Is Japan Ready To Crack The Global Phone Market? : All Tech Considered Why is Japan not a world leader in the mobile-phone market? It is a puzzle since Japan has been out in front of the crowd on a range of technologies.
NPR logo Is Japan Ready To Crack The Global Phone Market?

Is Japan Ready To Crack The Global Phone Market?

Hiroko Tabuchi at the New York Times offers up a story that asks: Why aren't Japanese handset makers market leaders globally?

It is a puzzle. As the article points out, Japan has been out in front of the crowd on a range of technologies.

Yet Japan's lack of global clout is all the more surprising because its cellphones set the pace in almost every industry innovation: e-mail capabilities in 1999, camera phones in 2000, third-generation networks in 2001, full music downloads in 2002, electronic payments in 2004 and digital TV in 2005.
Japan has 100 million users of advanced third-generation smartphones, twice the number used in the United States, a much larger market. Many Japanese rely on their phones, not a PC, for Internet access.

The Japanese have concluded that their technological innovation has resulted in an unexpected isolation from other markets. They call it the "Galapagos syndrome."

But the article seems to conclude that the root of their problem going forward is an obsession with hardware in a world where it looks like software will be the differentiator.