On the 11th of this month, mixi - Japan's largest social network - released the beta of their Open Web services. In fine closed Japanese form, the beta is limited to "corporate" developers. The site says that the service will be opened to individual developers too, but is not specific about when. Corporate developers can sign up here (Japanese).
mixi had 15.68 million users at the end of September, and has recently relaxed the rules for joining, by removing the requirement to be invited by other users, and lowering the age limit from 18 to 15. This is a bid to revive flagging growth, by targetting high schoolers and people - especially in rural areas - who simply don't know anyone who can invite them.
However in one stroke it effectively changes the model, and breaks the existing social contract with their users that has kept mixi out of the sexual crime and fraud headlines that regularly ring out about the Japanese SNS scene. This has sent ripples through the site, with many "communities" appearing to criticise or debate the issue.
mixi have been dipping their toes in the Open Web, becoming an OpenID Provider ealier this year. Open ID now becomes one pillar of their Open Strategy - the others being mixi Connect and mixi Appli.
mixi Appli is mixi's implementation of OpenSocial, which should allow the simple porting of applications from other social sites to mixi, and vice versa.
In order to provide a higher quality of service, mixi will have a certification process, which it says will provide better exposure for certified apps.
mixi connect is the API service that provides mixi data to third party applications that live outside the mixi environment. The API follows RESTful API patterns, and authentication will be achieved using the oAuth protocol.