Did Japanese SNS market peak already?

SNS – social networking services – sites in Japan keep increasing the number of registered users, but it’s a fact that each member is spending less time and log in less frequently. Has SNS peaked in Japan already? If so, what do they need to do to survive and even to increase the popularity?

While Japan’s popular Social Networking Services (SNS) still increasing the number of registered users (mixi with 14 million users and Gree with 4 million users), it’s a fact that the “newness” of these services has worn out. Many people are now on these SNS sites less frequently and spending less time.

goo Research and Internet.com’s survey results show that people started to lose interests in SNS sites about 10 months ago. Since mixi opened in February 2004, has the SNS market in Japan peaked out already? If so, what do SNS sites need to do to survive or even to increase active users?

With my experience, it was fun to be invited and to invite friends to join these sites at the beginning. Till then, I was visiting lots of websites owned by my friends to communicate by posting comments on their BBSs. It was getting to be a lot of work, and was definitely time consuming. When mixi opened in 2004, we invited each other to join so that we can all communicate at one place. It was great. Then we started to join other SNS sites. I’m now registered at 20+ social media sites. Trying to check in and update these sites is like 2003 all over again. Since there aren’t much differences among these SNS sites, you just need 1 or 2 sites where most of your friends and contacts are. And, I’m sure that’s what many SNS users in Japan are thinking. If you are not mixi, differentiating your services from others is the key to success or survival in next 12 months. That fact that many Japanese are now looking into “specialized SNS sites” (i.e., music only, local area specific, or age specific) backs up my point. Sure, these sites may never become as big as mixi or Gree, but they would probably have more active user rate.