Able to surf the internet, stand in for credit cards, and check body fat, Japan’s smartphones make ours look primitive—yet we’re sticking with what we have. That’s because Japan’s phone makers have been “a little too clever,” writes Hiroko Tabuchi in the New York Times. Thanks to standards no other country can handle, Japan's manufacturers have created an insular market.
Until recently, Japan’s voracious cellphone market kept its firms growing without venturing much beyond its shores. But in the recession, makers are grappling with a shrinking market, forcing some to weigh a fight for foreign market share. “Japanese cellphone makers need to either look overseas, or exit the business,” says a consultant. That means shifting focus from hardware to software and hiring more foreigners. Sounds daunting, but “it’s not too late,” says an analyst.