Carlos, our correspondent in Japan has sent us his diaries from MacWorld Expo Tokyo. This is a great account that let's those of us who have not experienced a Japanese MacWorld get a taste of what it is a like.
this is Carlos in Japan, back from the Tokyo MacWorld Expo. Last Saturday I attended the expo with my wife. We are both mac users, although she uses hers mostly for e-mail (with Post-Pet 2000 software). This was her first time to any computer show so she was surprise about how many people were in attendance. The line to enter the show was very long and although we were in the back of the line, we were able to quickly enter the show. I felt that many of the users were new iMac customers. People stampeded towards the Apple booth to get iMac posters. It was crazy. If you have ever been to Japan and taken the subway at peak time you will know what I mean. I thought we would be crushed. My wife used her ninja abilities to somehow float over the crowd to get us two posters. We need one for our computer room, and one for my office at work (Japanese company) that is full of the latest PC hardware.
It seemed that the show was smaller than the US shows but there was still much to see. Actually the hall had a lot more room for the vendors to "Spread out." But perhaps the organizers wanted the feeling that the hall was packed. Anyway, it would have better for the customers if there was more room in the aisle. In some places if you stopped to look you were pushed forward or backwards. Most of the big developers were from the states. Adobe had the most effective booth in my opinion. It was very "cool" and inspiring to watch the demos. Interware (under a different name in the US) displayed their "hardware." I think their booth was the most watch due to the two bouncing sexy girls they used for their "get in shape" demo. In fact, it is a real Japanese standard to use "companion girls" at Expos in Japan. They mostly stand around and hand out information and let the customers take pictures of them. Usually their uniforms are very sexy and very retro 60's-ish. It seems that it appeals to the many Japanese otaku. But I think it is just another form of the big sexual harassment problem in Japan. Back to the show. Most of the products announced or demoed have already or will be released in the states. Japanese versions of software usually come out within a few months of the English version. (I guess it takes time to figure out how much they will increase the price over the US price.) There were some unique products for the Japanese market that were interesting. For example many Photoshop and Illustrator plug-ins. I liked the manga graduation plug-in the best. (Nils Effects is also very nice.)
There is an interesting movie making title called "Anime Studio." Anime of course means Animation in Japanese. ATI displayed a new card that I have never seen. This card seemed aimed at the lower end. I can't remember its name. It costs around 30,000 yen. I don't know if they announced this product in the states yet. Future Basic 3 with Power PC support was also shown along with Supercard 3.5J. I expected to see more at the Metrowerks booth but I walked away thinking "Why not demo the Playstation development system?". Speaking of which, I saw some development tools for the Playstation and Nintendo 64. They looked expensive but powerful.
New Tek's booth had a very realistic movie clip done in Lightwave. After watching the amazing clip for the ninth time my wife pulled me away. I tried to check out some pricing near the retailers booths but gave up. It was just too crazy. I noticed that there were a lot of 3D applications being shown, many of which are not marketed in the states (to my knowledge.) Shade 3 (3D) along with its lower end versions were shown. This is an extremely powerful 3D rendering package used by many Japanese artists. With Strata having a large share of the 3D market in Japan I expected to see a great booth but was a bit let down. (No Power module 2 plug-in.)
Along with 3D, Firewire and USB products were everywhere.
Apple's booth was big. The machines were on stands for the users to touch, pet and envy. The Apple staff blended into the crowd so it seemed that no one was attending their booth.
Microsoft showed Office and Explorer. I watched one demo about how to create a presentation using PowerPoint. It seemed like most of the crowd was in awe. I thought "this is so old hat..." But then I realized that most users in Japan haven't been using computers for such a long time due to the use of hardware word processor machines. So I guess this presentation looked incredible next to the standard OHP presentations that most people use.
Food was plentiful but chairs were not, so we ate sitting down on the floor. I guess for someone from abroad the food seemed exotic and good. But having lived here for such a long time I thought it was average Expo food.
After lunch I went looking for fonts. I always need more fonts for my job. The big gun, Morisawa showed their new technology. As mentioned in another Mac site, Morisawa is the king in Japanese DTP fonts. But at 100-400 dollars per font, I walked right on by. DynaFont makes many nice true-type Fonts and sells them at a good price. A new company "Font pavilion" was selling some VERY cool software. I picked up some of their very cool katakana fonts. (Which would work on a US system I think.) I saw Cluster Works and another program that cycles colors using different patterns. There was also a video editing/making program. All 3 programs would be a boon to Video Disc Jockeys. They also had Post Pet 2000.
I left my notes at home so I am unable to list everything I saw. I'll end the report with a very strange occurrence. We were leaving the show and noticed a large crowd outside in one of the hall ways. They were in a big circle. We couldn't understand what was going on. I said to my wife, "It must by our iGOD, Mr. Jobs. Let's go!" And with that we pressed deeper into the crowd. As we came to the center I began to notice EVERYONE holding a Powerbook (from 100 model to the latest G4 .got you! I mean G3) I began to feel a bit uneasy. We often see someone walking with a laptop, or on an airplane with one, but to see everyone around you with a computer was unnerving. Well, there was no iGOD, just many, many iNerds from a user group. (I didn't confirm that they were a user group.) They were placing their beloved Powerbooks on the floor in nice neat rows. At the edge of the circle a camera man waited to take the picture of 50? 100? 200? Powerbooks with their lids up in formation. My wife and I walked away nodding our heads. I thought "I've used computers for a long time, and love my Mac but that was out of hand. How will they ever know which computer is theirs after the picture is taken?" My wife thought "My husband said Mac users are unique, but that was crazy..Maybe they are too different..."
As we left we saw a bus with iMacs all over it. Many Japanese otaku were running after it to take pictures. Since my last article about Apple's distribution in Japan, I decided to visit some stores. Yes, I found many iMacs and Apple stuff..but it was like heaven compared to the rest of Japan. (I loved the store selling a Mac Plus for 600 dollars!)