A Japanese version of Twitter was launched today making this the first alternative language version for the site.
I find it interesting that Japanese is the first language that the site has been localised in but as Twitter reported in their blog they were noticing a high volume of users and Twitters originating from Japan which drove them in their decision to localise into Japanese. This is very much in keeping with what I’ve heard elsewhere about social networking sites: you never know what region your site is going to take off in so site owners tend to internationalise and localise into languages where they already have market share rather than where they want to build a presence. Both Facebook and Flickr have followed this path.
What is really great is that by releasing translated versions social networking sites are really putting internationalisation back on the agenda for website owners and developers in general. Previously internationalisation was the domain of global corporates where as now it’s more relevant to sites we use more regularly.
To see the Japanese version you’ll need to select the Japanese option from the drop down select box. Not a great idea as many Japanese users may not understand what “Select language” means. Ideally Twitter should code the English and Japanese as HTML text and remove the drop down. Translating the TITLE of the page would also help wannabe Japanese Twitterers.
I’ve not checked it out under the bonnet but if you have leave a comment and let everyone know what you think.