Cell phones have been a big part of life in Japan ever since they went mainstream in the mid 1990s, and for years the newest features such as phone cameras got their start here. Now cell phone usage is nearly 100%, and many Japanese find their keitai so convenient in their daily lives they don’t bother owning a computer. When the iPhone was released here it got off to a slow start, since Japanese consumers really love their stylish clamshell phones with hard numeric keypads. Perhaps because a quirk of the Japanese language is that it’s very easy to enter text using a numeric keypad, unlike in English.
The iPhone’s popularity grew as people saw the amazing things you could do with them thanks to new apps. One of the more unique ideas Japanese developers have come up with are applications to assist with konkatsu, a word for any activity busy people undertake to help find someone to marry (it translates as “marriage activities” though “spouse hunting” might be more accurate). You can download apps like Konkatsu Pia which asks your interests then tracks where you are by GPS. When someone their algorithm thinks you’d be compatible with is nearby, the iPhone will beep to get your attention. If you approach the person, the uplifting theme from Love Story plays out of your phone.
A new use for the iPhone is GPS-enabled “spouse hunting.”