Unless you've been - in internet terms at least - hiding under a rock the last few months, you'll be well aware of the amazing growth of Facebook , the social-networking site (SNS) that reaches people who never thought they'd fall for an SNS.
While the success and appeal of Facebook are well documented it is, of course, not the only SNS out there. Of the many hundreds of variants available around the world, one of the most popular is Japan's mixi .
Millions on mixi
Although the publicly listed mixi has a mere 10 million users (compared to Facebook's 26 million in the US alone), that represents one in seven of all internet users in Japan. On top of that mixi users currently spend 1.2 billion minutes a month on the site - a figure that dwarfs the 726 million minutes YouTube attracts there or the 292 million racked up by Google in Japan.
Those statistics are doubly impressive when you consider that membership is by invitation only and that most users access the site exclusively by mobile phone.
As described in more detail in this excellent piece at Network World , among the many reasons for the success of mixi, one of the most significant has been the ability of users to control who sees their personal information within communities.
Given that this very close guard applied to user data is big part of why Facebook has been so successful, perhaps the flotation of mixi on the Tokyo Stock Exchange last year and the instant enrichment of founder Kenji Kasahara points the way ahead for Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg - if he gets through the current litigation , of course.