right now there’s no need for Facebook because if it’s just staying in touch with friends and joining communities, Mixi’s got Facebook beat here. Applications, and convenience would be great.
I’ve got plenty of ideas and no programming skills so maybe it’s time to learn?
Oh, yeah… and lots and lots of smileys. The mixi pages are chock full of smileys!