Tagged: cell phones

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.

Japanese phones, email and old people

I’m starting to get really fed up with email. I get over 200 messages a week and usually only a handful of them are not spam. Cleaning out the spam has become a daily part of my routine, much like brushing my teeth, taking a shower and washing the dishes. If I don’t do it every day, my inbox will just grow ugly stuff. So I was surprised to read Nate Anderson’s article called “Teens: E-mail is for old people“.

Is e-mail only for the old? That’s the contention of a string of articles published in the last four months, the most recent appearing today in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle says that in a study last year, “teenagers preferred new technology, like instant messaging or text messaging, for talking to friends and use e-mail to communicate with ‘old people.'” The Mercury News says, “For those of you who have just figured out how to zap spam or manage your inbox, prepare for the bad news: E-mail is, like, so yesterday.” And then there’s USA Today, which makes the claim that “E-mail is so last millennium.”

So, at least in the States, it seems young people prefer instant messaging and MySpace to email, but how about in Japan?

Japanese mobile chat rooms!Well, mobile technology is where it’s all happening and for most young people, the cell phone or keitai is the ultimate communications device. Text messaging is almost obsolete now as all phones use standard email, but there’s so much more. Check out the picture from my keitai‘s manual and you’ll see that ‘chat room’ style conversation is now very much the norm.

Or why not send a video message? My low-end cell phone let’s you send video mail and I think high-end phones even allow for teleconferencing, not to mention the use of Microsoft Word and Excel!

Let me quote Chris Heathcote from his blog about keitai technology:

Whenever you think mobile phones are getting a bit boring, or you want to see the possibilities, or what’s going to happen in the next few years, there’s only one place to look: Japan.

One of the latest features of new keitai here is the ability to use it as cash. Walk into a convenience store, grab what you need, go to the counter and swipe your phone over a bar code reader and the cost will be added to your next phone bill. You can even do the same at vending machines! In fact, with GPS, full music audio capabilities, high-quality digital camera functionality, 3D games and full internet access, young people are passing up on buying a computer altogether – they just use their “phones”!

I don’t know about email being for ‘old people’ or not, but I do know that with a growing number of elderly people in Japan, cell phone manufacturers are falling over themselves trying to make keitai with oversized buttons, screens and fonts, so it might not be too long before there’s a whole generation of silver-haired instant messengers.