PC Use Among Japanese Plummets

December 5, 2007 at 8:59 am 4 comments

Yahoo!Finance reported earlier last month that personal computer use among Japanese has fallen. From the first quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2007, shipments of PCs to Japan fell 6.8 percent. And in the second quarter of 2007, desktop shipments fell 4.8 percent and laptop shipments fell 3.1 percent.

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Of course, I can barely tap out a coherent text message on my utterly un-enhanced cell, whereas my Japanese counterparts have been expertly utilizing mobile phones, handheld consoles and pocket-size communicators for years. Not to knock the iPhone, which is beautiful and impressive, but in general, Japanese tech products are more advanced than American ones. Besides instant messaging, email, camera, TV and film downloads, internet, GPS navigation, video games, MP3 players and day planners (deep breath!), some Japanese phones also come with “crime prevention buzzers” or embedded wallet function, which allow people to swipe their phones like cash cards at the subway station or grocery store. (For more on that, see our E-Cash post from August.)

Another popular function of Japanese phones is scanning QR Codes, which appear in magazines, stores, product boxes and posters. They look like square bar codes but actually contain a wealth of information like URLs, addresses, and more. To the naked eye they look like gibberish, but phones read and translate them on the go for later use.

No wonder desktop computers seem cumbersome in comparison. What does this mean for the PC market in Japan?

Well, nobody’s throwing their laptops out the window; they’re simply not upgrading them, preferring instead to spend money on other gadgets like new flat-screen TVs or the latest game consoles.

Sarah S.

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Entry filed under: Japanese Business, Japanese Entertainment.

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4 Comments

  • 1. gabuchan  |  December 5, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    I want to help you guys gather info to put on your blog. i.e. lets work together. please contact me if interested. Thanks
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  • 2. Sarah S.  |  December 7, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Thanks! We appreciate the offer, and if we have a chance to collaborate on something we’d be happy to do so.

  • 3. MRES  |  December 11, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Also in Japan, the games consoles aren’t simply games consoles like they are in the US and Europe. Over there they ARE PC’s. Do you ever wonder why these consoles come with all these USB, Firewire, ethernet etc ports, but we hardly ever see the peripherals that utilise them? That’s because in the far east the games console is just a base starter system onto which you add all the peripherals you need to not only play games, but much much more. Why have a PC AND a games console? Why have a gaming PC? Why not just have the console BE your PC and media centre all in one box?

    It’s a different market with a different view on tech. Unfortunately for me, I live in the UK and have to tolerate all the decade-old tech (sold as the ‘latest thing’) such as 3G phones with crappy 512Kb mobile broadband and 5Mp cameras, when my brother-in-law who lives in Hong Kong has a nice 7Mp camera plus DV Quality video on his OLD spare mobile phone… the first time I ever saw a phone with mp3 ringtones was one he brought over – around about the same time we in the UK were being sold on polyphonic ringtones as the next must-have ‘feature’ for your phone!

    You walk into a mobile shop in the UK and see maybe a couple of hundred models on display. In HK you’d get twice that number crammed into a single tiny point-of-sale display in any old backstreet phone shop. And what’s more – they’re all free from provider lock-in. You just buy the phone and put your existing SIM in there with no fixed term contracts or anything (even works for PAYG). It’s a much freer way to buy and gives you better choice and cheaper products with greater features and service.

    Unfortunately, most consumers in the west aren’t tech-savvy enough to see how they’re getting screwed over and over, but instead they keep buying the same old hand-me-down tech dressed up as something new! Gish….!

    I’ve also seen those ‘barcodes’ used in HK. Bands have info on the flyers they hand out – if you scan it into your phone it can put you on a ‘mailing list’ for gig updates, give you access to music you can buy as ringtones, let you buy tickets there and then using e-cash, so you just go to the gig and scan your phone at the door to get in. They also use their phones to store Octopus card credit (the multi-use ticket for public transport, used on buses, trams, ferries, MTR etc), and I think you can buy credit online from your phone so you never have to find a ticket office that’s open.

    It’s another world entirely!

  • 4. Sarah S  |  December 23, 2007 at 11:47 am

    MRES,

    Sorry for my late response, and thanks for all the extra info!

    Why have a PC AND a games console? Why have a gaming PC? Why not just have the console BE your PC and media centre all in one box?

    Yes, good point!!

    They also use their phones to store Octopus card credit (the multi-use ticket for public transport, used on buses, trams, ferries, MTR etc), and I think you can buy credit online from your phone so you never have to find a ticket office that’s open.

    That would be really helpful, wouldn’t it?

    (And I love how in HK they have the Octopus card and in Great Britain they use an Oyster card for the underground.) We need better names here 🙂

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