Home > Focus on Japan 2010, iPad > Here We Go Again

Here We Go Again

May 27th, 2010

You’d think people would learn. But no. Here’s yet another article about how another new Apple product, already a hit elsewhere, will fail in Japan. After spending several paragraphs noting the iPhone’s success, the prognostication begins for the iPad, sounding ever so familiar:

However, Japan poses unique challenges that the cool thin slab of 21st Century computing may struggle to overcome.

With popular credit card and train ticket functions unavailable on the iPhone — not to mention connections to pet-feeding machines — many users also carry a Japanese phone made by the likes of overall leader Sharp or Toshiba.

This means they may not contemplate juggling a third, larger device on crammed subway trains, analysts say.

Again with the complete misunderstandings. First, the error of confusing frivolous bells & whistles with ground-breaking hardware and software features. “Pet-feeding machines”? Really?

Second, the idea that people carry iPhones and other cell phones with special features. Not everybody is Steve Wozniak, guys. I have never heard of someone carrying two phones just to cover a wider variety of features like that. And if they did, what would that have to do at all with the iPad, which would be carried in a completely different place? It’s not like people will say, “Oh, my pockets are full, I don’t want to put an extra thing in my bag.”

Third, they appear not to realize what a boon the iPad is for the commute, nor how it will replace even bulkier items. People don’t mind carrying things the size and weight of the iPad on the train–many would (and some do) use laptops, except they are too unwieldily for that venue. The iPad is thinner and lighter than many comic books or magazines that people carry, for crying out loud, and will provide so much more to occupy people’s time. The form is easy to carry and fine for sitting or standing in confined spaces, yet allows for reading, browsing, working, or enjoying music, video, or games, and then some.

Once again, people are just completely missing the whole point, and spouting off about points they clearly know nothing about–all so they can revive the most treasured of all chestnuts, the old “[new Apple product] will probably fail in tech-jaded Japan” canard.

So far, I have seen nothing but vividly enthusiastic interest from people seeing the iPad, even more so than there was before the iPhone came out.

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  1. K. Engels
    May 27th, 2010 at 02:56 | #1

    Well it is hard for a product to succeed in Japan when the country gets leveled my giant monsters on a daily basis. What? You mean Japan isn’t really like that… At least my “analysis” makes more sense than the “reporters”.

  2. Troy
    May 27th, 2010 at 10:58 | #2

    The iPad is actually much more suitable for Japan than the US.

    I really wouldn’t want to pull out my iPad on a bus in the US, given the general economic level of my fellow bus riders.

    Japan doesn’t have this problem at all.

    Plus of course all the wonderful trains in Japan, as you mention. The iPad would make a 2 hr daily commute bearable. Heck, I spend 4hrs a day browsing the internet anyway.

    On a train, I’d certainly rather sit with an iPad for forty minutes than stand for 20 minutes.

  3. matthew
    May 27th, 2010 at 11:27 | #3

    For what it is worth–i know a few people who have both an iphone and a typical japanese cell phone.

  4. Luis
    May 27th, 2010 at 11:37 | #4


    On my new commute, I take only the local trains, those being the ones that go through to being subway trains once they reach the city–so I can usually sit down. On the few occasions when I had to stand, holding the iPad was no problem. I didn’t hold it up in the air in front of my face, but instead rested it against my chest as I looked down to read a book. It was just fine like that.


    Really? I know many people with iPhones, not a one has a regular cell phone. How strange–do they actually have two cell phone accounts, paying two sets of bills? Did they do it for the double set of features, or some other reason? Was it a simultaneous purchase intended to have two phones, or are they overlapping contracts, people who couldn’t wait for the old contract to expire before they got an iPhone? I’m really curious…

  5. matthew
    May 27th, 2010 at 15:15 | #5

    To be honest I never asked them. Will do so next time i see them.

  6. matthew
    May 27th, 2010 at 22:51 | #6

    Luis–this topic got me thinking and I am curious to hear your thoughts.

    Now that the IPad is available (and in your case you are using it) doesn’t this relegate your IPhone to pretty much just a phone? Which are your using more now-pad or phone?

    For example, I have a friend who travels a lot. She loves her docomo phone because she can use it to buy tickets, pay for things, etc…
    For her the ipad would be a great thing to have as she could get all the benefits of an iphone and all the benefits of her docomo phone. Now that the ipad is in japan what reason would she have to get an iphone now?

    I live in the sticks so an iphone is great for me–i dont need the bells as whistles of a docomo phone but I do need the apps and features of an iphone. If I had an ipad, my iphone would pretty much just be a phone.

    I may have written this poorly (tired after a long day) but if I have an ipad my iphone seems less useful beyond its phone funtions.

    lets discuss.


  7. Luis
    May 28th, 2010 at 00:08 | #7


    Excellent question. I certainly use my iPhone less for games and for typing, but there are some things it still does much better, and if you don’t have the 3G model, all the more reason the iPhone is needed. Just today I was with a student scouting computer parts shops in Akihabara for a school club; the iPhone GPS allowed me to locate and bookmark all the best stores on a map for later reference. So, for GPS, that’s a biggie. Texting and email while on the run are big, and I check the weather with the iPhone, as well as take photos–though you may argue that these can be done with most cell phones today. But I use other apps as well–an app to calculate the mileage I get on my scooter, for example–not too easy to just whip out my iPad and run it on that. In fact, any time you need to “whip out” a device to do something on the fly, the iPhone does best there.

    I’d say those are two big deals that I still need the iPhone for: GPS and maps, and for on-the-fly stuff, like shopping lists or checking my calendar or using apps in places where an iPad or laptop aren’t feasible.

    But yes, I do find myself using the iPhone less than before. Then again, I still use my iPhone WAY more than I used to use my old regular cell phone before it.

  8. Luis
    May 28th, 2010 at 00:09 | #8

    That said, one more point: I will admit that the iPad has taken away the urgency I might feel to upgrade my iPhone to the next model.

  9. matthew
    May 28th, 2010 at 01:41 | #9

    Thanks Luis-

    IMHO–i think the ipad will be a success to the detriment of the iphone. If your are going to have two machines the pad will take the place of iphone and that leaves the docomos and AUs trudging merrily on their way. Worldwide I think this is less of an issue but in japan any consumer who spends time thinking about it will opt for the ipad as a mobile computer/app machine and will stick with their present phone. In my current situation and location one iphone serves me better than a pad and a phone.

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