Japanese emoticon | the Galapagos phone
As the previous blog, I wrote about Japanese language’s feature. The letters, especially Kanji shape visual image, like picture.
In this respect, Japanese people follow some sentence with its image in their mind whenever they read some article. It may sounds very convenient but it could easily mislead others by words. This may be because Japanese language itself is vague as pictures looks differently for people. So, it was their hope that the sentence include some visual and exact objects for better communication.
Before iPhone came to Japan, there were unique cell phone culture in Japan. It was so strange that the culture is now often said Galapagos phone, the unique phone.
One of the most strange feature was its texting style. When compared with the US one, any cell phone in Japan had various of emoticon at that time. Whether the cell phone sold better or not depended what kind of emoticon the cell phone had.
There were several phone companies in Japan which are now Docomo, Softbank and AU. And, the kinds of emoticon were different among these companies so it was difficult to show the exact emoticon at different company’s phone. Docomo was pioneer in this business field so its emoticon was so popular and prevent other companies from getting in that business.
At first, even iPhone was difficult to make a business in Japan. The kinds of emoticon was so limited. Even now, I feel it is not enough for Japanese users.
However, the game was changed when iPhone APP Line appeared. Any smartphone which can install this APP can share the more detailed and fun emoticon, which is called Stamp or Stickers in English. To tell the truth, I believed Skype would have win in APP business of toll-free calls because it was well known all over the world. But now in Japan, Line is much more popular than Skype. Is this because Microsoft bought Skype? Well, it maybe but the main reason of this is definitely that Line has various of original stickers witch can be widely shared over different company’s phone device. Even the users of smartphone can create some stickers and earn some fee with them.
Apple seems to be trying to create new unique emoticon recently but it would be very difficult to exceed Line with the phone texting communication tool as it is to Facebook and Twitter. It may be waste of time for Apple to create new emoticon nowadays because most of people do not use Apple’s e-mail for private purpose except business one.
As iPhone APP developer, I respect the business style of Line and I hope Apple not to take over the feature of the smart APP or SNS but to focus to develop the feature only Apple can create. The good harmony of APP and iPhone would make the good business beyond the language wall. Don't absorb everything. The solo development could be Galapagos in the end.