Generation Gap

I am writing to congratulate you on a marvellously succinct and well-written article in the May issue. (See "The Japanese Language Meets the Internet," page 60, May 2000.)

My company (Kobe Digital Labo) provides ecommerce consultancy to a variety of companies -- typically headed by presidents over the age of 60. My younger Japanese colleagues struggle to explain an Internet-related subject without recourse to too much katakana.

I feel that unless something is done to stop the influx of katakana words, a very real gulf in understanding will develop.


Bit Valley Boundaries

As a Tokyo Net company, but not one in the Bit Valley neighborhood, I found the Bit Valley Directory thing a tad overdone. The implication that to be considered a real Net company one has to be located in a certain area, as opposed to other potentially more relevant considerations (revenue, management, et cetera) seems to be the worst of the Japan "me too" complex.

As a major part of the Japanese Net media, wouldn't it be better for you to mention the existence of Net companies that are not within a 15-minute radius of Shibuya station?


Another Bit Valley

In response to the letter "Cheerleading for Bit Valley South" (page 2, March): I attended the Bit River meeting on February 9 at Osaka Castle Hall, and I was very impressed with what I saw. Apparently, the first meeting saw 50 in attendance, and 250 attended the second meeting. At this meeting it was announced that 300 had registered, but I think everyone who registered must have brought another friend or two along.


Being Direct

In response to "As Easy as One, Two, Three?" (page 18, March 2000): 1. Online computer sellers sell at manufacturer's prices, which are typically at a discount compared to Akihabara's. 2. Dell drives 35% to 40% of its revenue over the Web in Japan (more than double what Gateway did last year). 3. Gateway drove $100 million per year in Web-based sales in Japan. 4. The Web contains quite a bit of objective information that can bring a customer to a purchase decision. In Akihabara, you rely on a salesperson whose intentions might solely be driven by commission.


"Quality" Feedback

While "The Convenience Issue" was most interesting, there is one point in Steve Mollman's article, "How Convenient to Be a Konbini," I must take issue with. (Page 17, March 2000.) When writing about Japanese customers buying CDs, he states, "The result is that customers end up paying ¥2,200 or more for CDs." Well, yes and no. All the major retailers like Tower and HMV and Virgin offer chart and other new release CDs at considerably less, often in the region of ¥1,500 to ¥1,800. This may be expensive by US standards, but it's cheaper than CDs in Europe.


Even More Convenience

I was disappointed Steve Mollman didn't mention that game software (PlayStation, DreamCast, et cetera) is also available at convenience stores. In addition to buying new titles, you can reserve new titles months in advance. Convenience stores also offer express delivery services, money terminals, credit card loan services, color copiers, fax machines -- which makes us home-office boys happy. They also sell office supplies, blank floppies, CD-Rs, video tapes, et cetera.

Christian Storms


Spam Carpet-bombing

(Responses from Editor-at-large Daniel Scuka in italics.)

Increasingly, I have been subjected to an incredible amount of spam on my i-mode phone -- two to four messages a day. I have since spoken to many other friends [in Japan] and I am hearing different stories. Here are some of the things that I have heard (I can not confirm any of these though):
>> Spam is a big issue, and DoCoMo is under a lot of pressure to fix it.


Developing for i-mode

I enjoyed reading your piece on developing for i-mode. Unfortunately, i-mode browser developers are making similar mistakes as developers of WAP and, earlier, HTML browsers -- they don't standardize enough. It can be good or bad. It's good for the phone makers (they sell more handsets if their browser offers the features necessary to access popular services), but it's a living hell for developers.

Best regards,

Jacek Artymiak


Like Gadget Watch, and, BTW ...

Great job, keep those reviews coming! (See Gadget Watch.)

One additional thing I'd like to see is some reference to English interfaces. When you can find it out, letting us know if the gadget has an English interface, manual, etc. would be really helpful.

Stephen N. Carter


On Memory Stick

A couple of comments re: Sony, Memory Stick, new cameras, and life in general. (In response to Gadget Watch No. 15.)



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