My high school entrance gift to my son was to get him an iPhone 4, so the other day we went down to the Softbank store together. Cell phones have become incredibly important to all of us, but in Japan, where many people lack technical skills we generally take for granted such as being able to use spreadsheet software on a PC, they’re indispensable. It’s a tumultuous time for the Japanese cell phone industry as companies are forced to change their business models due to pressure from the outside. Everyone was sure the iPhone would be a flop in Japan, a country where people loved clamshell phones with numeric keypads that allowed them to type in Japanese faster than they could with a QWERTY keyboard. But the usefulness of the iPhone slowly changed their minds, and now you see them everywhere in Tokyo. Android is also starting to take off, thanks to KDDI marketing the platform with Lady Gaga and the handsome boy-band Arashi. While modern smartphones are awesome, I still like checking the rows of regular phones to see what new gimmicks manufacturers have thought up. Some of the current ones include phones with high quality digital cameras built into them, easy-to-use GPS phones for children or the elderly, and Sony Bravia® or Sharp Aquos® phones for people who want to carry the same brand of cell phone as the TV in their living room for some reason.
Cell phones are extremely important to the Japanese.