Facebook Conquers Japan, Beating Homegrown Rival Mixi

Facebook still faces a “China Problem,” but the social networking site has finally conquered the Japanese market, overtaking domestic rival Mixi with 15 million monthly active users.

As recently as 18 months ago, Facebook had only 2 million users in Japan, but an aggressive campaign to adapt to the language and local tastes of Japanese consumers grew its user base 10 million six months ago and 15 million now.

In neighboring South Korea, Facebook overtook Cyworld in February this year, triggering a massive cyber-migration from the once-dominant Korean social network, which had enjoyed a lucrative lock on the most wired nation in Asia since its launch 10 years ago.

By the end of last year, Facebook dominated the Brazilian market with 36 million users — 2 million more than its main rival, Google-owned Orkut.

Essentially shut out of China and Russia, Facebook’s future growth will increasingly depend on expanding its user base in large emerging markets like India and Indonesia, but local sensibilities may be more of an obstacle in those markets than in cosmopolitan Korea and Japan and free-wheeling Brazil.   In India, Facebook — along with Google and other sites — is embroiled in an obscenity trial  for failing to filter “objectionable material.”  Meanwhile, Facebook’s popularity in Indonesia — where 79% of Internet users have Facebook accounts — could take a hit when Salamworld, a Turkish start-up billing itself as the “Muslim Facebook,” goes live in November.

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