Softbank, Japan’s fastest-growing wireless carrier, plans to embed a Twitter application on to the welcome screen of 14 upcoming cellphones in the hopes of driving mobile data adoption through the popular micro-blogging service.
Twitter is quickly becoming one of the most popular social-networking sites in Japan, reports The New York Times. The number of unique users surged there from 521,000 in April 2009 to 7.52 million in March, nearly catching up to Japan’s biggest social networking site, Mixi, which had about 10.8 million unique users in March, according to Nielsen Online Japan. Softbank’s founder and CEO Masayoshi Son is a living example of that phenoonon. As one of Twitter’s biggest fans, he urges all of his employees to tweet, and has claimed to have replied from his bathtub, using an iPhone protected by a Ziploc bag.
With prominent placement on the handset, the partnership will likely drive further adoption in the country because it will make discovering the application easy. Kevin Thau, Twitter’s mobile platform director said from a news conference in Japan: “We expect to start growing faster than ever here with increased awareness of Twitter. People tend to explore when they get new phones.”
Twitter’s launch with Softbank may be part of its decision to start making its own clients for phones. It recently launched one for Android and for BlackBerry following the purchase of iPhone client Tweetie in April. While the decision upset third-party developers, Twitter believes it is the best way to serve new users.