Back From Japan some Observations!

I just got back from 5 days in Japan and honestly as much as I love Japan this trip made me realize a couple of things that I will try and parallel from a tech standpoint.

1. Internet Usage
My Mother-In-Law does not and has never used a computer.
My Mother uses a computer and does so daily.
My Brother-In-Law in Japan does not use a computer even in his job.
My Brother-In-Law in US uses a computer at home and work.
My Wife has 4 sisters only one of them has a computer and the Internet
My Wife uses a computer on a daily basis.

2. Mobile Phones
While the family in Japan is largely Internet/Computer illiterate, they all have digitally connected mobile phones. Their access to the net is largely from a mobile phone and mobile ready website. Generally they do short emails and web-surfing on the phones. The iPhone though has closed the mobile divide, where it used to be Japan was way ahead in mobile technology, the only thing that we are really behind on now is NFC.. Every store I went to had a NFC reader, and I saw a lot of purchases being made with a mobile phone.

3. Digital Cameras
None of my wife’s family has owned a stand alone digital camera in over 10 years. They all use their cell-phones as their cameras. They were shocked when I broke out my Cannon EOS 60D and asked me if I had taken up professional photography. Along the same lines they were surprised when I edited photos on my laptop that I had taken a day earlier. For the funeral they had paid someone about $500.00 to edit a picture to use during the funeral, that depicted my father-in-law that they hated. I edited the same digital picture in 10 minutes in Photoshop for free, and had it printed at the mall for $20.00 which they end up using for the funeral.

4. Fax Machines
They still rely on Fax machines for a lot of communications we would do via email via scanning a document.

5. General Observations
The younger generation 30 and below all had either an iPhone or Android powered mobile device. Everyone above 30 had more classic Japanese styled proprietary phones. The mobile internet is very fast, I rented a mobile MIFI from Softbank, and it had speeds of 7.5 megs down / 1.5 megs up. According to my sister-in-law the data plans for mifi type devices in Japan are still unlimited and cost around $35.00 a month.

6. Skype
The whole family minus one sister was amazed when I did a Video Skype call back to my mom in Michigan on Thanksgiving day, they could not believe that it was free and how clear the call/video was. We have been talking with the connected sister via Skype for a long time, but for the rest of the unconnected family to see me do it on the living room table, was as if I had just talked to someone on the Mars.

Overall the older generations in Japan continues to be disconnected from the Internet, while I can rely only on my own observations I really think that the country as a whole is not as connected as we are here in the United States. The 30 and below crowd seem to be connected but above that I really don’t think so.