The Second Digital Divide in Japanese Society

archive6

There is a very interesting article in Facta Online about the “Second Digital Divide.” Among 20 year-olds in Japan, there is a serious split between those who access the net via personal computers and those who access (a proprietary and limited version of) the net via mobile phones. And as a result, the number of young people using the internet from computers has seriously fallen in the recent years.

This graph shows the breakdown of demographic usage of the internet. Over the last six years, almost all age groups have seen their share of total home PC access usage increase — except for 20 year-olds who have dropped from making up 23.6% to now only 11.9%. This current rate means that they make up an almost identical proportion of the total as 50 year-olds. Now some of this may be demographic (there are less young people), but the drop in usage share here is much stronger and more sudden than the decrease in demographic share.

There is a socioeconomic element behind this change. PCs in Japan are essentially a “white collar” tool, and freeter/blue collar workers use the keitai as their access to the internet. With many in their 20s failing to get into the extremely narrow door to a white collar career, PC usage experience may be dropping in parallel. (We also don’t know how many white collar workers in their 20s are doing their net surfing at the office and have no interest at looking at a computer screen once they get home.)

Internet browsing capabilities on Japanese cell phones are getting better all the time, but clearly, there is a difference in technological progression on phones and computers. In terms of speed and screen quality, top-of-the-line mobile phones can finally do what a cheap computer has been able to do for years. The keitai will be stuck with a relatively tiny screen for a long time. The larger the screen gets, the more the phone will fail on the functional level of being a small object inserted into the pocket. Limitations on screen size, typing speed, and connection speed have led to a much more passive interaction with information compared to the consumers using a PC.

The author does not want us to blindly praise the “Mobile Wonderland” of Japan as a high-tech paradise. The rise of keitai has come at the expense of PC culture, rather than acted as an augmentation. The “thumb tribe” (親指族) — who primarily input text through the telephone numerical layout — show serious inexperience with using PCs and with typing on a real keyboard. They are “retrogressing” to a point where they have the pathetic PC skills of their out-of-date elders.

Apparently there have been 5700 recorded cases all across Japan of confused cell-phone users thinking that the number “110” included in the error message “We could not send your mail (110)” is a telephone number. The police — located at 110 on the telephone dial — are not amused. The author argues that PC users may not inherently understand error codes, but would not have believed that such a number was there to be called.

For a long time, technological progression was the story of standalone gadgets. Thanks to YouTube, Google, Flickr, Ebay, Mixi, and iTunes, this is no longer the case. Keitai can let you access the internet, but can only rarely let you experience the march of innovation in real time. The mobile phone acted as a nice patch to the gaping hole of weak internet usage in Japan at the turn of the century, but it will be interesting to see how long the device can really do the job and whether or not it caused more long-term problems than it aimed to solve. Beta may have been the future of video, but it quickly became history once the rest of the world jumped on the VHS bandwagon.

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

52 Responses

  1. Adamu Says:

    Wow, FACTA has a really nice site.

    Ironically it’s unlikely that many cell phone users will be able to read this article to learn what they are missing out on by not using a PC!

  2. Gen Kanai Says:

    This is depressing.

    Japanese youth ought to be at the forefront of technology, not regressing. Mobile is still the realm of walled gardens, not the open platform (not really open except in the case of Linux) that the PC represents.

    We’re not going to see any programming prodigies come out of the oyayubizoku.

  3. marxy Says:

    “Japanese youth ought to be at the forefront of technology”

    My first impression is, maybe Japanese youth are doing what they have always been doing – buying the latest gadgets – but gadgets no longer matter. There has never been much proficiency with making or using software in Japan, but now the innovation is all software and web-applications. Gadgets and hardware are only a single sliver of technological progression instead of the main event.

    “Mobile is still the realm of walled gardens, not the open platform”

    Not even in terms of programming – when you have a PC, your functional uses are almost unlimited. You can keep adding on functions and content. With phones, you start with what is provided with you and can barely increase your options. You just have to buy a new phone.

  4. James Says:

    That age group might be lost, but hopefully the under-19 group will continue to use PC’s for net access when they get older…

  5. john Says:

    There is a push by programmers of web applications to try and make whatever you use accessible by any type of device (cell phone, screen reading software for the visually impared). Those who use cell phones for the internet do not need to adapt to the norms of what capable computers can do while browsing the internet.

    It is the content providers (and cellular network providers) who must bow to what cell phone users want to do.

    So you design for a tiny screen, assume the user cannot see any images or CSS. Pretend that the browser does not understand Javascript or Flash.

    The question is, do many internet services still have value and usage after being stripped of these fancy doodads? Some do (Gmail, web blogs), some don’t (youtube, video on mobiles in general kind of old). In the case of “don’t”, that’s where the mobile technology has to catch up, if there’s demand.

  6. Gen Kanai Says:

    The other thing that is depressing about this survey is that it covers 5 years and there’s no growth in any segment over 5% in 5 years.

  7. Liam McNulty Says:

    Interesting article. However:

    “The keitai will always be stuck with a relatively tiny screen. The larger the screen gets, the more the phone will fail on the functional level of being a small object inserted into the pocket. Limitations on screen size, typing speed, and connection speed have led to a much more passive interaction with information compared to the consumers using a PC.”

    I don’t really agree with this part and similar statements peppering the article. First and foremost, huge strides are being made in projection technologies such that phones down the road may be able to have much larger “screens” despite remaining as portable as they are today. It’s still a while down the road, obviously, but I don’t know if I’d use the word “always.” The same can be said for electronic paper and flexible displays; Seiko, Fujitsu, Sony, Philips, and other consumer electronics outfits haven’t given up.

    But ultimately I think the argument itself (that is, these 20-somethings are somehow “missing out” by using PCs for net access) is one that is flawed. Obviously there are a lot of websites that they can’t use from their mobile phone, but as you mentioned, that reality is changing rapidly. Also think about the very *reason* you access the internet your PC. Email? Checking on some blogs? Writing for your blog? Skype? Extensive research? Creating a PowerPoint to send to some client? There are certainly a lot of places where PCs have keitai beaten, and they probably always will, but keitai don’t even intend to serve the same purpose. Some of the functionality is mimicked, sure, but mobile phones in Japan still intend to serve as a “personal gateway.” Or at least that’s KDDI’s philosophy for the future of au. Phones from the US and Europe may be playing cat-and-mouse with PC functionality (see: Apple’s iPhone and the explosive success of smartphones in general), but Japanese providers have always made a big, big distinction between the functionality offered by mobile phones and that of PCs. It’s the partnerships that the big providers make, the technology they integrate, and their rapid implementation of new services that make them stand out. Rather than watching the world of PCs and asking “hey, how can we get that on a mobile phone??,” the Japanese providers seem genuinely concerned about getting *unique* services to their customers. So they instead ask themselves “hey, what can we add to a mobile phone to make it better? nevermind PCs.”

    To say that these people miss some sort of hands-on experience with PCs because of extensive use of the keitai for communication purposes is, well, pretty bold. Look at the trends — do these people even WANT to know how to use PCs? So they don’t know how to edit a Master Slide Layout… so what?

    The point is, if a keitai alone meets their needs now (be it for communication, internet access, whatever), I don’t see how it’s the fault of the keitai when a lack of functionality bites the user in the ass. If they’re the kind of person that may one day end up in a white-collar position where they will need to know how to type 90WPM and perform MySQL database administration via some console, I don’t see how a keitai is in any way responsible for their lack of preparation. The person is responsible. PCs and related education isn’t lacking in Japan; if a person decides their skills aren’t sufficient, and they can afford a mobile phone, they certainly have the capability to brush up on these skills that will supposedly be necessary for success. Maybe I’m blaming the victim, but that’s how things seem to me.

    Likewise, the argument misses out on the sort of “career value” added by mobile phones. If I can type just as fast on a mobile phone keyboard as I can on a real keyboard — ATOK/APOT and T9 predictive text have come a long way — wouldn’t that be to my benefit? If I spend all my time using PCs and don’t know the first thing about transmitting my phone contact info via IR, am I not missing out on potential career skills?

  8. marxy Says:

    Thanks for that post.

    “the Japanese providers seem genuinely concerned about getting *unique* services to their customers.”

    The more cynical side of me thinks, “The Japanese providers seem genuinely concerned about getting *proprietary* and *billable* services to their customers.”

    “The point is, if a keitai alone meets their needs now, I don’t see how it’s the fault of the keitai when a lack of functionality bites the user in the ass.”

    This is a good point. Japan has one of the lowest rates of childrens’ educational experiences with PC in the world, so there is a reason why many may not flock to computers as they get older.

    Since mobile tech is not my field, maybe someone can answer this question for me: how much of “advanced Japanese mobile tech” is sold by the companies to other nations? I know that American phone companies all seem to use (old) Korean phones, etc. Are Japanese companies able to at least capitalize on the advances in their unique mobile-only market?

  9. Gen Kanai Says:

    “If I spend all my time using PCs and don’t know the first thing about transmitting my phone contact info via IR, am I not missing out on potential career skills?”

    Huh? People in Japan use business cards. Friends may exchange information via IR, but as a “career skill” the paper business card is here to stay.

  10. Gen Kanai Says:

    “how much of ‘advanced Japanese mobile tech'” is sold by the companies to other nations? I know that American phone companies all seem to use (old) Korean phones, etc. Are Japanese companies able to at least capitalize on the advances in their unique mobile-only market?”

    NTT DoCoMo has tried to sell their technology overseas but has basically failed. DoCoMo as a platform, has not taken off anywhere except in Japan. AU uses Qualcomm’s CDMA technology.

    I would say that Japanese companies have NOT capitalized from the advances in the Japanese market. Japanese users are different enough from users elsewhere that lessons learned in Japan are rarely useful elsewhere. Witness Nokia’s dominance in the EU and their utter failure in Japan. Witness the rising popularity of qwerty keyboards on smart phones outside of Japan. For the vast majority of Japanese, a T-9 keypad is faster for Japanese language input.

  11. Liam McNulty Says:

    marxy, yeah, I didn’t say they can’t make money from it. It’s taken DoCoMo quite a few years and several percentage points of market share, but they’re starting to realize this.

    Maybe that wasn’t the best example, Mr. Kanai. I just meant to say that the position taken by the author of the FACTA article, implying that extensive use of only a mobile phone does little to prepare someone for the white collar business world, is sort of goofy considering the role mobile phones play in personal interactions in Japan.

    As for proliferation of Japanese mobile phone technology throughout the world, that’s unfortuantely above my head as well. Many of the Japanese handset manufacturers sell products in foreign markets, but it’s rare to see the exact same handset ported for overseas use (I think Toshiba is the only company that does this). So you’d need to look at a deeper level, like licensing the technologies, and/or further up the supply chain to the OEMs.

  12. michael Says:

    marxy-san,

    off topic, but i came across your magazine article today, across the pacific here in silicon valley.
    very cool to read…

    michael

  13. Carl Says:

    I wonder if the iPhone will be able to bridge the gap between keitai and PasoKon…

    Of course, don’t expect Apple to launch in Japan until 2008 or 9 at the earliest.

  14. marxy Says:

    “off topic, but i came across your magazine article today, across the pacific here in silicon valley. ”

    Which one?

    “I wonder if the iPhone will be able to bridge the gap between keitai and PasoKon…”

    Something eventually will do it and make this whole discussion obsolete.

  15. michael Says:

    “off topic, but i came across your magazine article today, across the pacific here in silicon valley. ”

    Which one?”

    sorry, the nylon mag one on Kiiiiiii (that’s seven i’s). are there other ones i could check out on these shores?

    michael

  16. Momus Says:

    One limitation in the discussion so far is that there’s an assumption that desktops are and will always be the “bourgeoisie” of the computer world, and keitais the “proletariat”. (I’m merely drawing out your digital divide metaphor here, which is a class model.) The bourgeois computer is one which can alter society by using its professional qualifications to get into the code and change it. The keitai is unable to do this — all it can do is consume or not-consume what’s already there.

    In fact, desktop computers, if they’re a “class”, are a doomed one. The reason is ubicomp, ubiquitous computing, which I’m going to be cheeky and make you read about in my account in Wired News:

    http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,72598-0.html

    Now, I do raise concerns in that article about how, say, the Ginza ubiquitous computing pilot that happened earlier this year was creating an “environment locked in ROM”. The thing about ubicomp (also known as “everyware”) is that it scatters computers through the real environment. So instead of programming a series of metaphors for real environments (a “desktop”, a “filing cabinet”), when you deal with ubicomp you are reading and writing to real environments themselves. You can make this lamp-post or that escalator “say” something different, a bit like a tagger or a user of Wikipedia. The real world has the potential to become a wiki.

    But this is a little too anarchist for the current developers. To prevent people writing to environments, they’ve developed ucodeQR tags which, unlike normal QR tags, can’t be written to by just anyone. By including digital signatures with the QRcodes, they ensure that the information can be retrieved only when the signature is correct. The authorities therefore keep the environment “locked in ROM” — read-only.

    This is clearly a political question, not a technical one, and NOW is the time to discuss it — while the pilot studies are going on.

  17. der Says:

    a) “ubicomp” is mostly a hype intended to get funding for playing around with cool toys. (It’s also a pretty transparent hype, so it’s surprising that you don’t see through it. Maybe selling your words to Wired clouds your critical facilities.)
    b) ubicomp is not meant to, and will never replace the universal computer. (It might augment it.)
    c) lastly, your use of the term is highly dubious. ubicomp is only very marginally about tags. (It’s about nerds wanting to quote Heidegger and feel clever.)

  18. Momus Says:

    While you’re being cynical, Der, others can actually take this thing seriously enough, at a stage early enough, to change the actual specifications of it by raising exactly the sort of concerns Marxy is raising above.

  19. marxy Says:

    If anyone wants to see how I am “tagging the internet,” check these WTFs:

    http://www.technorati.com/search/michael+jackson

    http://www.technorati.com/search/the+beatles

  20. lenny Says:

    You might want to re-read the original article, and take a closer look at the graph (try adding up the percentages). It does NOT illustrate the rates of usage within each age group, but rather the composition of the internet using population in Japan.

    Although it may be true that the population of 20somethings online has dropped, this is not indicated by the graph. Rather, internet users in the 20~29 age group make up a small percentage than they used to.

    This could arise from factors such as:
    – an increase in uptake in older age groups
    – the “aging” of the early adopters over the course of the 5 years of the survey.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the reality was that ALL groups have seen increased usage, but relatively levels of growth in usage has been much higher in older age groups.

  21. michael Says:

    “But this is a little too anarchist for the current developers. To prevent people writing to environments, they’ve developed ucodeQR tags which, unlike normal QR tags, can’t be written to by just anyone. By including digital signatures with the QRcodes, they ensure that the information can be retrieved only when the signature is correct. The authorities therefore keep the environment “locked in ROM” — read-only.

    This is clearly a political question, not a technical one, and NOW is the time to discuss it — while the pilot studies are going on.”

    this is extremely political indeed–it reminds me of lyotard’s “the postmodern condition” where he talks about “ownership” in the technological future, and all his “free up the data banks” business. very germane stuff for being from 197-whatever-it-was…(1979, i think)…

    michael

  22. marxy Says:

    Lenny – indeed you are correct. I will try to rewrite the article tomorrow.

    If everyone else’s number go up, then it will bite into 20s users. Also, there are less 20 year-olds maybe, but the drop should not be as drastic as the demographic drop.

  23. Chris_B Says:

    Momus, you started out agreeing with my basic premise but then wandered off into la-la land. I’Ve said it before, I’ll say it again, the Internet was held back here until the powers that be (NTT) could serve it up in a way that gave the illusion of freedom to the consuming masses. All you can do on a phone is consume.

    Gen, “Japanese users are different enough from users elsewhere” sounds suspiciously Nihonjinron. I never took you for that type ^_^

    John said “It is the content providers (and cellular network providers) who must bow to what cell phone users want to do…. The question is, do many internet services still have value and usage after being stripped of these fancy doodads?”

    To this I say no and yes respectively. Mobile phone networks are by design closed systems. Sure there are communications standards, but not a one of em is an “open standard” in the way that TCP/IP is. Users have “choice” of which system they consume on and little else. If you want to communicate with a handset, you bow to the carriers, not the other way around.

    As far as value without the flash(y) stuff, I maintain that text has the highest value and images second on the whole. Handsets can consume these things so IMNSHO Internet services are worth consuming on a handset for those who dont know or dont want any better.

    When the “ubicomp” day comes that I can create content and serve content on a handset, then I’ll reconsider my position.

    marxy, if you are saying something along the lines of consumption by handset will be a socially and economically limiting factor in the future of local society, I agree 100%.

  24. alin Says:

    – indeed you are correct. I will try to rewrite the article tomorrow.

    marxy, now it really looks like the CIA or someone is paying you or twisting your arm to do this. (or is it just the superego ? the Google ads ?). or what on earth is pushing you to have to churn up four or five anti-japan stories per week ? putting the already decided on long ago conclusion before processing the raw data ?

    Chris, you’re the rock.

  25. Julián Ortega Martínez Says:

    Excellent post and excellent discussion here.

    Here in South America very few people surf the web via cellphone ’cause is way too expensive. Besides, unfortunately most people use the internet to check their e-mails, instant messaging, some news sites and specific search in Google. That’s all.

    I have been always curious about how’s the situation there in Japan, so this post has been quite useful.

  26. yago Says:

    anyone should just read first the original japanese article before saying anything.

    It’s very well written, a nice piece of criticism that’s quite hard to find in today’s Japan.

    I find it quite weird when I see people accesing mixi from their mobile phones, but I guess not everyone has to be that enthuastic about Web 2.0 and all the neat things a PC can do for you.
    But still, to be content with a mobile phone betrays a lack of curiosity, ambition, or whatever, that feels quite sad. There’s something about these people that invites melancholy. The story of the hair salon girl that has no time, money or place to buy a computer sounds just too true.

    I would guess South Korea is quite different, having more or less the same cellphone technology as Japan.

  27. marxy Says:

    “putting the already decided on long ago conclusion before processing the raw data ?”

    I need to rephrase the way I talk about the statistics, but otherwise, this post is almost a straight copy of the Japanese original.

  28. Mutantfrog Says:

    I’m a bit skeptical of these stats, and if they are true then I’m just confused. It seems like most young people own a music player (ipod etc.) and/or digital camera apart from the low quality ones in their phone- both devices that more or less require a PC to operate.

  29. marxy Says:

    UPDATE – I changed the second paragraph to give an accurate reading of the stats. (Thanks again, Lenny.)

    Mutantfrog – you would think so. You can’s use an ipod without a computer, but maybe you can DL songs straight onto your phone-mp3 player.

  30. Mutantfrog Says:

    Sure, its possible to download songs directly into a phone mp3 player at an exorbitant rate, but I’ve seen very, very few people actually listening to music through their mobile phone- and most of those were the Sony walkman keitai that are still designed for you to transfer songs the same way as a standalone mp3 player.

  31. marxy Says:

    I agree. I see way more iPods than mobile-phone-players.

    I would be inclined to say, maybe the proportion of 20 year-olds in the market was too high originally and it’s settled at a natural rate. But 11.9%!? That seems low.

  32. Mutantfrog Says:

    I just thought of one other factor that hasn’t been mentioned- what about net cafes? I don’t know the methodology of the survey, but the graph says “home PCs.” There are a LOT of net cafes out there, and I have no idea how their usage (which we can probably assume is higher in the young) figures into these statistics.

  33. lenny Says:

    What happened to the link? It seems to have disappeared from your post…

    The original source of the data:
    http://www.netratings.co.jp/New_news/News11072006.htm

    At any rate, I can’t help but think that the real factor behind the drop has very little with keitai, and a lot more to do with the other generations.

    1. From 2000 to 2005, the rather large 段階ジュニア age group shifted from the 25-29 age group into the 30-35 age group. Refer to wikipedia to see the demographic difference.
    http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC#.E5.B9.B4.E9.BD.A2.E6.A7.8B.E6.88.90
    2. The “keitai” connection makes little sense, since one would expect the 10-19 demographic to also be affected, perhaps to an even greater extent since they take up keitai earlier than any prior generation.
    3. keitai/PC usage is not mutually exclusive (obviously)
    4. There has been a strong push from the govt. and NPOs to encourage older age groups to use the internet more.

    All in all, there original source article is alarmingly sensationalist in its angle… disappointing.

  34. Mulboyne Says:

    I think I’m as sceptical as Mutant Frog here. I really wonder about the methodology used to collect this data. It is difficult to imagine the You Tube phenomenon developing as it did if that age group really wasn’t using PCs.

    The use of the terms “PC zoku” and “keitai zoku” almost suggests a PC/Mac kind of dichotomy whereas the two technologies are surely more complementary. In my own unrepresentative experience, I know people who primarily use their keitai for email, casual browsing when bored and accessing Mixi but still drop by a net cafe. If pushed to answer, they would say they use their keitai for internet access.

    Ironically, one of the status symbols of the finance world remains the Blackberry. Certainly, it works in tandem with a work PC network but, broadly speaking, most of the actual work functionality had been available to Japanese office workers via their i-mode phones and incorporated into daily use years before.

  35. Chris_B Says:

    regarding blackberries, american business people have those in addition to a PC so I’m not so sure its directly apropos to this question.

  36. sarmoung Says:

    “Keitai can let you access the internet, but can only rarely let you experience the march of innovation in real time.”

    Surely it’s as much:

    “PCs can let you access the internet, but can only rarely let you experience the march of innovation in real time while marching.”

    I’d very much enjoy having the range of Japanese keitai services (internet and more) here in the UK. Much of my use of the internet could be more usefully undertaken outside the front door.

  37. marxy Says:

    Ummm… Looking at those Wikipedia demographic stats (thanks!), it appears to me that the number of 20 year-olds (16,480,000) is greater than the number of under 19’s that would be using the internet (let’s say 10-19, so 12,821,000), and yet, the under 19 year-olds make up a much larger percent of total internet users at 20.9% versus 20-something’s 11.9%.

    Now, I do think some of the drop is demographic, but 11.9% still seems very, very low compared to their population percent. And the fact that young people in their 20s make up a significant amount of internet users.

    I think without looking at work usage, we may not be able to draw many conclusions, but anecdotally, I do think there is an anti-PC mentality around compared to even say Korea.

  38. marxy Says:

    I do get what you are saying about the larger generation from five years earlier, but again we are talking about a change from 18,574,000 to 16,480,000 – that is much smaller than the drop from 23.6 to 11.9% – even if the 20 year-olds were overrepresented in internet usage in 2000.

  39. Mutantfrog Says:

    “I think without looking at work usage, we may not be able to draw many conclusions, but anecdotally, I do think there is an anti-PC mentality around compared to even say Korea.”

    What do you mean by “even” Korea? Koreans are per capita among the world’s heaviest PC users. They have cable channels devoted to competitive PC gaming for gods sakes!

  40. marxy Says:

    My phrasing was off (good morning!) but I think my point was that Korea is high on PCs but also has some of the world’s most sophisticated cell phones. They do not have to be mutually exclusive, but in Japan, I think there are a lot of users who have never gotten into PCs because they can just do it all on their phones. And they can play games on the game boxes, rather than PCs.

  41. alin Says:

    good morning!) – freudian slip .

    and interestng recent phenomenon is the increasing number of people choosing to acually live in iternet cafes. (like, no other fixed abode). PCs are their sharemates in the capsule.

  42. Mutantfrog Says:

    Games are an important point actually. The vast popularity of PC gaming in Korea is closely linked to the former restrictions on Japanese cultural imports. Throughout the 80s and much of the 90s (not sure on exact dates) Japanese gaming consoles were just not very available in Korea, and so console games had virtually no penetration there for a long time.

  43. marxy Says:

    The other theory I have heard is that Korean parents wouldn’t buy their kids NES’s because they were clearly for games. But computers could be used for studying! So Korean kids could easily trick their parents into buying them computers.

    I forgot about the cultural import ban. That makes sense too.

  44. hum Says:

    The Japanese love small things. Now they are moving toward wearable computers while you are stuck with age-old keyboard and monitor forever.

  45. junior Says:

    “The Japanese love small things. Now they are moving toward wearable computers while you are stuck with age-old keyboard and monitor forever.”

    Wearable computer to me= flying car. Makes for great Momus article and delightful science fiction stories..

    Pipe dreams are fun for everyone, but the Japanese might have trouble building those wearable computers if their economy collapses due to failure to keep up with current international trends in currently useful technologies.

  46. lacadutadegiganti Says:

    Well stated, junior. And God help you if your “wearable computer” (with optional super-cool “cloak of invisibility”) is powered by Sony or Sanyo batteries. Think your survival chances would be better in a Huser condo with a Paloma kerosene heater.

    -la caduta
    -branding like a mofo

  47. Mutantfrog Says:

    Has anyone here actually tried to use any desktop PC software application designed in Japan? It’s all wretched, and often doesn’t work at all. Japanese electronics companies in general are in love with closed systems like game consoles and cell phones, and utterly allergic to open PCs.

  48. alin Says:

    that would theoretically make sense since there seems to be a limit to how much any system can grow here before breaking into a sort of fractral repeat. but then that vj-tokyo-dive , what was it called, was a pretty cool app. post pet was pretty cool too.

  49. marxy Says:

    If you visit the Panasonic center out near Odaiba (Ariake, maybe?), they have a “future house” exhibit, and it’s interesting that nowhere does the Internet play a role in their vision of total connectivity.

  50. Chris_B Says:

    I remember about 3 years ago at some trade show, one of the manufacturers was exhibiting IP enabled appliances. The idea was you could control your fridge or aircon from your keitei. PC’s werent involved at all in the demo.

  51. youngjamesy Says:

    Umm, the question is, is there a correlation between income and internet usage? and: where can i get that data? i know lots of 20 somethings and all of them who arent living at their 実家 are all poor. There seem to be few high paying jobs for 20 somethings in japan especially people in their early 20’s and espescially in the service sector (ie, the salon girl who works all the time and has no time or money for a pc-thats my salon girl, shes awesome and poor) granted there is less need for a pc these days, my keitai email has for all intents and purposes replaced my PC email as a social tool, when i travel its usualy cheaper to use my phones web brower to find out about things (shows clubs etc) than going to a internet cafe (and far less of a hassle) and yes i’ve met people who stay in internet cafe’s, even better are the hosts who sleep at the host club – hype!… this is roughly the same as in america where the working poor stay in effeciency hotels, etc, but in japan with key money and deposits being so high and internet cafes/capsules so cheap i can see it being exacerbated here.

  52. Chris_B Says:

    Of course people living on their own and working in their 20s dont have much money and of course there are few high paying jobs for them. Isnt that pretty much a given most anywhere? Few people that age have skills worth anything anyways.

    The more telling thing is that these youngsters probably grew up without computers and thus dont even have a left over from their high school or college days. If this is the case then it really is a “lost generation” in terms of participating in the Net and in part having a skillset which might make them more employable.

    The counter argument to this is the young man who founded Soft Ether who had a computer in high school, learned to program and now in his 20s runs his own IT company with an actual product. Not only is it an actual product, its a rather interesting, easy to use, practical application built on open standards, quite unusual as a home grown app indeed! Japan needs more of his type in my opinion.