"XBox 360 Lounge" in Tokyo/Aoyama

XBox has not yet achieved the breakthrough in Japan’s competitive game markets – and Microsoft is relentlessly working to make XBox a success in Japan.

Here some pictures of the new “XBox 360 Lounge” in Tokyo/Aoyama:

XBox 360 Lounge in Tokyo Omotesando
XBox 360 Lounge in Tokyo Omotesando
XBox 360 Lounge in Tokyo Omotesando
XBox 360 Lounge in Tokyo Omotesando
XBox 360 Lounge in Tokyo Omotesando
XBox 360 Lounge in Tokyo Omotesando

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Consolidation in Japan’s game industry

Japan’s mobile game software companies are global superpowers. They are all historically grown and linked to other industry sectors, such as characters, arcade games, pachinko (pinball parlor) machines. For details read our report on Japan’s mobile game software sector

While the market for traditional home video gamesoftware is rapidly shrinking, a landslide shift is underway to network games, online games and mobile games.

These changes bring consolidation. Some recent mergers are:

  • Bandai acquires Namco
  • SEGA (game arcades) and Sammy (pachinko) merge
  • Takara and TOMY merge
  • Role playing game leader Square-Enix (itself a merger of Square and Enix) acquires the larger TAITO
Consolidation of Japan's games sector
Consolidation of Japan’s games sector

The Square-Enix deal is particularly interesting because it underlines the Japanese preference for role playing games.

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Ig Nobel Prize for Peace to the inventor of Karaoke

There is a saying the that the Prophet is not recognized within his/her own country – and I think that the inventor of Karaoke, Inoue Daisuke (井上 大佑) is not as famous in his own country as he deserves – but he was now recognized for his outstanding invention by the “Ig Nobel Prize” committee in the PEACE category.

This years Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on September 30, 2004 to Inoue Daisuke, for inventing karaoke, thereby providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other.

“Karaoke” means “empty orchestra” (KARAOKE = KARA (= empty) + OrKEstra).

The Ig Nobel Peace Prize is one of the IG Nobel Prizes, awarded annually by the Journal “Annals of Improbable Research” at MIT.

Tokyo Game Show 2004 – smartphone games, mobile games at the center

Tokyo Game Show, Japan's games industries www.eurotechnology.com

Tokyo Game Show 2004: smartphone games, mobile phones games the most exciting topic

Games are one of the drivers for mobile phones – and mobile phones are a driver for games. So the Tokyo Games Show is the place to go…

Tokyo Game Show 2004: Docomo’s mobile game partners

DoCoMo – as usual at most trade shows I attend in Tokyo – had one of the most impressive central exhibits with beautiful corners/desks for 15 selected i-mode game partners, out of over 4000 i-mode content partners thats a very select few:

Outline of DoCoMo's exhibit at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004
Outline of DoCoMo’s exhibit at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004

Out of the selected 15 few, the makers of Final-Fantasy had the top spot and 3-4 times more space than all others – clearly an enviable spot on i-mode. Not surprisingly Final Fantasy is consistently at the top of the i-mode roleplaying game ranking:

SquareEnix booth at the DoCoMo exhibit of Tokyo Game Show TGS2004
SquareEnix booth at the DoCoMo exhibit of Tokyo Game Show TGS2004

Tokyo Game Show 2004: SONY PSP – PlayStation Portable

Probably the center of the show was SONY’s PSP preview (PSP = PlayStation Portable). With a 333MHz CPU the PSP would have been a supercomputer and subject to serious trade-friction talks between US and Japan trade negotiators not that long ago…. how times change. IEEE802.11b WiFi “HotSpot” connectivity brings the PSP into the serious communication segment – what holds someone back adding VOIP to a PSP, undercutting the business models of most mobile operators… The PSP is clearly disruptive innovation in action…

SONY PSP mockup at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004
SONY PSP mockup at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004

everyone wanted his/her hands on a PSP:

All hands reach for SONY's PSP at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004
All hands reach for SONY’s PSP at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004

People love car races. I counted at least five stunning car race games. The most impressive display for me was SONY’s “Gran Turismo 4” to be released December 3, 2004. But I am no expert in car racing games – yet.

SONY's Gran Turismo at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004
SONY’s Gran Turismo at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004

Mobile phones without NOKIA? In Japan, that’s essentially so. NOKIA tried to enter Japan’s markets several times – I tried a DoCoMo-NOKIA NM502i for a few months. NOKIA had a nice display at the Tokyo Game Show, the emphasis was on helping Japanese game developers enter GSM markets via the NOKIA platform.

NOKIA exhibiting at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004
NOKIA exhibiting at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004

Are these women ATARI’s software engineers?

ATARI at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004
ATARI at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004
ATARI at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004
ATARI at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004

…and ATI:

ATI at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004
ATI at Tokyo Game Show TGS2004

Purchase and download our report on “Tokyo Game Show 2004” with 150 photographs here

…and our report and analysis on “Japan’s game industry” with about 140 pages here:

www.eurotechnology.com/store/jgames/

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Masaru Ibuka (1908-1997), founder of SONY, obituary for NATURE

SONY

Masaru Ibuka obituary in NATURE by Gerhard Fasol

Masaru Ibuka (1908-1997), founder of SONY

After Masaru Ibuka (井深大) died on December 19, 1997, NATURE asked me to write an obituary about Masaru Ibuka, which was published in Nature on February 26, 1998, and you can download the article as a pdf-file here. The reference is: Gerhard Fasol, “Obituary: Masaru Ibuka (1908-97)”, Nature 391, p. 848 (26 February 1998).

Masaru Ibuka obituary in NATURE by Gerhard Fasol – the background

I used several weeks of my spare time to research and write this obituary. For example, I worked to reach and talk with several people who had met Ibuka in person, since I had never personally met Ibuka. As another example: General McArthur’s Government of Japan wanted to communicate with the population of Japan via radio, however, radio receiver production in Japan was very inefficient at that time due to quality problems, leading to very low yield. So General McArthur’s Government brought Quality experts Homer Sarasohn and Charles Protzmann to Japan to teach classes in quality management. I found out that Ibuka was a keen student of these quality classes. To understand this better, I phoned with a retired officer of General McArthur’s Government, and I also found relatives of Homer Sarasohn, who very kindly gave me a lot of information about Homer Sarasohn’s work in teaching quality management in Japan.

Debunking some myths about SONY and Masaru Ibuka

Interestingly, there is a lot of misunderstandings and myths around SONY, some of which I clarified in the Nature obituary for Masaru Ibuka.

Myth: Akio Morita is the founder of SONY

Reality: SONY was founded as Tokyo Tsushin Kenkyusho (the Tokyo Communications Laboratory) by Masaru Ibuka and by Akio Morita, who are the two co-founders of Tokyo Tsushin Kenkyusho, the company name was later changed to SONY.

Myth in Japan: Many people in Japan think that SONY is an American company

Reality: SONY is a Japanese company with headquarters in Tokyo-Shinagawa. The reason why many people think that SONY is an American company, is that SONY’s company name and brand name in Japan is written in Katakana, while traditional Japanese companies always write their company in Chinese characters (Kanji). (Note however, that Nissan President Carlos Ghosn, says that companies have no nationality).

Myth: Nobel Prize winner Leo Esaki discovered the tunnel diode, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize, at IBM

Reality: Leo Esaki discovered the tunnel diode as a researcher at Tokyo Tsushin Kenkyusho, which later changed the company name to SONY. Leo Esaki then moved to IBM Yorktown Heights R&D labs, and was awarded the Nobel Prize while working at IBM for his discovery of the tunnel diode, which he discovered while working at Tokyo Tsushin Kenkyusho.

Read more about today’s SONY:

More about SONY and Japan’s electronic companies in our Report on Japan’s electronics industry.

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