NicoNico Douga bosses 夏野剛 / Takeshi Natsuno (a seasoned seller of mobile phone melodies parachuted in to try to stop the cash haemorrhage at Nico’s managing firm Niwango) and 西村博之 / Hiroyuki Nishimura (no less a man than the founder of 2ch and now Nico honcho) have given a most interesting interview on the future and past of NicoNico.
Much is revealed of their plans for expansion; notably we hear they intend to see NicoNico become a part of the national infrastructure of Japan, that they intend a plan of overseas expansion, just as soon as they have dealt with the trifling matter of losing millions of dollars, and that, yes, the biggest challenge facing them may indeed be kowtowing to the intellectual property cartels without wiping their servers bare.
On NicoNico becoming “national infrastructure”, Natsuno is dismissive of young people and otaku in his quest for glory: “We’ve come to the limits of our expansion. If it continues like this, with our popularity just being with young people and otaku, it’ll end. We have to broaden Nico’s appeal, and to do that marketing and the matter of copyright management are essential.”
So expect a new round of wipes, to coincide with a nationwide advertising campaign, though he is not letting on how he intends to convince the rest of Japan of the joys to be had from tickered comments.
He goes on: “Knowing where the boundaries are with copyright is difficult. Some think it’s all infringement, whilst others think as long as it isn’t abusive it’s ok. The lines are particularly difficult to delineate with MADs. There are also those who think it’s untoward to attach comments to their works, whilst others think it’s great if it’s entertaining to their customers”.
“There are also those users who think it’s uninteresting if no copyrighted works come up at all”.
Something of a drastic understatement? Aren’t practically all MADs based on copyrighted content?
On the subject of global expansion, he dismisses any possible cultural impediments to the expansion brusquely:
“It’s just like Bloomberg’s ticker, you know. I researched this when I was working at iChannel (a service which provides news and weather tickers to NTT mobile phones); what kind of speed the ticker can run at and the like. The tickers could be read in one go, so can the comments. So what does it matter what the language is? It’s like you’re saying “Karaoke is Japanese culture”, but karaoke is all over the world now, right?”
Clearly, he has no doubt as to whether the pleasure of obscuring videos with wwwwwww can transcend cultural boundaries. After all, everyone can enjoy a ticker?
And when will the endeavour begin?
“When we’re in the black”.
He has committed to this happening by Sept. 2009. A strategy of revenue generation through both membership fees and advertising is planned. They wryly admit that pursuing a strategy of global expansion whilst losing money hand over fist might not be the most confidence inspiring plan.
The interviewer doesn’t think to ask him about the inconsequential possibility of competition from such insignificant enterprises as Google/YouTube, or what exactly he thinks his global competitive advantage is, beyond tickers. Nor does it seem that Natsuno regards the success of the NicoNico community as much more than the technical triumph of introducing tickered comments.
It will certainly be interesting to see how this turns out.
Full interview on Cnet Japan.