[Future] Why does all the cool stuff come out in Asia first?
Why is it that Japanese manufacturers have such a death grip on consumer-electronics cool? And why are Americans deprived of the choicest fruits of this technological bounty? The answers to these questions offer an intriguing look at how culture shapes technology -- and vice versa.Japan's gizmo utopia exists in part because of a happy harmonic convergence between its domestic market and its industrial sector (...) America has its share of early adopters, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule (...) Consumer behavior is learned young, and America's relatively low-tech outlook is in part due to a fundamental difference in youth culture in the United States and Japan. "Consumer behavior in Japan is totally driven by the teenagers," (...) Unlike in the United States, where consumer electronics is an overwhelmingly male-driven industry, the critical vector in the propagation of keitai culture was its embrace by adolescent girls. (...) Because the price of shelter is so expensive, Japanese apartments tend to be remarkably cramped. (...) Japanese manufacturers became experts at miniaturizing and creating multiple-function devices (like, say, refrigerators that let you browse the Web) simply because the average consumer really needs the room. "Space is everything, (...) Japanese companies (aided by government subsidies and cheap financial-sector loans) have spent billions of dollars in building out key infrastructure -- for example, widespread ultra-high-speed cell-phone networks and readily available broadband Internet access. (...) the vast majority of American consumers prefers to window shop -- experiencing new technology by proxy rather than shelling out the cash necessary to really own it.