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Old 06-23-2012, 02:40 AM   #1
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Kobo Touch coming to Japan

http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/22/k...japan-in-july/

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Rakuten's $315 million buyout of Kobo will bear some e-reader fruit come July. The e-tailer's CEO and chairman, Hiroshi Mikitani, announced plans to release the Kobo eReader Touch Edition in Japan next month for 10,000 yen (on par with its $130 US sticker price). Timing is key, of course -- murmurs of the Kindle Touch's Japanese debut haven't escaped Mikitani's notice. "As a Japanese company, we cannot lose (to overseas rivals)," he told The Asahi Shimbun. Rakuten hopes to use the e-reader to export Japanese content, and aims to have 50,000 titles available by the end of 2012. Pre-orders kick off on July 2, with more details to come next month.
Great to hear that Kobo is expanding. I'm a little disappointed to hear that it's just the current gen Kobo Touch that is being introduced. That is basically one year old tech. If they're introducing it in Japan in July then what does that say for the hopes of Kobo Touch owners regarding a new version? Perhaps not as close as we'd like?
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Old 06-23-2012, 04:26 AM   #2
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Kobo never announces new devices until they are ready to sell them. They want people to buy existing devices up until the very last minute--not undercut sales in anticipation.
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Old 06-23-2012, 08:22 AM   #3
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If I recall correctly, and there is absolutely no guarantee I do, consumer protection laws, and practices, in Japan are very different from America and Europe. Essentially the idea of "no questions asked" refunds and even the "fit for purpose sold" criteria are not available to Japanese buyers who are unhappy with the performance of a particular product and wish to return it? I seem to recall reading that this was one of the reasons for the quality of Japanese cars which are originally released in the home market.

If so I wonder what this will mean for the presence of "bugs" in firmware and the apparently prevalent idea that initial purchasers are an extension of the beta testing period?

Corrections, comments, on a postcard...
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Old 06-23-2012, 09:43 AM   #4
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Interesting that you see it that way, Plib. I would rather have a product that receives updates and new features during the product life than one that is perfected, but static until a new device is released. The best scenario, of course, is that each firmware update is perfect!

The big question for me is if in readying the Touch for the Japanese market, Touch users elsewhere will see some new features or functionality added in. If I were a betting kind of noodle, I'd say yup.
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Old 06-23-2012, 09:59 AM   #5
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Interesting that you see it that way, Plib. I would rather have a product that receives updates and new features during the product life than one that is perfected, but static until a new device is released. The best scenario, of course, is that each firmware update is perfect!

The big question for me is if in readying the Touch for the Japanese market, Touch users elsewhere will see some new features or functionality added in. If I were a betting kind of noodle, I'd say yup.
I'm not objecting to improvements, there's nothing in that setup that prevents or discourages those. What it would discourage is banging out a product because marketing says so and we'll worry about fixing the bugs later. Which does happen, that last sentence is just about a direct quote from a marketroid I once had the misfortune to deal with.

My understanding is that the Japanese market is very demanding, and that sub-par products don't do very well, so they tend not to release sub-par products.
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Old 06-23-2012, 10:11 AM   #6
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It really will be interesting to see what happens. Although the Sony has been available here in Japan for the past year or two, I still haven't seen anyone using one. On the trains and buses, everyone still has their eyes glued to their cell phones. Competition is great but without drivers even the best of cars don't run.


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Old 06-23-2012, 11:13 AM   #7
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The big question for me is if in readying the Touch for the Japanese market, Touch users elsewhere will see some new features or functionality added in. If I were a betting kind of noodle, I'd say yup.
This is also my big question; in particular, I'm looking for the Japanese support features to make their way to the American market. As a student of Japanese, what I need in an e-reader is a good J-E dictionary and the ability to enter search terms using the touch screen (e.g. drawing characters in addition to phonetic keyboard IME). Also, in the book store, I want to see my most-used textbooks. Finally, the ability to load flashcard software like Anki, whether by an app store or by side-loading, would be great.

The first manufacturer to provide all of the above will get my business.
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Old 06-23-2012, 11:16 AM   #8
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If Kobo successfully updates its various apps so that they too work well with the Japanese language, growth in Japan could be pretty good. I know that as an organization getting all of the features available on all of the platforms is important to them.

As an aside, I think that we are beginning to see the benefits of the infusion of money from Rakuten. Both the iOS and Vox updates have been very, very good. I'm expecting similar quality with the next Touch update. It seems to take very deep pockets to get all of this right. It's hard to imagine any company being able to make the needed investment if all they sell are devices and books.

My belief is that if Kobo had not focused on marketing driven changes over the past year, there would not have been a sale to Rakuten. More then that, I believe that if Kobo had not been purchased, it would have either ceased to exist, or taken Chapters-Indigo down with it as the red ink grew more and more.

Last edited by taming; 06-23-2012 at 05:11 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 06-23-2012, 12:10 PM   #9
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I don't think many consumers appreciate how expensive it is to operate a hardware / software / content / ecommerce business across several countries and languages. If Amazon can do it, shouldn't everyone be able to?

The challenge, of course, is that to succeed you MUST be able to get a whole lot of things right -- big pieces and small -- and continue to update them in real time. I'm not making any excuses for anyone ... just saying the task is magnitudes of orders larger than most of us know.
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Old 06-23-2012, 02:39 PM   #10
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This is also my big question; in particular, I'm looking for the Japanese support features to make their way to the American market. As a student of Japanese, what I need in an e-reader is a good J-E dictionary and the ability to enter search terms using the touch screen (e.g. drawing characters in addition to phonetic keyboard IME). Also, in the book store, I want to see my most-used textbooks. Finally, the ability to load flashcard software like Anki, whether by an app store or by side-loading, would be great.

The first manufacturer to provide all of the above will get my business.
Unfortunately the market for students of Japanese is still too limited. Once in a moon there will be a ryuugakusei on a development team and some of the features you'd like will be available. The Japanese are still flabbergasted when someone wants to learn their language.
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Old 06-23-2012, 10:15 PM   #11
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Unfortunately the market for students of Japanese is still too limited. Once in a moon there will be a ryuugakusei on a development team and some of the features you'd like will be available. The Japanese are still flabbergasted when someone wants to learn their language.
Well, the 1980's (when Japanese business seemed to be taking over the world) are long behind us and they are not coming back. Learning Japanese now only makes sense for those who want to find a well paying job at a Japanese factory in a Third World country or who work in places where there are a lot of Japanese tourists. Not exactly a growth industry.
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Old 06-24-2012, 01:10 AM   #12
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The previous time i was over, about six months ago, it struck me how insular they've become. It was particularly obvious in the cell phone market. The consumer has no freedom whatsoever. Only the phones carried by the operator, no unlocked phones, and absolutely no knowledge about how cellular markets work outside Japan.
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Old 06-24-2012, 02:13 AM   #13
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The previous time i was over, about six months ago, it struck me how insular they've become. It was particularly obvious in the cell phone market. The consumer has no freedom whatsoever. Only the phones carried by the operator, no unlocked phones, and absolutely no knowledge about how cellular markets work outside Japan.
Actually you could apply most of that analysis to North America.
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Old 06-24-2012, 02:19 AM   #14
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The previous time i was over, about six months ago, it struck me how insular they've become. It was particularly obvious in the cell phone market. The consumer has no freedom whatsoever. Only the phones carried by the operator, no unlocked phones, and absolutely no knowledge about how cellular markets work outside Japan.
It was like this for phones ever since I've been here... almost 25 years now. The difference is that there are several different carriers. In the past it was only DoCoMo that handled mobile phones. Today there is SoftBank, Au, KDD, and Willcom. On the other hand, it seems that you can do more with Japanese mobile phones than can be done with western carriers. Even iPhone has different app for Japanese phones that aren't available in other languages.

Easiest must be Thailand. Walk into any convenience store, mom-and-pop shop or any place that sells phones and buy a sim card (choice of numbers and carriers) stick it in your phone and walk out. You then have the option of refilling that number later or buying a new card with a new number. NO contracts, no registrations. If one DOES want month-to-month billing instead, that's available too.



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Old 06-24-2012, 08:20 AM   #15
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The challenge for ebook success in Japan is getting a lot of BIG publishers on board.

They are not.

Amazon has been trying for years and still waiting for "enough" publishers to launch.
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