Japanese Don’t Need a Home PC

I’ve lost count. I’ve bought either six or seven Japanese home PCs since coming to Japan and would be lost without my beloved computer. My wife often jokes that I love my PC more than her because I spend more time in my home office than I do in the living room. I solved that problem by setting up Skype on her laptop so she can call me from downstairs!

Mami rarely uses her laptop. In fact, she struggles to find her way around the Windows desktop. In all honesty, it was a waste of money because she really doesn’t need it. As a housewife, she has no need for Microsoft Office and she can email her friends and browse the web from her cell phone. Now, her laptop is just a clunky piece of furniture she rests her coffee cup on.

Japanese cell phones do everything!Cell phones replace the Japanese home PC 

My wife is just an example of many Japanese who have stopped using home computers. Few Japanese bring their work home, and use their cell phones for everything from email and internet, to photos, music and video. These days, you can bypass computers altogether by sending your cell phone’s photos, music and video directly to your printer, home stereo or television.

ContraCostaTimes.com reports that in Japan, flat-screen TVs, iPods, cameras and video game machines are higher on the priority list than a home PC. So, could this be the end of the Japanese home PC market?

Overall PC shipments in Japan have fallen for five consecutive quarters, the first ever drawn-out decline in PC sales in a key market, according to IDC. The trend shows no signs of letting up: In the second quarter of 2007, desktops fell 4.8 percent and laptops 3.1 percent.

Japan is the first major PC market to shrink after 25 years of solid growth. Do you think we will see the same decline in other major markets? Will the home PC once again be a toy reserved for computer geeks?

Inspired by the article, PC market running out of steam in tech-savvy Japan.

6 comments

  1. scott

    I just could not imagine surfing the web on a cell phone. I use it for maps, phone listings or finding odd things. But the screens are just too small to make it enjoyable. I really doubt the home PC will be replaced. I feel it will be integrated into everything we use. Eventually your home, TV, PC and cell phone will all be connected to the same network.

    • Nick Ramsay

      I completely agree about the screen size and enjoyment level, but kids these days (at least in Japan) are growing up with cell phone internet – it’s just normal for them. Yes, computers will be integrated into home appliances and share the same network, but there won’t be a need for an actual PC, at least not in the laptop/desktop sense anyway.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be using PCs for years to come! 😀

  2. ジェイソン (Jason)

    The problem with home PC’s in Japan is that nobody has time to use them. Everyone is either on the train for a few hours everyday or working or in some club. Notebooks are too bulky and the home PC is … well … at home. I think that’s why we see what we do in Japan.

    That said … I’ll never give up using the full sized units. It’s next to impossible to find a good looking phone in Japan that can do so much as replace my aging PDA (Softbank’s X01HT could do it, though), and there’s no way I’m going to start writing long blog posts using a number pad.

    I’ve done some crazy things with technology just because “I could” … but even I have limits 😛

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  4. Mike

    I understand why the use of PC’s are decreasing in Japan. Cell phones are so much more convenient and like Jason says, no one has time to fool around at home. Cell phones are so advanced there from what we have in North America, and then there is the space issue. Japanese homes and apartments are small so making room for a PC is an issue, plus the disposal of it!

  5. Winnie

    I think having email and internet in cell phones is more easy and practical than using home PC. We can browse anywhere and anytime without bringing heavy laptop everywhere. Although now there are many light and thin laptops, however cell phones are much flexible and portable.