japan

I just returned from a holiday in Japan, a country with a fascinating culture for electronics. My biggest takeaway is how mainstream gadgets are in Japan; unlike most other countries, there seems to be electronics stores at every corner, with average, everyday kind of people shopping there.

The first impression you get from visiting one is the barrage of colors and signs that beset you. Check out one below:

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As entrepreneurs or as aspiring entrepreneurs, we all have pressure to succeed. Given many of us gave up dependable, rewarding careers to do our own thing, it’s a burden that can weigh heavy at times.

There’s a story out of Japan that’s a good reminder not to lose sight of what’s important: creating real value and not just the perception of it; the satisfaction of a job well done and not the pursuit of celebration and admiration.

That story is disgraced researcher Haruko Obotaka, who earlier this year claimed she discovered so-called STAP cells that can grow into any tissue in the body. For example, it could grow new human organs for sick or injured people who need them. If true, STAP cells would have been game changing for all humanity.

It was the kind of discovery on par with Louis Pasteur and vaccination — and coming from such a young, relatively attractive woman too. And so, unsurprisingly, Obotaka became an instant celebrity and national hero in Japan.

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Xbox’s Japan chief resigned recently due to lackluster sales of the Xbox One in Japan. Only 39,000 units were sold to date; 24,000 of which at launch. That’s horrible.

When it comes to console games in Japan, Microsoft needs to realize it is David not Goliath. Microsoft can’t fight Sony head-to-head, sword-to-sword in Japan. It needs to go guerilla warfare and use a slingshot.

Here’s what I would do if I was chief of Xbox Japan:

Scale back operations. Forget the huge office, the army of people, the national distribution networks. Xbox Japan should think like a start-up and go lean. This will allow them to shift resources to initiatives that actually work, instead of pouring money into hopeless battles.

Embrace the outsider identity. Position Xbox as anti-establishment. Make fun of regular Japanese people who only play regular Japanese games. Paint the Playstation 4 as conformist — you probably wear a suit and bow a lot if you have the Playstation 4. The Xbox One, on the other hand, is about being free. About giving the middle finger to the rigidity of society; basically, American values. 🙂

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Can videogames be a sport?  There’s an article about the subject at The Verge that’s so-so reading, but this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  In my younger days, I was a decent Virtua Fighter player, having won a national tournament in the US.  (That sounds better than it actually is, because the best US players are merely average in Japan and Korea, the meccas of Virtua Fighter players.)

I argue that videogames can and should be considered sports; but there are also fundamental reasons why it may never be an Olympic-worthy one.

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