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What do you think of the expression "Galapagos effect," that refers to some Japanese companies that prefer to focus on their domestic market and be less influenced by global technology trends?

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Well if you look at the cell phone industry, Japan seems to have totally dismissed the rest of the western world. Whenever I go back to Canada or the US, you can't find a Japanese cell phone for the life of you. The market has been taken over my the Koreans, and good for them. Not sure why Japan decided to go that route, seems like an awfully big market to skip. But I guess they really wanted to focus on their imode and ezweb, and now all of that is about to go kaboom thanks to smart phones and applications.

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Er, are we supposed to be commenting on what we think of the practice, or the term itself? I think whoever coined the term did a pretty good job... it certainly sums up the state of the mobile phone market at least - isolated from the rest of the world.

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Why draw the line at products? I find Galapagos effect to be a perfect description of many Japanese people, who are not only isolated from the world at large, but are estranged from their fellow Nihonjin as well. The only human communications they need, or feel comfortable with, are their keitai meeru-tomo.

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The Jpn phone market has been foreign phobic until of late ever since Motorola was politely told to piss off back in the early 90s & then Jpn went off on its own lonely road until recent when the world kinda forced into cooperating on stds etc

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The cell phone is the best example. Japan is way ahead of the rest of the world in terms of producing content for cell phones, cell phone cameras, use of cell phones to make payments, etc. While the economy was good, there was no need to expand beyond their borders. Now that things are not going well, Docomo, Softbank and others have no idea how to make inroads overseas. So they keep coming out with 25 new lines of cell phones every season and expect gullible consumers to upgrade.

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While I agree that some of the functions Japanese cell phone makers have added are useful the vast majority are useless, like being able to control your TV with your cellphone, give me a break. But I really think this was one instance where they felt they were superior and making scaled down phones was below them. If you look at the auto market they did exactly the opposite, building cars specifically for the US market, and they were able to take over.

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I don't really like the word Galapagos used for that meaning, it makes those companies look arrogant. The Galapagos Islands are unique with unique species, they are however natural species. It may be true that some of those Japanese technologies are also unique but going as far as comparing those to the species of the Galapagos Islands is a bit too much. It also implies Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, yet again to compare yourself with that is a bit over the top. They could have called it the 'Genroku effect' but were probably too scared about that term.

Only thing is that history seems to be repeating itself: First we see popular culture flourishing with new art forms emerging during that isolation but then steady worsening of the financial situation of the government led to higher taxes and riots among the farm population with presures from the outside world leading the whole system to a collapse. This might well be happening to the Galapagos effect in the future too.

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Japan is going to get killed in consumer electronics over the next five to ten years. Unless they impose strict trade tariffs (like they have now on rice nobody will buy Japanese products, except from a nihonjinron standpoint. The quality of ALL foreign consumer electronics will be superior to the Japanese in a few years. Cheaper, better, etc.

Japan is shooting itself in the foot with this whole Galapagos mindset, and as Foxie pointed out, the term isn't really appropriate. I think a better term would "I can't win the game so I'm going to take my marbles and go home" effect, or the "sour grapes" effect.

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Focusing on domestic markets is simpler in many ways but it certainly puts an upper limit on growth, especially with a shrinking population.

I think the expression itself is kind of dumb - don't most companies in most countries focus on their domestic markets? It wasn't even that long ago that the US mobile market was on a bit of an island, too - my US mobile never worked overseas in the 90s.

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The J-cellphone market could become like what the J-PC market was in the early 90's. At that time, J-PCs were going it on their own, till the overwhelming adoptation of apps for Macs and IBM-PC clones pushed out native J-PCs.

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They should more appropriately refer to themselves as the "Ostrich with its head in the sand" effect, because that is what Japan is doing, socially and economically.

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Galapagos translation: Cartels

Cartel translation: Control domestic market by limiting foreign products

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Well the Daily Yomiuri, in an editorial earlier this week, felt this was a very fair charaterization of much of current-day Japan. In fact, while they stated that the Galapagos effect was certainly responsible for much of Japan's success in the post-war era, since it protected the Japanese market from competition, it is now a real problem. They even went so far as to say that they are concerned that this effect is now reflected in young people's attitudes, and will only make Japan less competitive. They noted the increasing number of Japanese companies now hiring foreigners, since they need them for doing business overseas. Which does not bode well for Japanese students, who don't want to study abroad, and have terrible foreign language skills. All with a shrinking domestic market.

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Galapagos is just one device out of many out there in Japan. Consumers who choose this cell format are making a free choice, like choosing to wear Kimono.

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