NEC Releases AI Chooses The Best Taste of 2-channelers Soul Snack Umaibou

Umaibou is a Japanese snack which is now widely known as a symbolic favourite snack of the Japan’s largest anonymous bulletin boards 2-channel.

The service which NEC launched to boast its AI technology is a automatic profiler tool to select the best fit Umaibou flavour for you.

nec-ai-umaibou-recommendation

How Japanese Over Thirty Feel NEC’s Joint Venture With Lenovo

A week ago, China’s Lenovo and Japan’s top-shared PC vendor NEC announced to merge their PC business and to establish a joint venture company.

Lenovo and NEC say they will create a joint venture to form the largest PC business in Japan.

The new entity, NEC Lenovo Group Japan, brings together Japan’s top PC company with China’s Lenovo, one of the biggest PC makers in the world.

Under the deal, Lenovo will own 51 percent of the joint venture, and NEC Corp. will hold 49 percent.

Businessweek

The news itself was widely covered on Chinese and English media, so I won’t repeat details here.

Coverage on Japanese media are even bigger. The reason is that NEC’s PC business has special meanings to Japanese personal computer users who began their computer lives in 80’s to early ’90s.

NEC dominated Japanese PC market in BASIC and MS-DOS era. First by PC-8001/8801, 8-bit computer which should match with Commodore 64 in West,

pc-8001

then by PC-9801, 16 bit personal computer series established its kingdom, defended domestic market against badly-localized PC/AT and its compatibles.

NEC PC-9801UV2

They had, like IBM compatibles, Microsoft BASIC and DOS. At the end of PC-9801, when PC/AT became to be able to handle Japanese text in software level, they even had MS-Windows for PC-9801.

After Windows 95, they could not keep selling their original personal computers, however, were able to let their loyal customers switch to PC/AT-based “NEC”. They are not “dominant” anymore but are competing top share in Japan.

NEC’s PC-9801 was one of the first looser against global de facto on Japanese personal computing, which is followed by Ichitaro (against MS-Word), Kiri (MS-Access), Hanako (Illustrator), Just Windows (MS-Windows), Oyayubi Shift (Qwerty and Japanese input method environment), ODiN/Senrigan (Yahoo!), goo (Google) and Mixi (could be Facebook, in the long run).

So, like IBM sold its PC business to Lenovo, this news is symbolic for Japanese.

Evernote Gets Bigger, Opens Office in Japan

Evernote‘s press conference was held in Tokyo on 23rd June, just one day before their second anniversary.

At the conference, Evernote’s CEO Phil Libin, who was visiting Tokyo, announced a lot of new things for their Japanese users.

1. Japan branch

They opened a 100% subsidiary, Evernote Japan. Evernote’s vice president Takeshi Nakajima, who worked in Sony Vaio team before, leads the local team. Japan branch is to hire 5 more employees this year and cooperate with US head office.

2. New feature – Japanese OCR now supported

Evernote now can extract Japanese texts from printed letters and handwriting images.

3. More and More Partnership with Japanese companies

In addition to the current partners like Canon(document scanner integration), Sony(Vaio pre-installed) and Eye-fi(bundled package),

Package ditribution

SourceNext sells a packaged version of Evernote “Starter Pack” on July 2nd.

Internet portal

NEC’s internet service provider Biglobe[J] offers Evernote to their customers on its portal.

Restaurant review web service

Groumet Navigator Gurunabi

Gurunavi[J], one of the largest restaurant review site to add “save to Evernote” path.

Gadget integration

A big stationary maker Pentel[J] will make a new version of their handwrite-recording digital pen Airpen [J] which supports Evernote connection.

Evernote in Japan

Libin mentioned some interesting points on how Evernote is popular and getting attentions in Japan.

  • Number of Japanese users is 350,000, which is 1/10 of all users.
  • 18% of active users come from Japan, which is the second highest after USA(57%), more than the sum of following 10 countries(Spain, UK, Canada, …).
  • Japan has the highest number of local collaborating partners
  • Many Evernote books are published in Japanese, whilst no book in USA. – I confirmed at least 5 dedicated books on Amazon Japan. See below (translated book titles are not official but by me).

via Netafull [J]

See Also:

Event summary on official Japanese blog [J]

Pentel’s release [J]

iPhone 2009 Takes 4.9% Share In Japan

MM Research Institute Ltd. announced their research on Japanese cellphone shipment share in year 2009 [J].

Sharp, Panasonic Mobile, Fujitsu, NEC, Kyocera, Sony-Ericsson, Apple, Toshiba, Casio, LG and others

2008 market share by the same MM Research was here [J],

Sharp, Panasonic Mobile, NEC, Fujitsu, Sony-Ericsson, Toshiba and others

As always, English media like Bloomberg already reportedApple Captured 72% of Japan Smartphone Market in 2009. There, “only the smartphone” share was picked up and said Apple got 72% of Japan, without telling what smartphone means here in Japan.

The definition of “smartphone” is vague even among Japanese. Japanese Wikipedia [J] says that smartphone means that the phone has any of these operating system; “Symbian OS, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, iPhone OS, Android, BlackBerry OS, Palm OS and Palm WebOS”. That is, all non-Japanese OS.

Apple built up their 4.9% share in few years is a great achievement in this crookedly-evolved competitive cellphone market, even though it was initially supported by loyal users of Macintosh and iPod, both had succeeded more than world average in Japan, and exclusive partner Softbank Mobile’s aggressive “Substantially Free” campaign, which is now being extended over a year.

But honestly, I dislike English media repeat posting “latest iPhone domination in Japan” news with misleading number, which should not be good also for serious foreign companies who are thinking how they should go into Japanese mobile market. You must support Japanese cellphone… yet.

See Also:

Half Of Japanese Male iPhone Users Keep Their Japanese Cellphone

If iPhone Were No.1 in Japan, Sony Would Be No.1 Music Player

Wireless Japan 2009, Mobile Innovations Are Out There

Logo of Wireless Japan 2009

In order to cover one of this year’s remarkable mobile exhibitions in Tokyo, I’ve checked many IT news sources, but most of new products and new services introduced at the exhibition have been already featured on Asiajin. (Probably this is what we have to be proud of, because that means we keep covering the cutting-edge.)

That’s why we focus only on what we’ve never featured on Asiajin but have been exhibited at Wireless Japan 2009.

Applix's Logo

Mobile giant NTT DoCoMo and Applix, a Tokyo-based Java mobile platform developer having two-dozen-year history, announced they would join forces to develop AR(Augmented Reality) products. Following Tonchi-Dot’s Sekai Camera[E/J] (backed up by Softbank Mobile) and KDDI’s AR cellphone, NTT DoCoMo joined the race in developing AR-based products, which means all three Japanese mobile carriers believe AR may be one of key factors for making the next-generation mobile business more successful.


The video above was taken and published on YouTube by freelance writer Tamotsu Hashimoto.

The team of NTT DoCoMo and Applix developed a new Android app allowing you to retrieve information associated with what you’re seeing through a camera built-in your cellphone, and its experimental prototype was exhibited. The app is also downloadable for signed up users at the trial service category[J] of NTT DoCoMo’s corporate website.

Meanwhile, Japan’s only PHS mobile operator Willcom developed a high-speed data transmission standard called XGP, and it’s now on test drive at Tokyo’s CBD. However, with such a brand new technology, most of us have no idea on how our life will be changed in the future. Willcom developed a variety of concept-based product mockups in association with major Japanese mobile device manufacturers, and those have been introduced on the company’s special website[J] for the last several months. The mockups were actually exhibited within booth visitor’s reach, which makes us easier to imagine what happens next.

(The mockups introduced below are not intended for sales but conceptual models for encouraging further consumer understanding.)

JRC's Logo

Network Buoy
Network Buoy developed by JRC

A floating WiFi access point allows you to enjoy the Internet on sea, lake and river. It measures up-to-date water temperature and sea current, capture images and sounds, and transmit them over wireless Internet connection.

For Motor Bike Riders
Broadband Communication Tool for Motorbike Riders developed by JRC

By attaching this device to a motorbike rider’s helmet, he/she will be always updated with useful information even while he/she is driving.

Kyocera's Logo

Image Tube
Image Tube: Multi-task Display developed by Kyocera

An LCD rolled around a hand-held body will show you a variety of information, and you can choose a menu only by touching it with your finger.

NEC's Logo

AirTray
Air Tray: Multi-method Transaction Terminal co-developed by NEC Infrontier and NEC Design & Promotion

A device enabling IC-card and contactless cellphone wallet-based transactions even at food trucks and food carts.

Sanyo's Logo

Energy Bulb
Energy Bulb: A Clean Energy Server developed by Sanyo Electric

Solar battery, battery charger and WiFi access point in one. It always connects with Internet and distributed energy and information to household appliances at your home.

SII's Logo

Amaterasu & Tsukuyomi
Amaterasu & Tsukuyomi: A Tribal Communication Tool developed by SII (Seiko Instruments), named after the Gods of the Sun and the Moon in Shinto and Japanese Mythology

Wearing this accessory makes you feel virtually connected with your remote friends for 24 hours a day. It shows you real-time state on the community that you’re a member of.

VLS
VLS (Vital Link System): A Set of Sensor Devices developed by SII for Prevention Medicare

By wearing this on your hand, it transmits vital signs 24 hours a day and may reduce the necessity to attend hospital.

Toshiba's Logo

Network Ecology Bag
Network Ecology Bag developed by Toshiba Mobile Communication[J]

RFID (radio-frequency identification) tagging will be well spread at retail services, this bag allows housewives to keep the list of what you’ve bought. By transmitting the list over the Internet, it allows them to manage the family expenses and to promote health care.

Rental Bike System
Rental Bike System developed by Toshiba Mobile Communication[J]

This attachment for bicycles will change them to rental bikes. The attachment has features of GPS navigation, FeliCa (for accepting rental fee payment by contactless cellphone wallet) and remote lock system for possible fraud use.

Real-time Translator
Real-time Translator developed by Toshiba Mobile Communication[J]

A combination of wearing this device and high-speed wireless connectivity allows you to communicate with many people who speak different languages from your mother tongue, since it translates what you speak as well as your gestures. Translation results will be uttered by the device or appeared on its surface.