TOKYO: Twitter, the rapidly-growing microblogging service, is aiming to enhance its presence in Japan, having enjoyed a substantial increase in user numbers in the country during 2009 to date.

The San Francisco-based company has just launched a mobile service in the Asian nation, having developed a Japanese-language version of its portal in 2008, and employed its first dedicated country manager there earlier this year.

Biz Stone, the web portal's co-founder, said "it's an excellent opportunity for us to see where we can go in Asia in general because Japan represents a leading edge, with advanced mobile usage."

According to figures from NetRatings, the number of Japanese web users who accessed the social messaging utility increased by almost 400% between January and June, to a total of 783,000.

In-keeping with the country's reputation as a testing ground for many new technologies and services, Twitter has also experimented with various different devices, including banner ads, in Japan.
The increasingly popular online property may also be about to gain ground in India, where Bharti Airtel, the telecoms provider, has introduced a tool allowing mobile phone users to post "tweets" via their handset, and receive any replies for free.
Writing on a company blog, Stone reported that "organic growth has been unusually strong" in India in the recent past.

"Bharti Airtel is offering people in every city, every village, every remote taluk and even the smallest panchayat the opportunity to connect to Twitter and enjoy the open exchange of information with no added fees," he added.

Atul Bindal, president of Bharti Airtel's mobile services unit, also predicted that "India is likely to become the largest market for Twitter very soon and this service should be a huge catalyst."

More broadly, Twitter is planning to offer targeted variants of its site in French, German, Italian and Spanish in the near future, according to Stone.

Data sourced from AP, AdAge; additional content by Warc staff