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2010年5月12日 (水)

携帯情報端末 日本上陸で広がる新たな波紋

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 12, 2010)
Will iPad change Japan's content industry?
携帯情報端末 日本上陸で広がる新たな波紋(5月11日付・読売社説)

SoftBank Mobile Corp. on Monday began taking orders in this country for the iPad tablet computer manufactured by Apple Inc.

The iPad is enjoying astonishing popularity in the United States--it debuted there April 3 and sold 300,000 units on that day alone. Less than one month later, 1 million units had been bought.

As a result of this higher-than-expected demand, however, the iPad's release was postponed in Japan and other countries outside the United States.

The secret behind its popularity is the public's view of the iPad as a next-generation information terminal, something different from a conventional personal computer or cell phone.

The device looks like a board and is about one-quarter the size of a broadsheet newspaper. It weighs about 700 grams and features an embedded, glass-covered liquid crystal display.

Users can carry the iPad like a memo pad and enjoy a variety of content, including photos, videos, electronic books and games, just by touching the display with a fingertip.


Universal appeal

Although it does not have vocal communication functions, iPad users can search for information and send and receive e-mails by connecting it to the Internet. It also has business applications, such as creating documents and spreadsheets.

Unlike a personal computer, there is almost no need for iPad users to learn difficult operations, and unlike a cell phone, they do not have to strain their eyes looking at a small display. In the United States, a broad range of people, irrespective of gender and age, are said to be purchasing iPads.

Will the device have the same popularity here as in the United States? One problem is that it is more difficult in Japan than in the United States to obtain content to watch or read on the iPad, such as videos and e-books.

In the United States, Apple offers services enabling iPad users to watch movies and television programs via the Internet. Users can also purchase a wide variety of e-books from Apple and major online bookstore Amazon.com over the Internet.

In the education field, moves are growing to digitize textbooks so students can read them on iPads.


A door to the future?

Online sales of videos and e-books in Japan are limited, partly because many copyright holders will not grant permission.

Is the iPad going to be a breakthrough that will expand such sales, like the 1853 arrival of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry and his "Black Ships" led to the opening of the nation?

The use of e-books particularly is increasing quickly in the United States and Europe, attracting attention in the publishing industry as a new source of revenue.

Japanese people are said to have a special affection for hardbound books. But if digitization creates more diverse means of reading, it might help promote the culture of the printed word.

It is regrettable, however, that in recent years this country has often fallen behind others in developing these kinds of electronic devices. Japan's technological and industrial capabilities seem to be on the decline. The government and the industrial sector must study ways to correct this.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 11, 2010)
(2010年5月11日01時37分  読売新聞)


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