With the search engine share being 56% for Yahoo! Japan and only 31% for Google, and with a loyal Facebook following beginning to develop, I thought Google+ would have a tough uphill climb in the race to social media supremacy in the land of the rising sun. I couldn't have been more wrong. Recently it was announced that Google+ is teaming up with the enormously popular Japanese girls' group AKB48. The plan is to distribute AKB48 news and content via Google+ with translation into different languages. Supported languages in addition to Japanese will be English, Chinese, Korean, Thai and Indonesian, showing an obvious emphasis on the Asian region.
From a business standpoint, this move is seen as Producer Yasushi Akimoto's attempt to stave off the K-POP onslaught that has taken the entire Asian region by storm. He is quoted as saying, "I think of K-POP as being like Major League Baseball, and AKB48 is more like Little League or high school baseball." His assertion is that there are different tastes and different demand, and offering AKB48 with easy accessibility can result in more pleasure for a broader audience. In other words, to each his own.
All members of Tokyo-based AKB48, Nagoya-based SKE48, Osaka-based NMB48, and Hakata-based HKT48 who are 18 years of age or older (as per Google+ regulations) will be joining this project, with Jakarta-based JKT48 expected to join in the future. Under-aged members will be joining through a separate portal. AKB48 Google+ Hangout live events are apparently in the works. With this uncanny move, Mr. Akimoto joins forces with the still underachieving (in Japan that is) Google to put his girls "on the map" in the Asian entertainment world. Likewise, Google+ gets a major boost in its battle against Facebook.
Yasushi Akimoto (center) is joined by AKB48 members (left to right) Rino Sashihara, Minami Takahashi, Atsuko Maeda, Mariko Shinoda, and Aki Takajo.