Japan Social Network Mixi Joins OpenSocial Movement

Mixi, the prominent social network in Japan, launches its OpenSocial support in beta today. This is the first major move Mixi has taken towards supporting an open platform approach. Choosing to take these initial steps by supporting OpenSocial means that Mixi is looking to become a part of a rather large community of social networking sites around the world.

OpenSocial support marks the first release of the Mixi Apps container that’s available in public beta. Mixi has been testing the platform since last December. To help encourage developers to create apps for Mixi, the social network will be holding a conference later this month in Tokyo, as well as announcing its mixi Fund, which will provide financial support for selected developers.

This is a pretty big move for Mixi, as the Japan-based social network has been rather restrictive in its approach to gaining new users and protecting the privacy of members. Mixi was known for its exclusivity as a social network, having strictly prohibited external applications, among other limitations. In doing so, Mixi created a save web-based and mobile environment but also limited the potential for growth. In light of platform adoption for both Facebook and OpenSocial, the growth factors for Mixi’s user base and revenue could be increased greatly with its own open platform strategy.
Revenue has also been an area of success for Mixi, and not just because of advertising on its website and custom mobile site. The good thing is that Mixi hasn’t relied fully on ads for revenue since launching in 2004, but opening its platform to support third party developers means that there will be even more opportunity for generating revenue.
Mixi has a heavy focus on user privacy, so this will be important to keep in mind when developing an OpenSocial app to run on Mixi. Also given Mixi’s large mobile reach, it will be interesting to see the development that occurs around Mixi’s platform and OpenSocial support. The web-to-mobile aspects of various platform applications are seeing more compatibility here in the states, but Japan’s mobile infrastructure is more established and better able to support furthered compatibility between web and mobile applications.