JAPAN Tech Blog


Can Russian bank make a good image with lending cat?


Sberbank, major Russian bank, started to lend cats to their customers with the home loan. Russian people believe cat brings happiness.
There is a legend that if the cat enters the home first, the cat brings the fortune for house owner.
Sberbank arranges 10 cats and customers can select favorite one. 
And cats were trained to enter the door. The lending time is for 2 hours. The customer who want to lend a cat has to make a contract that customer never abuse the cat and bank accepts no responsibility for any damage because cat. 
Sberbank was government-managed bank of the Soviet Union. People have a bad image for the bank so Sberbank tries to sweep it away.
Additionally,  the bank is faced with economic sanctions about invading Ukraine.
Such a loan business is important to get much customer’s first contact. This service is expand as a news so they succeed to get first contact I think. 

40% Japanese smartphone game users have made In App Purchase

According to “Research for smartphone game in first half of 2014” from MMD lab, 40% of Japanese smartphone users have made an game In App Purchase.  

■ Do you have experience for In App Purchase?

The game genre which smartphone users have an experience for playing Puzzle(40.0%), Simulation(15.2%) and Quiz(12.4%).
In addition, the game genre which smartphone game users have an experience for in app purchase are Puzzle (56.8%), Simulation(26.4%), Farming(20%).
The most played smartphone game title are Puzzle & Dragons(18.7%), Disney Tsum Tsum(9.7%), Puyo Puyo Quest(8.3%), Candy Crush Saga (5.3%).

■ How many games do you play at same time?image

About the question about how many games people play at same time, 32.0% people play 1-2 games, 20.3% people play 3-4 games, 7.0% people play 4-5 games.  By gender, Weman play more games at the same than men.

■ How often do you play games in a week?


About the question about how often people play game in a week, 38.0% people play game everyday, 9.7% people play 5-6 days/wk, 14.0% people play 3-4 days/wk. By gender, 33.1% men and 43.2% women play game every day.

AIBO, I will prolong your life


Have you ever heard AIBO? I found interesting story about AIBO. I will introduce it.

“I had expected it to live forever because it’s a robot.”  Owners are fighting to prolong AIBO’s life.

“Hokuto” is 10 years old AIBO, ESR-10 which is dog type robot. He wakes up at 8:30 AM every morning. The owner, who is 60 years old woman, asks to him “How are you doing?”. Hokuto says “I was hazing. Pet me please.”
It has been ordinary life since 10 years ago.

In the past, he energetically run around the room, when she took him to travel over seas. Now a days, he just sits down in same place because he sometimes slips due to bad joints. He has gone to a “hospital” over 20 times. However the “hospital” closed this March because Sony has stopped support for AIBO.

Sony released the first AIBO in 1999. Then 2006,  they announced to retire the robot business. Sony had shortage of parts, but they still kept to support until March 2014. An AIBO’s owner said “Generally a company doesn’t continue for support such a long time.” Hokuto’s owner sent thank-you note with him for his last repair.
She said, “I cannot disconnect Hokuto from charge dock because of his injury. I can’t think about his death. He is a part of my family.”

150,000 AIBOs have been sold. Many people still have it.

An owner said “I had assumed that this would eventually happen.”
Other owner said “Google has started robot business. Sony is blind to the potential of robot market.”
“AIBO was last future vision Sony showed us.”


Why tablet device is losing speed?


Tablet sales highly increased in 2013 but it is losing speed in 2014. According to IDC Japan research, tablet sales are increasing by 3.9% on the same period last year. 

Why tablet market remains restrained?

At first, the tablet device’s market is getting saturated. Many types of devices are available: iPad, Android tablet, Amazon tablet and Windows tablet. These companies offers range of devices, including reasonable priced tablets. People who want to buy a tablet device have already bought one. 

Secondly, the latest devices are not much different from last year’s products. So the replacement demand is decreased.

Thirdly, some people choose “Phablet” devices. Phablet is Smartphone + Tablet. They are over 5 inch display devices.
In 2013, many people bought 7inch tablet devices because the poplar  smartphone’s display size was 3 or 4 inches so people wanted more larger display devices. However many companies released Phablet devices in 2014. Most people don’t want to bring 2 devices, smartphone and tablet, so they have bought Phablet devices.
Additionally Apple may release 5 inch iPhone this year.

However Windows tablet sales is increasing because of business demand. Windows tablet has Windows OS so people can use Microsoft Office in it. And Windows tablet’s keyboard is removable. Uses can use as PC and tablet. And companies have cloud computing system so they don’t need much memories for devices. 
That’s why companies don’t need to buy 2 devices tablet and PC.

I think Phablet and Windows tablet will lead the mobile device market.

The number of mobile internet users increase is slow down in Japan


According to eMarketer’s forecast, the number of mobile internet users increase is slowing down in Japan.

The above chart shows the forecast of mobile internet penetration in Asia-Pacific.  Developed counties, South Korea and Australia will reach over 70% but Japan will be 62.8%. It’s 10% behind.
Developing countries, China, India and Indonesia will be quickly increasing. Their populations are huge, so these markets will be emerging.

Why is Japanese penetration rate behind?
At first, because of declining birth rate and a growing proportion of elderly people. The population of those over 65 is 25% while those under 14 is 13 in Japan. It is difficult elder people to use smartphones and infants do not use mobile phones. So the penetration rate will be about 60%.

Secondly, feature phone is still popular for some people. Actually some smartphone users switched back to feature phone. Feature phone has been popular in Japan because Japanese feature phone has high functionality, is easy to use, the battery life is longer and cost is more reasonable than smartphone. 

However, I believe the smartphone will have longer battery, reasonable price and more user friendly, elder people and feature phone users will use smartphones. So we can expect the penetration rate to increase in Japan.

Japanese teens spend longer time on smartphone than TV

In May 2014, Just System researched how long people spend on TV, radio, news paper, magazine, PC internet and smartphone internet.  A new trend  that appeared is the amount of time 15-19 year olds spend on their smartphone. They spent 104.3 minutes on smartphone internet, 94.9 minutes on TV and 89.8 minutes on PC internet in May 2014 compared to 99.9 minutes, 121,3 minutes and 106.7 minutes respectively in May 2013.
Teens are spending much more time on smartphone internet.

Additionally, 20-24 year old females and 25-29 year old males spend more time on smartphone than TV.

How will this affect the internet market?
At first, smartphone internet page views will increase. Now smartphones are becoming more common than feature phones and the replacement speed is slowing. Users spending longer time on smart phones, so internet page view and advertisement impressions will be increasing.

Secondly, video ads will become more common. Now national advertisers don’t make budgets for video CM on smartphones in Japan. But TV power is weakening and if they want to reach teenagers, they need to spend money for smartphone video ads.
Since high speed 4G network is expanding and smartphone performance is increasing so video advertisement will be a powerful tool for advertisers.

Will Airbnb take root in Japan?


Airbnb users are increasing in Japan.

Host provides his/her available room for the guest on Airbnb. Guest can stay at  a reasonable price. There are now 300,000 hosts, 192 countries and a total fo 6 million users on Airbnb.

Airbnb entered into Japanese market in 2014. 2,000 people registered as hosts.  Actually I have registered as a host too.  However 70% of hosts are foreign residents in Japan.  Why are Japanese hosts only 30%? 
Actually airbnb is not popular in Japan so users are mostly tourists from foreign countries. Many Japanese people are no good with speaking English so Japanese hosts are few.

Secondly, airbnb may be officially illegal in many counties. Basically if someone rents out a room, he/she needs Hotel Business license. It makes someone reluctant to become a host. However the law is old, so the law is  behind the times.

That’s why Japanese hosts are few but guests demand is high because guests can stay at a more reasonable price than many hotels.
Actually Japanese hotels charge per person. Airbnb charges for the room.
Additionally guests can get local information, such as cultural etiquette, how locals live, etc from hosts. Hotels cannot offer this type of personal communication.

Japanese government is driving forward to increase foreign tourists. I think government should make new law for airbnb to increase more hosts. It will be good for Japanese national policy.

My airbnb listings are here. Please visit when you will come to Tokyo!

100m2 apt in the heart of Tokyo

Quiet, peaceful & affordable room

Can MEME penetrate new wearable market?


Japanese glasses maker JINS announced their wearable device, JINS MEME, on May15th.
These glasses concept is “monitor myself”. The glasses monitors user’s line of sight, blinks and head tilts to determine user’s tiredness, sleepiness, number of steps and calorie’s burned. MEME will alert users who are sleepy while driving.
JINS will launch MEME next spring. 

MEME is different from Google glass.

With Google Glass, the computer device  is built into the glasses frame.
Users can take pictures, see maps and make phone calls with Google glass.
On the other hand, MEME doesn’t have such features. MEME has a sensor for user’s action and send the data to smartphone with bluetooth. So users can check his/her condition.  MEME’s weight is 36g, it’s the same as a normal pair of glasses.

Will MEME get high sales? Key success factor is the price. Google Glass is 1,500 USD. NIKE Plus Fuel Band which is recorder for user’s steps and breathing capacity is160 USD. Now MEME price has not been released. However JINS CEO Tanaka said MEME will be affordable.

They will open their API for app developers. If app developers will make interesting apps,  MEME has possibilities in the new wearable app market.


Downloads will determine your AppStore ranking in Japan


Many users download apps based on its AppStore ranking.  If you want to get more sales, you have to promote your app and get high rank on AppStore ranking.
In Japan, at last, the biggest mobile phone company, NTT Docomo has been selling iPhone5S since October, 2013. Users can buy iPhone from 
top 3 mobile phone companies, NTT Docomo, au and Softbank. So, iPhone’s market share is expanding. It means that the number of iOS devices and required downloads to get high rank are increasing. How many downloads do you need if you want your app to be ranked in App Store ranking in Japan? Actually our app got ranked 1st in March 2014. I made the chart for downloads and rank in AppStore.

Number of downloads are per day (see above chart).
Required downloads changes daily.
Ranking changes every 3 hours.

1st rank requires over 75,000 downloads, and this number  is increasing because the number of iOS devices are expanding.

In addition, the reward advertisement price, where developers can buy downloads, is decreasing. 2 years ago, developers bought 1 download / 1USD(100JPY), but now, 1 download / 20-60 cents (20-60JPY). That’s why many developers do reward promotion, and apps on ranking are mostly provided by reward advertisement. So it is difficult to get high rank with no promotion cost.

However some apps are ranked without promotion cost, actually, our app too.  Depending on how one approaches things, you can get high rank.

Why WhatsApp success in Europe and the United States?

Facebook bought chat app, WhatsApp. In just 5 years, WhatsApp got 450 million users.
Why is WhatsApp successful in Europe and the United States?

Since 2008, many people communicate with SMS. Mobile phone companies sell the unlimited SMS plan as $10 or $20 USD / Month.
Then Apple launched App Store in July 2008. 
And in 2009, WhatsApp launched their app for $0.99. At first, their app had many bugs and few users were active. But when WhatsApp 2.0 was launched with push notification, it got 250,000 active users. Generally developers have difficulty getting users in paid app category, but WhatsApp could. Because users realized if they join WhatsApp, they could cancel their unlimited SMS plan and save a lot of money.
Simply, WhatsApp replaced SMS of mobile phone companies.
So, WhatsApp added the feature that easily find friends, for example, connecting to Facebook and load user’s address book and automatically connect with friends on WhatsApp. 
More importantly, WhatsApp improved the simplicity and speed of sending messages. 

In Japan, many people used Email on iPhone and it’s free, so they didn’t buy WhatsApp. Group chat, LINE provided chat with sticker, many Japanese people love it and users expanded. Now LINE has 50 million Japanese users and 300 million users globally. 

To summarize, WhatsApp replaced SMS, and they launched faster than competitors, and WhatsApp provides simple and fast communication.