While the iPod took three years to break into the Japanese market, the iPod Shuffle has quickly exploded onto the scene. At least in Tokyo, everyone aged 18 to 30 is dangling the little white trinket from their necks like an ID pass to Coolsville (Population: You). Rumors have it that Apple designed the iPod Shuffle specifically for Japanese consumers, but regardless, the success of the Shuffle over the regular tank iPod seems to prove the following points about Japanese consumers, which mostly contradict the “common” understanding of Japanese buying behavior:
A) Japanese consumers are lo-tech. Without a life spent in front of the computer downloading songs nor a concrete knowledge of “firewire,” there’s not much need for an iPod. The Shuffle is all about loving USB and owning no digital musical files.
B) Japanese consumers are price-sensitive. In the past, the golden rule of Japanese buyer behavior was “design/style/quality over price,” but that’s only because they were rich. Now ¥10,980 is about all your going to milk out of a poor freeter.
C) Japanese consumers want conspicuous gadgets and trinkets. Okay, we knew this already, but if a Japanese consumer can’t show their item off, they’re not going to buy it. The iPod stays in a protective pouch in a bag; the Shuffle sits on your chest, waiting to be adored.
D) Japanese consumers don’t like music. You heard me. They like the idea of music and the act of listening to music, but apart from music nerds, the Japanese don’t love music and define their entire individuality on their monthly ironic intake of E.L.O. albums. For the music fanatic, the iPod offers complete control of musical background — set to coincide with specific environmental and personal factors. The Shuffle is for people who don’t care about what they’re listening to as long as they’re listening.