TOKYO (AFP) — Twitter, the blockbuster US microblog on which users can post no more than 140 characters, launched Wednesday in the land of haiku, Japan, expecting to strike gold from the country's cellphone addiction.
The website lets users send terse sentences -- or "twitters" -- onto constantly moving bulletin boards telling people what they are doing or thinking at that instant.
The new Japanese-language site will be a test case by posting advertisements, a first for Twitter, which was launched in 2006 by San Francisco-based Internet start-up Obvious.
Despite the site's popularity in the United States, one-quarter of access to Twitter in February originated from Japan, said Hiroki Eda, a senior executive at Digital Garage, a multimedia group that handles Twitter in Japan.
"The traffic boom to Twitter largely comes from Japan. Although comparatively the number of users is fewer than for large web services here, we believe there is enough room to increase users," Eda told AFP.
Twitter does not publicly disclose its number of users.
The Japanese are among the world's most avid users of cellphones, which they use to pay for train fares, shop, watch television, read novels and, of course, to send messages to one another.
Japan is also a hotbed for social networking services as many Japanese enjoy writing and sharing blogs with friends and colleagues.
The wildly popular social networking site MySpace entered the Japanese market in 2006, following in the footsteps of Japan's hugely popular social services network Mixi, which now is venturing into China.
But "Twitter is quite unique in terms a service that is developing on a global scale. Other social networking services are static and updates are on average once a day," Eda said.
"With Twitter, users can update any moment of the day. I think Twitter is complementary" to other services, he added.
The Japanese are no strangers to succinct writing. Brevity is a virtue in literary forms such as haiku, in which each poem has 17 sounds.
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