When Yuta Moriya was offered Apple Inc.’s 613-gram iPad by his employer last summer, he envisioned a future free of lugging his laptop around for client visits. He was wrong.
"I used to have to carry my laptop, a charger and some brochures," said Moriya, 29, a used-car salesman at Tokyo-based Gulliver International Co. "After the iPad, I carried the iPad, a charger for the iPad, the laptop, the charger for the laptop and the brochures."
Salarymen like Moriya are reluctant to embrace iPad tablets, the fastest-growing segment in the computer industry, because they aren’t light enough or functional enough to replace laptops in Japan.
Yusuke Ohki’s 2,000 books were crowding out his Tokyo apartment, so he scanned them all into an Apple iPad. Six months later the 28-year-old is running a 120-strong startup doing the same thing for customers.
Japan’s cramped living conditions and the arrival of the iPad in May have spawned as many as 60 companies offering to turn paper books into e-books as publishers have been slow to provide content for new electronic readers.
Japan has lagged behind the U.S. in introducing e-books because of a rigid pricing system, uncertainty over copyrights and early problems reproducing Japanese characters on screens, according to Toshihiro Takagi, an analyst at market researcher Impress R&D in Tokyo.
"People are taking matters into their own hands because the publishers are not meeting the market’s needs," Takagi said.
With this system, the pictures shown on the iPad can be exactly the same as those on the conventional menu. The system makes intuitive use of the iPad’s user interface; for example, pictures can also be enlarged by pinching.
“Here, we’re using the iPad, but Sharp also plans to release an e-book reader. If people’s reaction to the iPad system is good, we’ll commercialize it. Meanwhile, we’re thinking of selling a system with the same application on the Sharp e-book reader.”