"Hello, I'm a Mac User and I live in Japan. Let me give you an idea of the REAL situation in Japan. Recently, I have reading all about Apple's success in Japan. I'm left scratching my head. Can it be true?
Apple had a big jump in the market here because it offered a stable system in the Japanese language. Also, as in America, graphic professionals quickly jumped on the bandwagon. Back then Canon (the copier/camera company) was Apple's sales agent in Japan. They really controlled the distribution in Japan. To sell Apple, you had to qualify under the "Mac Masters" program.
Apple no longer uses Canon, and has established Apple Japan to distribute there products. Shops still needed the MacMasters qualifications to sell the Mac line. You can buy Macs at computer stores, electrictronic districts (for example, in Tokyo Akihabara) or mail-order. I think mail-order does alot of business in Apple, because Japanese computer companies control their distridution and pricing so much.
About the time Apple was going through it's trouble in America, I noticed that Mac's began to dissappear from the shelves. (I don't live in Tokyo or Osaka.) When I walked into shops that once had 3 or 4 Macs running, I saw maybe one Mac with a screwed up Finder. And the software?? Not much. There were some localized US programs like Photoshop for around $1000, Claris Works for about $250, and some other top ten programs. Of course there many Hybrid Adult CD-ROMs that Japanese like so much..(But that's another story...)
The iMac came, and non-Mac users new of its existance. I'm sure Apple has sold many iMacs world wide but I suprised that they have REALLy sold many in Japan. Why? Two reasons. The first is that Apple, like in the states, decided on a key company to offer their products. Much like CompUSA. Who did they choose? Shimamura Music Co. They are a musical retail chain. I thought, wow that was stupid. Where is the logic. Apple Japan President said "We want to put the iMac where non-computer users will see it." So let's put it into a music-only store?? I think ti's nuts. WHen I go to my local Shimamura store I feel so sad. There is the iMac on a table. No software, hardware..nothing..(Hey but we got the colored iMacs.) Ok, let's buy one..Who's gonna help the customer? The staff is made of part-time school kids and musicians. I would never buy a computer there. (Only if I was interested in MIDI maybe.) So this was a great blunder I think on Apple's part. I think they are selling the iMacs through mail-order mostly.
Another pet peeve is NO Apple Japan on-line store. This is Apple's second biggest market and we don't have an on-line store? This is crazy because
brace yourself... 70% of Japan is very rural.
The Mac has about 7 magazines here devoted to it!! (Not bad, eh?) The loan program was good. The IMac style really appeals to females and trend setters here.
I think Apple needs a new CEO here. Have Steve live in Japan for 3 months to get things done right. (Hey, he'll love the food.) Drop Shimamura Music, and sign on Yamada Denki and Besk Deni as the ONLY retail dealers. Make them build an Apple store inside there locations. Get Apple Japan online store up. Give us a new SMALL powerbook. (Japanese don't mind small keyboard...Really! In fact my co-workers use laptops with 8 inch keyboards!) I also think that Japan would go nuts for a pink iMac.