GW-318 -- The Hottest Gizmos and Gadgets from Japan

Japan Inc Magazine Presents:

The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 318 Friday October 24, 2008
Subscribers: 9467

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Softbank Mobile 830SH s targets senior market

Name: Softbank Mobile 830SH s
Category: mobile phone
Price: Open
Release date in Japan: October 25, 2008

According to a government study at the end of 2007, 60% of
Japanese in their late 60s use a mobile phone; over 30% of those
in their 70s do so. (By comparison, in late 2003 only 22% of
Docomo customers were over 50.) As the mobile-equipped senior
market grows, phone manufacturers are striving to mix
senior-friendly features with colorful 'young' designs.

The 3G 830SH s from Sharp and Softbank is another entry in the
category of 'easy to use' mobile phones aimed at 'adult users' -
industry terminology for seniors. The third in the GENT series,
the phone has 'Arc Ridge Keys' with large symbols and
easy-to-push curved shape, plus a 2.4-inch, 260,000-color QVGA
(240x320) LCD screen with Sharp's ASV technology. That's
Advanced Super View, which Sharp says creates a wider viewing
angle from all directions, as well as greater contrast and
brightness. That plus anti-glare 'Reflect Barrier Coating' make
for easy visibility even in bright sunlight.

Included is a trial version of Professor Kawashima's 'Brain
Training' software, one of the puzzle and memory drill programs
especially popular among the older set. Even the main font used
in screens is designed for easier reading, says Softbank. The
company is also playing up a dedicated button for the built-in
Japanese and EJ dictionaries.

The phone has a 2-million megapixel camera and comes in Natural
Brown, Warm Pink, Deep Green, and Matte Silver.

More info (Japanese):

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Kitty lends her head to 7-inch DVD player

Name: Hello Kitty Face-Shaped DVD Player
Category: DVD player
Price: JPY31,500
Release date in Japan: October 16, 2008

No gadget category stands untouched for long before Kitty
muscles in on the action. This time, her famed head forms the
screen of the 7-inch portable 'Hello Kitty Face-Shaped DVD
Player', an entry in the 'Original Kaden' (orginal appliances)
series from Sanrio. Switch it on, and Kitty and her twin sister
Mimmy entertain you on the screen until it's time to view DVDs,
at which time Kitty's good to go with most DVD media including
CPRM-protected discs.

Kitty offers 2.5 hours of play after a 3.5-hour recharge, ships
with a remote control, and weighs 890 grams. She'll only take
Region 2 discs (drat those finicky cats!), so stock up on local
DVDs when you pick up Kitty at a department store or Sanrio shop
in Japan.

More info (Japanese):
Other recent DVD players (English):


Sales rankings reveal Japanese buyers' gadget color preferences

Compact digital cameras ('kondeji') have long graduated from a
two-way choice of colors (silver or black). With a wide palette
of colors available, what hues do Japanese buyers prefer?

Business Computing News ran that question through its database
of retail data, looking at all available manufacturers' kondeji
sales data for the year ending in September. Not surprisingly,
silver and black still rule the roost, at about 41% and 19% of
units, respectively. But those colors may be coasting on
tradition; BCN found that pink and gold, heavily marketed toward
females, rose steeply over the year to a respective 14% and 7%
of unit sales.

Models like the Panasonic DMC-FX37-P, Casio EX-Z300PK, and
Olympus mu 1060(PNK) snap up big portions of the pink market,
while products like the Casio EX-Z100GD, Canon IXYD920IS(GL),
and Casio EX-Z200GD grab the gold. For the silver, the Olympus
FE-320, Canon IXYD25IS(sL), and Olympus mu 1060(SLV) sell the
most units. The Canon IXYD25IS(BK), Canon IXYD910IS, and
Fujifilm FX-F100FDDB were the favorites of black-camera

Popular for fall 2008, though not yet making the charts, are
cameras in natural tones like plum, raspberry, wine red, and
brown. Ask BCN next year whether those earthy hues have taken
another chunk out of black and silver.

For another look at color preferences, BCN turned its attention
to the brightly-hued 4th-generation iPod nanos. From a palette
of silver, black, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, and pink,
what's grabbing Japanese buyers' yen?

Surveying JPY17,800 8GB models and leaving out the special
direct-sales '(PRODUCT) RED' model, BCN again hands the crown to
black and silver, followed in order by pink, blue, purple,
orange, green, and yellow. (Sorry, percentage breakdowns aren't
available.) BCN expressed surprise at the win by black, given
the iPod's strong association with white. But the lack of a
white nano and a love of matte black by male buyers put the
non-color on top, says BCN, which also surmises that silver
scores high as a surrogate for white and as a match for the look
of Apple's computers.

Pink was introduced in the previous generation of nanos, and,
ranking high with female buyers then, has been carried over to
the new line. Blue does well with color aficionados of both
genders. Purple wins among the remaining new colors. Orange does
very well at some retailers, not so well at others, says BCN;
green shows hope with its 'eco' associations; and yellow, while
bringing up the rear, still ranked a very impressive #33 among
684 audio player models tracked by BCN.

Speaking of other audio players (and going off the color topic),
one often hears the meme overseas that Japan's electronics
market is a near-impenetrable fortress from the viewpoint of
foreign manufacturers, who are lucky to sell even a few scant
units in Japan. The iPod is one of many examples showing that to
be untrue. In BCN's tracking of retail audio player sales during
the week of October 13-19, individual iPod models (broken down
by color and memory size) took the top 14 sales ranks, with the
Toshiba Gigabeat T401S Black finally breaking the i-monotony at
#15. Then it's mostly more iPods again for a while. The same for
the month of September: iPods on top, that Toshiba at #12, and
then another run of iPods.

Don't listen to the naysayers, foreign manufacturers: bring a
good product, and the Japanese electronics market can be yours.

More info (Japanese):


Short items

Spotted elsewhere in the news:

1) If you like keeping up on robot news, Japanese video-sharing
site Zoome has brought related videos and news links together on
the new 'Robo Channel', a specialty portal for user-submitted
videos of robots doing everything and anything. The site
promises to offer plenty of videos on the goings-on at ROBO
Japan 2008 (October 11-13).
Robo Channel (Japanese):
ROBO Japan 2008 (Japanese):

2) Office workers! RISO and Olympus are warming up the world's
fastest office photocopier, the ORPHIS X9050. It'll spit out 150
copies per minute, or 2.5 per second - fast enough for you?
JPY4.3 million from February 2009.
More info (Japanese):

3) The gadget world is full of 'why didn't I think of that?'
discoveries - and some 'why is anyone thinking of that?' finds
as well. From November, Marubeni Infotech would like to sell you
the patent-pending CMFC-001 'Fragrance Case for Earphone'. It's
a little round aluminum button that you pop open, fill with
fragrance-scented cotton, and snap onto the 'Y' portion of your
earphones. Whereupon it acts as an earphone accessory that emits
pretty smells. Harmless enough, true, but still... Anyway,
designed by CEMENT Design, it comes in white, pink, or black and
costs JPY2980.
More info (Japanese):

Start a Company in Japan

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 25th of Oct, 2008

If you have been considering setting up your own company,
find out what it takes to make it successful.
Terrie Lloyd, founder of over 13 start-up companies in Japan,
will be giving an English-language seminar and Q and A on
starting up a company in Japan.
This is an ideal opportunity to find out what is involved,
and to ask specific questions that are not normally answered
in business books.
All materials are in English and are Japan-focused.

For more details:


Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo Seminar-Tuesday, November 4th

Speaker: Mr. Ricco DeBlank, General Manager of
The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo and The Park Residences

Seminar Title: 'Passion to Serve'

Are you interested in improving your customer service?
If so, then don't miss EA-Tokyo's November seminar with
Ritz-Carlton's service expert, Ricco DeBlank.

Hailing from the Netherlands, DeBlank joined The Ritz-Carlton
Hotel Company in 1995 and since then, has worked in Bali,
Indonesia, Shanghai, China and Seoul, Korea as a director
of human resources.

He served as the General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton,
Sharm el-Sheikh after a stint as Executive Assistant Manager,
Rooms in Hong Kong. In 2003, he arrived in Japan as General
Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka and established the hotel as
the city' finest both in Japan and around the world.

Mr. DeBlank was appointed General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton,
Tokyo for its opening in 2007.

Please sign up early while seats are available.

Date/Time: Tuesday, November 4th 7:00 pm
Location: Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
Language: English


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Written by: Timm Tuttle
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