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Computing in Japan: from cocoon to competition

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1 Author(s)
N. Parker Smith ; 4678 Whiting St., Pleasanton, CA, USA

The disparity between computing in Japan and the rest of the world became conspicuous during the 1980s and early 1990s. Elsewhere, new features became prominent in computing, including PCs based on the Wintel standard, open systems, networks, client-server solutions, and parallel architectures. Software became at least as important as hardware. In Japan, most of these new trends were adopted slowly and hesitantly, were applied only in export models, or were ignored outright. In broad terms, adoption of new technologies by Japanese computer manufacturers and the expansion of the Japanese market for computers have until recently lagged behind the US and the rest of the industrialized world. Until only a few years ago, computing in Japan was still defined primarily by mainframes and proprietary systems. Prices remained high. Competition and innovation took place within accepted limits. The author's research has led him to conclude that part of the reluctance is actually a calculated caution. Delaying the adoption of new trends avoids the mistakes and costs of immature technologies. Equally important, Japan had become accustomed to a comfortable computational culture, highly profitable for computer vendors and tolerated by customers. Today, computing in Japan is undergoing a belated transformation as the mainframe culture wanes. Vendors are competing with less politeness, prices are dropping, demand for PCs is surging, and the Internet is being embraced with noisy exuberance

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:30 ,  Issue: 3 )