Mobile Phones As A Way Of Life In Japan

from the extension-of-self dept

That the Japanese have have adopted mobile phones much faster than the US is no surprise. For years, people have been looking to Japan to see “what’s coming next” in mobile phones (though, some suggest that South Korea is a much better example). A few years ago, before text messaging was used in the US, there were stories everywhere about how popular it was in Japan. Now that it’s catching on in the US, people are looking at Japan again to see what they’re doing, and what might be coming next to the US. The article paints a picture of a society where mobile phones are more than just a tool, but have become “a way of life” or an virtual extension of its owner. Many Japanese use their mobile phones in the same way that others use laptop computers, finding it easier to just use the mobile phone instead. Some are apparently worried that people are talking less and are less aware of the outside world around them, preferring to focus all their attention into the world at their thumb tips – though, this feels like the typical reaction people often have to new technologies (it’s the same way some people initially reacted to the internet in general). The article also quotes some in Japan who dispute the notion that the Japanese experience is abnormal, and saying the only reason it hasn’t gone this far in the US is that US wireless carriers have screwed up. Of course, as with any such article (especially coming from such a mainstream news source), this one simplifies a lot of the factors, both in Japan and elsewhere, that have helped drive mobile phone use in Japan, but is still an interesting read.

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Comments on “Mobile Phones As A Way Of Life In Japan”

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dorpus says:

The bigger picture

For many people on this forum who are too young to remember, widespread cell phone usage in Japan was something that happened only in the mid-1990s. Until then, the Japanese were far behind the USA; only the very wealthy could afford them, and they had to get special licenses. The Japanese used to argue that cell phones went against the grain of their “face-to-face” culture; that the USA’s crime and social problems were rooted in technologies such as cell phones and the internet. The USA put pressure on the Japanese to deregulate their telecomm industry. The politically powerful state-owned phone company, NTT, refused to relent on land lines, but a compromise was forged by which cell phone companies were left up to private-sector companies. (NTT still has a monopoly on land-line telephones, which cost $800 to set up a line, and takes a few months.)

Cell phones are popular now because most people are afraid of real computers. The notion of using the web to buy things, do research, is still alien to most Japanese. Their cell phones have an “i-mode” which amounts to a glorified touch-tone system, where you can order a few things that are advertised on billboards.

xman says:

Re: The bigger picture

The first bit is right, but the second is typical dorpus crap. i-mode is a rather better version of WAP and works extrememly well as a way of getting web content on to limited devices. Of course as the pwoer in the phone increases the need for it goes away as the ability to render HTML becomes easier. Cell phones are popular a) because they are much cheaper than land lines and easier to get and b) because they are small and easy to carry around. It is nothing to do with fear of computers at all.

shin says:

Mobile Phone in Japan

Comment from Japan,That’s point mobile in Japan is most exiting biz not only in the field of finance, new technology but also teenager’s gadget and short-music download service (Truetone). To be amazed you can see everywhere people talking mobile Phone in the time of waiting or sitting. The scene like that be seen not only in Tokyo every city in Japan, Kyoto, Osakan, Hiroshima. It’s almost infectious disease. Once you step Into the Starbucks, You’d feel leaving behind because beside coffee or tea on the tables there IS Mobile Phone to be prepared.(prepare what? ASAP get the phone) Don’t mind lose a warret, do not forgottn Mobile Phone never in Japan.

dorpus says:

Re: Mobile Phone in Japan

Yup, teen girls are avid users of mobile phones, especially the Enjo Kosai types (teen girls who offer “subsidized relationships”). You’ve got lots of white star trekkie types panting after them. Americans are under the impression that Japanese are hard workers, but that stereotype is at least ten years outdated. Young people today just care about partying and dressing up, if you imagine the worst sluts you might meet at a community college here. U.S. graduate schools are full of Chinese and Indian students, but no Japanese.

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