Japanese top SNS, Mixi, equivalent of MySpace in the U.S., is said to be in decline for the past few months. While there are lots of debates whether the stats actually reflect the reality, for example use from mobile phones are often not included in the numbers, many agree that Mixi's registered users hit the ceiling in the middle of last year, and the average staying time is declining.
Yuji Mori writes in his CNET Japan blog that he is currently working on joint international research to compare users' SNS behavior in Japan, US and Korea. He has found differences in the SNS culture among those world's most sophisticated net users.
He feels that Japanese Mixi culture calls for a heavy commitment, and often cases people feel choked by this thick relationships. I have also read elsewhere in the past that in Mixi (in which I don't participate), you are expected to respond very quickly to any comments made by your "friends", and if you don't, commenter feels you are rude. In "mobile-centric culture" in Japan, you can upload your comments from your cell phones anytime, and thus it fuels this "excessive expectation." To me, it sound familiar - old-time, rural village mentality in Japan was sort of like this. As a result, many people drop out entirely when they start to feel tired of this constant pressure to respond. Only remaining people are hard-core users, which tend to be small in numbers.
In Korea, even with their "mobile-centric culture" similar to Japan, Mori says that uploading entries/comments from mobile phones to SNS is not as popular as in Japan. I found it very interesting. And he thinks that both in Korea and US, SNS is used as the place for self-expression, rather than the relationship maintenance tool, and members don't necessarily expect someone to respond each time they post something.
I have been thinking that the next wave of mobile data usage in the U.S. would be the use as the uploading tool to SNS and other Web2.0 applications, taken from my experience in Japan, but this article made me think twice. Maybe SNS uploading may not become mainstream elsewhere other than Japan.
Source: CNET Japan blog