Japanese Flip Phone Strikes Again

Got picked up on or as we say, ‘nanpa’ in Japanese. He was charming and confident – rare for a Japanese guy. Was about to exchange info when he pulled out his…

…flip phone (๑°⌓°๑)

Flip phones in 2015 because Japan!
So I gave him my NY number ;)
Hahaha

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Flip-phones: Only in Japan

People who live outside of Japan find it hard to believe when I tell them: YES, Japanese people still use flip-phones. And YES, they reside in Tokyo.

Flip-phone sightings happen daily but since I get asked the same questions a lot, I finally took photographic evidence.

This particular young gentleman was in his late to early 30’s, working on his Macbook Pro. He caught my eye because his Pro was up and running with connection, owned an iPhone (see photographic proof *points below)…

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…yet he chose to e-mail from his dinosaur flip-phone.

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I wish I was slick enough to take photos of him navigating the iPhone… he was like a 65 year old man using an iPad for the first time. He held his iPhone upwards, tightly gripped with his left hand. And he was typing with one finger — his right pointer finger to be precise — but the gestures OMG. He was basically stabbing the iPhone screen, tapping the screen so hard he had to grip with his left harder and harder. So exhausting to watch… and his poor, poor phone. I almost wanted to place him under Citizen’s Arrest for device abuse.

Anyway — this is only one of the many reasons I choose to be in Asia. Mobile habits and usage are similar to those of the US in 2007-08ish when consumer Internet just started getting disrupted.

Exciting times.

LINE 101

TC just reported that LINE’s revenues have doubled YoY to $192m USD in Q3 2014. And just like that, LINE is back in the news again.

Since I seem to repeat the same answers to the same questions about LINE over and over, here is what I wrote in 2013 for TNW. The piece is about messaging apps but I  go over all the basics of LINE. From history to adoption, features, business model, etc., this should cover any and all questions so it’s really, really, really long.

Enjoy — and feel free to ask any questions in the comments.


 

Line’s rise in Japan

Take the Line story, for example. Line, wasn’t an overnight success and there is good reason for that. Line’s biggest marketshare is in Japan. Japan’s smartphone market really began growing in 2011 — some four years after the US — and analysts have found a near-150 percent rise in smartphone adoption between 2011 and 2013.

Of the 127 million people in Japan, smartphone ownership finally passed 50 million users in August, but things are developing rapidly. Japan overtook the US as the biggest spenders on apps only this week, and the market is potentially hugely lucrative for makers of popular apps.

idc japan 520x279 Silicon Valley, you are tardy to the messaging app party

This market shift also affected Japan’s text-based communication.

Text-based communication in Japan is very different from the US and other parts of the world. Japanese telecoms have advanced emailing systems, where carrier-issued email addresses are attached to every mobile number. The email system functionally operates like SMS: simple, free and unlimited. SMS in Japan is charged per text, so before mass market smartphone adoption, text communication was done by keitai meru (cell phone mail).

With the rise of smartphones, apps quickly became popular. As users got used to beautiful, gesture-based UIs, text-based cell phone email no longer fulfilled their needs. That’s when Line started gaining serious traction. People go where their friends are and Line happened to be in the right place, at the right time.

Line changed Japanese mobile communication.

And it’s easy to see why people quickly adopted Line. An Internet connection gives users free unlimited voice calls, unlimited free messaging, unlimited instant photo sharing, group chats and video communication. The interface is cute and Line is very easy to use, but, most importantly, it offered a solution to the ‘pay for all and everything’ Japanese telecom model — and Line disrupted the Japanese mobile industry.

line 300m 730x588 Silicon Valley, you are tardy to the messaging app party

Continue reading

Someone Disrupt Japan Please

I randomly watch this Call Me Maybe Chatroulette video when I recall it, because it never fails to make me laugh.

Today I needed to escape from all the Apple news and was happily watching it, dancing away, and noticed on the recommendation side tab, another Call Me Maybe parody from a super popular Japanese pop idol, Rola.

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That’s Rola – she’s cute, pretty, and super funny. I’m a fan. So I clicked on the video of her lip synching to ‘Call Me Maybe’ and laughed out loud. Universal Music Japan (her label I guess), put the video up. I mean, it’s a lip synching video, what the hell, why couldn’t she put it up herself?

There are so many other ‘Call Me Maybe’ lip synching renditions by famous people like the Bieber+Selena Gomez+Ashley Tinsdale or the one by The Roots and Fallon — uploaded on YouTube not by their labels.

Japanese companies strong hold content so much, there are close to zero streaming services. Almost the entire population has no idea what Spotify, Netflix, or Hulu are. It’s really quite sad.

Looking forward to the day all this changes. Perhaps in another 10-15 years LOL
Oh, Japan.

 

Example Mindset of a Sexist Society

It’s bad manners to put someone on blast but this is just too much.
Over on Facebook, there is a discussion going on about Japanese politics, our Prime Minister Abe and this feminist movement he is attempting to push. One of the commenters was so far out there, I just had to document.

Take a look:

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This part is the most peculiar:

Why women would desire to enter the rat race of capitalism is beyond me, but many men are also duped by the compulsion to maximize filthy lucre as their narrowly conceived contribution to society.

So, as far as I’m concerned, Japanese society is not hurting for its unwillingness to put women in the front lines.

Wow. Just… wow.

This is the type of mindset sexism breeds. Until moving to Japan, I had no idea. I am so fortunate to have been raised in the US, where this type of thinking and ignorance are rare.

This is also the reason it is so important to keep fighting for equality and diversity, no matter gender or race.

Absolutely incredible. And frankly, a bit sad. No wonder this guy chooses to live in Japan. God.
Note to self. Companies to avoid:

 

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This was my Tweet in response to the article by the way:

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…and for a more personal experience, you can read on here.

 

 

43.3% of Japanese use LINE Professionally, 29.6% use Facebook

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Wow — I knew messaging apps are huge in Japan but it still astounds me to see numbers.
43.3% of those in the sample pool use LINE professionally.
29.6% use Facebook as a professional communication tool.

Skype is 12%
KakaoTalk 6.1%
Followed by LinkedIn, Viber, communicator.

I guess as Hiroko Tabuchi of the NYT reported: “It’s just easier when a bear says it.”
*above stats provided by MMD — a Mobile Marketing Data Labo, a research company in Japan.

Japan App Store Rapid Growth

Startling facts:

  • Japan app store is expanding faster than expected, especially for apps outside the top 3-5.
  • by Mar 2015, a #10 ranked game will earn ¥1.7bn/m, which is the same as #2 earned in Nov 2013

 

State of mobile in Japan:

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 4.13.16 PM

 

 

  • Japan has 10x the USA’s population density, used to spending with carrier (payment) settlement since the 90’s (with iMode)
  • over 30% of households are one-person == spend more on entertainment vs family

Innovation has come to a halt in Japan and indeed on the surface it may seem that way as Japan has always been known for their hardware: Sony and Nintendo the two leaders at the helm.

However the Japanese people are still spending and looking to spend. They are the users and ultimately, paying customers, even if Japanese companies like Sony and Nintendo fail to deliver ‘innovation’.

Isn’t spend more important than who or what is actually delivering?

When I see figures like these:

non-Japanese companies listed in Japan
1991 = 127
2014 =  21

I can’t help but to be baffled. I get the allure of the BRIC countries but China and India are such unique markets with distinct ecosystems. Why wouldn’t a company want to come to a country with consumers who are looking to spend?

One thing is for sure — like I keep repeating — the world is not going to know what hit them when Japan’s smartphone market finally matures and the numbers that will come out of this country will blow people’s minds.

There is still massive opportunity in this country and one of the biggest reasons I am here.

*above from Japan/Korea Market and Japan App Store Macquarie Research reports unavailable to public.
Listed companies in Japan via The FT