Sep 012012

Welcome to Japanese Technology from the Future Friday!
It’s already Friday already here in Japan – we’re 16 hours ahead of the western U.S., which means it’s totally the future. And because it’s already Friday already, one is left with little time to provide something original or worthwhile before the weekend hits.

So one aggregates!
(see all JTFF posts here)

Why Japan and J-Tech?
First, Anthrobotic has geographical superiority. In the future.
Second, Japan has lots and lots of super hott (and odd) technology stuff going on.
Third, delicious opportunities to cathartically make fun of the Japanese invariably crop up.

Your Source for One-Upping other Technology Dorks
As JTFF is a conduit of specifically Japanese tech news, from the future, readers are assuredly almost a day ahead of half the world’s technologically interested/obsessed. Check in Friday mornings in North America, and BOOM! You win, man.

:: Japanese Technology from the Future Friday – August 31, 2012 ::

Japan Fails at Electronics Edition
So, when was the last time anyone (outside of Japan) wanted the brand new [PRODUCT] from the innovative and highly profitable Japanese tech company [WHICHEVER]? All kinds of not recently, that’s when. Japanese consumer tech companies have been sliding downward for a while (think Memory Stick, PSP, VAIO, phones, etc. and you’ve got your industry-wide analog in Sony). Moreover and more so, a “while” doesn’t mean what it used to – in less than a decade technology giants like schizophrenic Sony, Panasonic, Canon, and the recently spanked-for-loss-hiding Olympus have lost market share and value at unprecedented rates.

So what gives, J-Pan? Well, a lot of us who write about this and/or care cite a complex soup of stale to nonexistent innovation, moribund corporate hierarchies (which kinda perpetuate the former), and of course the Samsung factor. This first piece illustrates such vis-à-vis Samsung’s upcoming line of copiers with iPhone-caliber chips (paper is still big like really big in Japan – they use FAX machines, ha!) There’s some good stats here.

Rubbing it in further, the Taipei-based manufacturer Foxconn has likely decided not to invest in Sharp, a stumbling Japanese giant on par with those mentioned above. The investment was to be more than a handful of billions – but founder Terry Gou went home without cutting a check. How bad is that for Sharp? Well, they’re planning to lay off 5000 workers – their first labor cut since 1950. Damn, son.

Next, the obvious: Have J-Tech Companies Lost their Edge? This article has a bunch of charts and actual data points that I won’t really talk about because I don’t really want to. But it’s good reading and gives actual numbers which is more than you’re getting here – JTFF is just a vector!

Denouement. Kinda.
Perhaps this is Japan’s natural march away from consumer electronics toward large(r) scale tech like green energy (see previous JTFF), further expansion of industrial & home/assistive robotics, and other stuff I can’t be asked to responsibly cite right now. Well, possibly. But the thing is this: in arguably the world’s most advanced capitalist economy, 130 million affluent middle-class people and their various employers would like to buy useful, powerful, sexy, and affordable Japanese consumer electronics, but Japan’s not making the best stuff anymore – and in the modern tech economy utility of course trumps nationalism, which means nation-scale tax base erosion.

That’s bad for Japan. Good for Samsung and Apple.
Whatcha going to do, Japan – whatcha gonna do?

Related: JTFF with commentary on Japan sucking at smartphones.

Live from the future – that is all!


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