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3.25.2013

Cheaper, More TLC, and Same Speed - Yamato's Edge over DHL and Other Couriers

Japanese private courier Yamato does not have a monopoly on express delivery of small packets to Asia - the likes of DHL and FedEx have their own planes and operate their own hubs to do just that. So what makes Yamato so confident against DHL, FedEx, and one-time and long time joint venture partner UPS?


The quality of service? Prices?

15,900 yen vs. 6,450 yen
DHL has over 30% market share in the Asian international express courier market. Anything they pick up from Japan can be delivered on the following day at most Asian destinations.

Put it in a standard box where each of the dimensions (height, width, and depth) is less than 30 cm, and DHL will charge you 15,900 yen per shipment.

If you gave a 10 kg parcel with the sum of the three dimenstions being less than 100 cm to Yamato as a business client based in the Kanto area, you will pay 6,450 yen.

If the lead time is the same, that is a significant price difference.

Up to now, such price competitiveness has been the domain of posts and EMS, but EMS is a "deferred service" and will take 2 to 7 days... PLUS, a 10kg EMS parcel to Asia ia 10,200 yen!

How did Yamato manage its rock bottom prices?

Even for next day delivery, Yamato will not change its operations and will use ANA for the line haul to keep costs down. DHL has its own fleet based in Narita International Airport, Kansai International Airport (Osaka), and Chubu International Airport (near Nagoya), and hubs out of Hong Kong.

In the Nikkei Marketing Journal article, Yamato has revealed that items collated at the Rakuten logistics facility or collected in the Kansai region will depart on the 0:00 flight out of Haneda (Tokyo) to Naha, or the 0:05 flight from Kansai International Airport (Osaka) to Naha, Okinawa.

The former arrives at 2:35 am and the latter at 2:10 am.

After clearing export customs,
a 3:20 am flight to Shanghai will take the goods and arrive at 4:25 am.

a 5:15 am flight to Hong Kong arrives at 6:50 am.

a 6:25 am flight to Taiwan arrives at 6:55 am.

With these arrival times at destination, delivery within the same day or next day from arrival is possible.

Japan Post uses a range of carriers from JAL to ANA to other airlines, and goods depart from various gateways directly from the Honshu Island, and not Okinawa. The delivery at destination is by their postal counterparts with intra-postal rates in Asia determined through bilateral agreements on a commercial basis as EMS is not part of the "universal service obligation" which designates the right to communicate by mail a universal service that a country must guarantee to all its citizens at affordable prices. Yet, sadly, Yamato has the competitive edge on pricing (though restricted to business customers).

Applying Japanese Standards in the Way Parcels Are Handled
In Asian cities, it is common for a single vehicle to be operated by a single driver to keep costs down. But the standards applied to the handling of parcels can be quite lax, with throwing parcels into the back of a truck being the norm.

"Even global couriers are rough compared to the way Japanese couriers handle packages," says a logistics consultant interviewed by the Nikkei Marketing Journal.

Yamato Broke Ground in International Perishables Deliveries
DHL has not yet commenced delivery of food items from Japan to other Asian destinations, which gives Yamato an edge.

Japan Post and Singapore Post as well as Japan Post and Hongkong Post have teamed up to follow suit, but tests do not commence until April 2013.

Yamato and other Japanese couriers are far behind DHL, FedEx, UPS, and TNT in terms of international expansion, but they are tackling it in a very different way and may very soon become serious forces to be reckoned with.

Related article:
Fresh Seafood Direct From Japan to HK - Chilled and Frozen Shipments in 1 to 2 Days

Reference:
22 March 2013 Nikkei Marketing Journal Cover story


Working Women's "It" Bags Get Heavier - Average is 3.9kg, 1.4kg HEAVIER than 2012


50.4% of working women surveyed online by the Nikkei WOMAN Official Site (634 respondents) say they own a smartphone. That is more than a 20 percentage point increase from 2012, and the first time more than 50% own one. 8.9% said they own a tablet PC, up from 6.2% the previous year.

So why in the world are working women's handbags getting heavier?

It has become tradition for Nikkei WOMAN to run the story that shows what bags real working women are using and what they carry inside them. This year, the featured women in the article seem to be carrying an average of 1.4kg more than last year, with the average bag (complete with contents) weighing 3.9kg.

In the last couple of years, "Danshari" - a movement spearheaded by self-proclaimed Clutter Consultant and the latest clean up guru, Hideko Yamashita - has been the in thing and everything from fashion to popular celebrities to dining out has been shifting towards "simple chic." So it seems the editorial staff were expecting bags to get lighter. But they were wrong.

The reason is three-fold:

1. Digitalization

2. Conservation or saving

3. Preparing for the worst

Let's look into each of them and their impact in detail:

Digitalization Means More Digital Gadgets and Peripherals
Women who work in PR, consulting, sales, and other roles that require them to go out for meetings has them carrying PCs, smartphones, digital cameras, and peripherals.



Of the featured women in the Nikkei WOMAN article, the lady who had the heaviest bag at 5.7kg is a 29-year old PR staff at an apparel company. She has a tablet PC for work, business smartphone (provided by the office), personal smartphone, portable music player, chargers, and a digital camera, just to name the digital stuff she has.

"I think my bag is too heavy, too, but the digital tools I need for work cannot be spared," she says.

Conservation or Saving Means a Packed Lunch Box and a 500cc Thermos
A 27-year old system engineer says she takes a packed lunch and a thermos full of tea to the office every day.

"I am very conscious about saving money in my daily life and spend what I save on my hobbies like going to a live performance by my favourite artist," she comments.

There were other women with packed lunches, some of whom would bring only white rice and buy side dishes.

Memories of 3.11 Die Hard - Preparing for the Worst
There is an obvious increase in the number of women who carry chargers, bottled waqter, chocolate, candy, LED lights, and a disaster relief map and some other disaster response items since the Great East Japan Earthquake of 3.11 2011.

In the questionnaire, it became evident that 30% of women carry some kind of disaster response item in their bags every day, clearly indicating that even after two years, the memories of 3.11 die hard.

### Carpediemjapan Comments and Observations ###

According to the 3rd and 2011 Edition of the Brand Databank research report on what brand bags women own,
Women aged 25 to 29 own the following:
1. Coach
2. Louis Vuitton
3. Gucci
4. Porter
5. Samantha Thavasa
6. Chanel
7. Hermes
8. Prada
9. Anna Sui
10. Marc Jacobs

Women aged 30 to 34 own the following:
1. Coach
2. Louis Vuitton
3. Gucci
4. Prada
5. Porter
6. Le Sport Sac
7. Hermes
8. Chanel
9. Samantha Thavasa
10. Kate Spade

But when it comes to actual bags they commute with, the attributes they want seem very practical - "big enough to hold an A4 file," "has studs on the bottom so the bag does not get dirty when placed on the floor,""is light weight," and "has many pockets."

After years of insisting on real leather and gold color metal parts, I am beginning to see the benefits of coated canvas as my digital portfolio grows, too.

3.22.2013

Fresh Seafood Direct From Japan to HK - Chilled and Frozen Shipments in 1 to 2 Days

Japanese airline ANA and private courier Yamato have tag-teamed to realize 1 to 2-day delivery of frozen premium seafood from Japan to Hong Kong, Singapore and other nearby destinations.

Teaming up with Japan's largest e-commerce shopping portal, Rakuten, ANA and Yamato made their first deliveries in time for Chinese New Year. Retailers in Hokkaido and Kyushu advertised special holiday packages on Rakuten.



"We had not expected to receive so many orders," said Managing Director Hiroshi Ogasawara of Yamato Ogasawara Shoten of Hokkaido, who participated in this first campaign. His store offered crab and other seafood sets, and received four times the anticipated number of orders - a total of 80 , from Hong Kong. The abverage basket size was 15,000 yen, which is five times the average of purchases made in the airport souvenir shop the business manages at Hokkaido's Chitose Airport.

The crab was collected by Yamato and first collated at Rakuten's logistics facility in Shinagawa, Tokyo. This was then shipped via air from Haneda Airport on a late night flight operated by ANA to Naha, Okinawa, where the cargo was transferred to an international flight to Hong Kong. Once in Hong Kong, Yamato made the last mile delivery.




In this instance, it took two days from collection to deliver, but Yamato claims that a minimum delivery time of next day is physically possible.

Rakuten commenced international e-commerce services in 2008, and now has approximately 7,000 merchants active on the site. However, due to the shipping restrictions, the goods sold have been predominantly apparel and accessories.

"High quality Japanese food is in demand from Asian consumers; but chilled shipping was a bottle neck." The latest test has proven that "there is much potential in reaching out and expanding the business in Asia," says Katsuhiko Hiwatashi, Director in charge of Overseas Sales at Rakuten.

A second test has commenced from 18 March.

ANA and Yamato's collaboration does not stop at supporting Rakuten's new strategy. In November 2012, ANA and Rakuten established a framework to realize a minimum lead time of "next day delivery" to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia. The last mile in all the destinations will be handled by Yamato's own delivery network.

Shipments can be collected from Kanto (Tokyo and its vicinity) as well as Kansai (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and their vicinity) areas. The initial service will commence with documents, and gradually expand to ordinary small packets and even refrigerated shipments during the current fiscal year.

This service was made possible because Naha, Okinawa now enables 24-hour customs clearance and has no restrictions on late night flights, and is conveniently only four hours away from the major Asian cities. At Narita in Tokyo, where there are restrictions on custom clearance and flight operations hours, the shortest delivery lead times are three days.

In addition to the test with Rakuten, Yamato worked with Yahoo! in Hong Kong to promote the sales of apples from Nagano Prefecture in mid-January. 200 boxes sold out in one day - solid proof that there is indeed strong demand for fresh produce from Japan. Fresh apples are available at Japanese department stores in Hong Kkong as well, but "consumers were moved by the notion of having them delivered straight from the farms," says Yamato's Global Business Promotions Division.

JAPAN POST AND JAL TO COMMENCE REFRIGERATED SERVICES TO SINGAPORE AND HONG KONG
Japan Post has teamed up with flag carrier Japan Airlines (JAL) to commence test shipments of chilled goods to Taiwan and Singapore in April 2013 as well. A chilled re-usable case has been jointly developed for this purpose. JAL will carry the cases and the destination post offices - Singapore Post and Hongkong Post - will handle the last mile delivery. The re-usable cases are large enough to hold a medium size Yu Pack parcel box and is capable of maintaining the inner temperature at 2 to 10 degrees for up to approximately 80 hours. "If the destination was not in tropical Asia, the temperature can be maintained much longer," says Japan Post.

The test will initially be restricted to shippers sending goods from the areas covered by Hokkaido's Chitose Post Office and Kawasaki's Kawasakiko (Kawasaki Bay) Post Office, but will gradually be expanded. Goods collected by the Kawasakiko Post Office may be delivered on the following day, but those originating from other locations will be delivered in two days from collection.

NITTSU PROMOTES PRODUCE E-COMMERCE AS PART OF RECOVERY EFFORT
In 2012, another private courier, Nittsu, has won a contract by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) to assist in the post-earthquake recovery of the Tohoku region by promoting produce via e-commerce. Nittsu has created a designated e-commerce site on Yahoo! posting products by 64 businesses including Japanese beef, Inaniwa noodles, and necklaces made of Nanbu steel. 70% of the approximately 6,800 items they shipped have been sold in Taiwan through February 2013, either online or at stalls Nittsu have established at events and at popular shopping areas.

Nittsu says at first, they struggled as the number of products available were limited as well, but such efforts as the stalls and Nittsu staff appearing on local news programs have helped raise awareness and realized quick sales growth.

"Just carrying the goods over here alone is not enough. It is key to do the promotions as part of the package," says Nittsu's Global Logistics Solutions Division General Manager Haruya Tajima.

The METI program comes to an end at the end of this month, but Nittsu plans to launch a new service in its place from April by drawing on its established know-how. Nittsu will open a new site to promote the goods and hold business events where sellers can sit down with Taiwanese retailers. Japanese businesses who are interested in participating need only to hand over their goods to Nittsu and pay a nominal fee of several thousands of yen per month.

SAGAWA SHOWS STRENGTH IN VIETNAM THOUGH NOT YET IN CHILLED OR NEXT DAY BUSINESS
SG Holdings, owner of Yamato's rival courier service, Sagawa Express, has takkyubin (small packet express delivery) services operations in Shanghai, Guangzhao, and Vietnam. The Chinese operations is through a joint venture and the Vietnamese business is a subsidiary. There are no significant next-day or chilled shipment services announced as yet, but while other major couriers only deliver to major cities in Vietnam, Sagawa's strength is that it covers the outskirts of Hanoi and Ho Chi Ming with approximately 100 delivery trucks.

### CarpediemJapan Comments and Observations ###
While refrigerated small parcels delivery may sound novel and worthy of hefty surcharges in other markets, Yamato has made it a cost of doing business in parcels delivery here in Japan and it is now offered by Japan Post as well as Sagawa at very reasonable prices.

With Yamato, refrigerated shipping is available for four sizes and surcharges of 210 yen to 610 yen per item apply.

Japan Post has a two-tiered pricing structure based on whether the shipment needs to be merely refrigerated or frozen, and classified by total weight of shipment, not size:

Light blue (top row) is for refrigerated
Gray (bottom row) is for frozen
Once again, the surcharge is from 180 yen (frozen goods up to 4kg) to 640 yen (frozen or refrigerated goods up to 21kg or 30kg respectively).

The service has definitely squeezed out the florist network service that enabled consumers to place orders with their local florist to have a network member local florist at destination to deliver fresh flowers as florists throughout Japan can sell via e-commerce to consumers anywhere for delivery direct via refrigerated shipments.

For my family, ordering ice cream cake made of fresh milk by a specialist near a dairy farm for birthdays have become a norm, as well as receiving crab and other fresh seafood from family in Hokkaido and friends in Hiroshima (famous for oysters).

Yamato initially developed the "direct from farms and ports" services as a way to help boost the local economies of farming and fishing communities that were losing its workforce to major cities due to lack of work. In some areas it has become so successful, people have migrated back to their hometowns.

The Japanese are known to pay for convenience and to be spoiled for it. Now that Japanese businesses are reaching out to our Asian neighbors to spoil them in the same way, how will the local businesses respond?

See also: Cheaper, More TLC, and Same Speed - Yamato's Edge over DHL and Other Couriers

Reference:
Nikkei MJ 22 March 2013 Cover Story,
Rakuten Promotion Site:
Rakuten: Discover Gourmet Japan! Premium Seafood Shipped Directly to Hong Kong - Shopping Japanese products from Japan

3.18.2013

"Surprise" Bonuses Boost Consumption - For Now

Large businesses in Japan have begun to respond to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's call for higher wages by agreeing to unions' demands for salary and or bonus payments. At some leading retail companies, there were some extraordinary bonus payments that came as a very pleasant and welcome surprise, which seems to have done just what the Prime Minister had hoped - boost consumption. At least in the immediate term, says The Nikkei Marketing Journal today in its leading article.

However, while the "Abenomics" impact of a weaker yen and higher stock prices has already created some winners, after years of deflation and a consumption tax hike in 2014 on the cards, ongoing spending increases may be a bit too much to ask - at least for now.

Hankyu Department Store Umeda
- consumers queuing up to get in to the number one
department store in the Osaka Umeda district


50% SAY THEY WILL SPEND IT ALL - EXTRAORDINARY BONUS, EXTRAORDINARY SPENDING PLANS
The Nikkei Marketing Journal spoke to ten employees each from eyeware retail chain JINS, who paid out an extraordinary bonus of 6% of annual pay to all its employees at the end of February, and online hotel booking site operator Ikkyu, who paid out 500,000 yen bonuses to all their employees.

Of the 20 people interviewed, two at Ikkyu and 7 at JINS said they "plan to spend all of it," making the total 50% of those asked. Since Ikkyu's payment is quite significant, there are larger sums being committed to savings, but one person said he plans to spend 400,000 yen and two said they will spend 300,000 yen. On average, 50% of the Ikkyu payment is being saved and 80% of the JINS bonuses are being put away.

The most obvious trend among the spenders seems to be one of "inflationary spending" or to "upgrade" on spending they had already planned.

"We were going to have a really private wedding, but now we can review that," says a 36 year old woman at Ikkyu.
"The bonus has enabled my dream to buy a four-seater convertible a reality, so I am using the bonus as a down payment," says a 37-year old man at JINS.

A 35-year old employee at JINS said, "my wife had not counted on this bonus so it is a real pleasant surprise, and because of this, it will be easier for married men to spend the money."
"If it was around 100,000 yen, I would probably save it all, but with 500,000 yen, I am prepared to spend some money," says a 37-year old woman at Ikkyu.

On the other hand, Seven & I Holdings, the owner of convenience store chain Seven Eleven and the Ito Yokado chain of supermarkets among other retail stores, and Japan's largest retail conglomerate, agreed to base salary increases across the board for its Ito Yokado employees. When Nikkei Marketing Journal asked ten Ito Yokado employees about how the promised wage hikes will impact their spending (of which eight have families with children of school age), nine said they plan to spend more.

A 40-year old man said, "because this is a base salary increase, it will have longer-term impact and we will have time to think about how we will spend it."

For the child-raising families, their increases are supposed to be higher, so it was no surprise that five out of the ten interviewed said they will increase the number of classes/activities they enroll their children in.

It is the first time in four years for Ito Yokado to offer salary raises, and since the anticipated financial results for the period ending in February 2013 is a 34% decline in operating profit, several interviewees said "we knew it was a tough time for the business, so it really came as a surprise."

LUXURY SPENDING ON THE RISE
It is now two years since the 3.11 tsunami and earthquake disaster, which left a significant drop in luxury spending by the upper-middle class in Japan. But as Abenomics is kicking in, some luxury spending is enjoying growth in the form of attracting a wider audience.

Kamikochi Imperial Hotel in Nagano Prefecture launched an overnight stay with two meals package that includes round trip transportation by a driver who is a qualified medical caregiver for approximately 250,000 yen. As of 14 March, they have 22 bookings for the service. Overall bookings for the property is up 10% over the previous year and the Imperial Hotel says that a more diverse age group of customers are making bookings.

At Takashimaya Department Store, Japan's largest with stores throughout Japan, has enjoyed a 17% rise in luxury sales in February 2013, and watches for the same period grew by 25%. According to a non-Japanese luxury watch brand, the most popular price range was between 700,000 yen and 3 million yen after the earthquake, but since the last elections that brought Abe and the Liberal Democrats back into power, "activity on the sales floor has significantly changed."

Tiffany & Co., Japan Managing Director Daniel Perel says, "more affluent Japanese are shopping more now," as the brand saw an increase in sales of luxury jewelry priced at 3 million yen and higher even before the elections.

However, one must take note that some of the luxury spending happening now is boosted by the announcements by brands of planned price increases in response to the weaker yen.

Second hand retailer of branded luxury items, BrandOff of Kanazawa city saw its inventory of 500 Hermes Birkin handbags fly off the shelves between the end of 2012 and New Year's. Most of the buyers were not Japanese, but Asian buyers who speculated on the currency movement.

So, among all this hype and the extraordinary circumstances, will there be real consumption growth?

At Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi Department Store, a popular destination for some of Tokyo's more conservative wealthy, there was a 30% increase in tailor-made suits retailing for around 200,000 yen, and a 10% increase in shoes sales. "It may still just be led by optimism, but even the more conservative and careful men have begun to loosen their purse strings a bit," says Store Manager Naoki Sanzu.

Restaurants that offer courses priced around 10,000 yen a person that are used for special occasions are now enjoying some increase in customers. Subzero, a restaurant in Yokohama city and is known for its fantastic panoramic view of Yokohama harbour says that "we hardly had any female customers making reservations for some time, but now, we have around 20 bookings by women a week."

Tokyo Bay dinner cruise operator Crystal Yacht Club, based in Shinagawa, says bookings by individual customers has gone up by more than 23% over pre-earthquake levels.

In Fukuoka, luxury select shop Minority Rev Hirao Store has had five to six customers come in per month in 2013 who purchase more than 1 million yen at a time. President Hiroyuki Hayashi says, "we can't really be sure that the positive impact in Tokyo will make it to the regional cities for another six months," but already, their sales in January and February are 10% to 20% higher than the same period last year.

STILL CAUTIOUS ABOUT DAILY EXPENDITURES
Surprise bonuses lead to unplanned spending, but the longer term positive impact seems to be something we have yet to see. There are no immediate increases in such indicators as travel during spring break and sports club memberships, which often link to rise in stock prices. But after speaking to employees at businesses that have pledged salary increases, there seems to be some hope that significant increases in spending may begin to show in some figures.

Kobe beef won't yet be on dinner table regularly
Kobe beef won't be on the regular dinner plans except for special occasions



However, even among employees who received extraordinary bonuses, every one of them said that their plans on daily and regular expenditures will be "unchanged."
"Until I get a base salary increase, it will be difficult to change that. An extraordinary bonus is just that."

A 29-year old employee at Ikkyu, who experienced zero bonuses and benefit cuts with his previous employer says, "If I raise my standard of living, it is hard to cut back when my salary decreases."

Private investors who have already benefited from Abenomics seems to be even more level-headed about the future outlook. When the Nikkei Marketing Journal interviewed ten participants at a World Investors Travel Cafe event, nine said "we will not increase our consumption." From past experience, "a mere three good months is not enough for me to change my spending habits," says a 42-year old man.

There is also a very high concern for the anticipated increase in prices as a result of the waker yen. A 46-year old private investor says, "(it means that) salaries will remain the same but prices will go up." A 33-year old employee of a company that has promised salary increases says, "I will need to study the balance between the salary increase and rise in expenditures as a result of price increases before I can commit to higher spending."

Toshihiro Nagahama, Chief Economist at Dai Ichi Life Economics Research Institute says that the series of salary increases promised this spring will probably result in a much faster rise in income than in past economic recovery phases, but "it will still take some time before the positive impact can be felt over the rise in expenditures."

Even among the manufacturing sector, unions have won full commitment to their demands for bonuses, but base salary increases are still limited and not across the board. As such, we do not yet have the momentum of increased income generating higher spending that will enable us to get out of the deflationary cycle.

Reference:
18 March 2013 Nikkei Marketing Journal front page articles

3.13.2013

40% Surveyed Say Solo Consumption of Leisure Increased

39.3% of respondents to a survey of city-dwelling single, childless men and women in their 20s through 40s said they are consuming more on their own than they did three years ago. 

The Nikkei released survey results on 1,000 city-dwelling single men and women in their 20s through 40s who have no children, conducted online by Macromill on 18 through 19 January 2013. 

55.5% of young adults in their 20s said "because I am connected to my friends online, I do not feel lonely when I go out to eat or for some leisure on my own." This is more than 10 percentage points higher than respondents in their 40s, indicating that the young adults are more digitally connected, and thus, have less need for physical company. 

Interestingly, when these "do it solo" consumers were divided into four groups - True Solos who prefer to be alone and do not wish to contact people digitally when out on their own; Masked Solos who enjoy being alone but want to stay connected to friends; Part Time Solos; and Anti-Solos who enjoy being with friends and want to stay connected even when they are alone - the True Solos are the largest, at 46.0%, and Anti-Solos were the minority at only 10.9%.

In terms of spending, 36.3% said they are indeed spending more on a monthly basis than three years ago with 40.0% of the Masked Solos in their 20s being the largest group to say so. 

So, what do they spend on?

55.5% of men who eat out alone said they go to beef bowl places while 64.0% of women said they go to self-service coffee shops. 

Other destinations for men are:
No.2 ramen (noodle) shops
No.3 self service coffee shops
No.4 western fast food restaurants
No.5 soba (buckwheat noodles) and udon restaurants

For women, they are:
No.2 western fast food restaurants
No.3 full service coffee shops
No.4 casual restaurants
No.5 ramen shops

For future consumption, men said they would like to go out for beef noodles and travel domestically alone, while women said they would like to go to self service coffee shops and the movies.

75.7% of respondents said that they would like to be able to enjoy going out on their own in their old age.

### CarpediemJapan.com views and observations ###
Already in Japan, there are some karaoke boxes that cater specifically to solo customers, and dropping into any coffee shop - be it Starbucks, Doutor, or Veloce - will mean seeing many solo customers who are not necessarily waiting for friends to show up. 

Stand up bars in popular locations that offer tapas style small dishes, once the "urban oasis" for the middle aged white collar men are also increasing in popularity, even among older working women, as a casual place they could drop by on their own. Perhaps because many are not too closed in or only have short curtains instead of walls. 

Even before Starbucks starting pushing the "third place" concept, coffee shops in Japan have been that third place where businessmen may stop by on their way to work for a 500-yen breakfast which may typically be some toast, hard boiled egg, small salad, and coffee; ow where a housewife sits down for a coffee and a slice of cake on her way home from groceries shopping; or a hideout for a middle aged man on a weekend to sit quietly with a book away from his family.

And who could blame us? We have 1/4 of the population of the US living on 1/25 of the land mass, with only 28% of it being arable. We are literally on top of each other all the time, so finding some space to be alone is a luxury, especially for city dwellers. 

Yet, in this survey, in the open question section about what kind of future services they would like to see, some said "buffet restaurants for solo customers," and "casual restaurants specifically for solo customers" - indicating that there is a need for a specific destination for people to go solo, as opposed to going solo into venues meant for families and groups. Perhaps this is very typical of the Japanese who like to be like the others and not stand out. (I do not believe this is because they want to go to these places to meet other singles or solos.)

3.04.2013

Replay that Concert on Your SmartPhone - New Service TAKE OUT LIVE Launches in Japan


Fans of group, TRIPLANE, who held their Tokyo concert (TRIPLANE 10th Anniversary Flight from Tokyo) as the final performance of their all-Japan 10th Anniversary tour, on 10 February 2013 were able to do a TAKE OUT of the live performance they just saw via Phonex Communications' TAKE OUT LIVE.
TAKE OUT LIVE is a service newly launched by Phonex Communications that enables users to take home concerts, seminars, and other live video contents via a smartphone app. 
Singer Goro Noguchi, who came up with the concept now has an approved patent for the technology, and Phonex operates and provides the service. At the concert or event venue, attendees will receive a card or goods with a QR code printed on them. After the event, when the QR codes are read by the app pre-installed on their smartphones, users will be able to access the just-uploaded live recording of the concert or event (see image 1 below by the Nikkei). The video will be recorded during the live performance and uploaded as soon as the performance is finished.

写真1 専用アプリ「TakeOutLive」でQRコードを読み取っている様子。アプリはiPhone版とAndroid版を用意した
画像の拡大
写真1 専用アプリ「TakeOutLive」でQRコードを読み取っている様子。アプリはiPhone版とAndroid版を用意した
写真2 2012年10月の野口五郎氏のコンサートでは、QRコードをカードに印刷して配布
画像の拡大
写真2 2012年10月の野口五郎氏のコンサートでは、QRコードをカードに印刷して配布
写真3 フォネックス・コミュニケーションズでは、マグカップや団扇などアーティストの関連グッズに同サービスのQRコードを印刷し、販売するといった形態も考えている
画像の拡大
写真3 フォネックス・コミュニケーションズでは、マグカップや団扇などアーティストの関連グッズに同サービスのQRコードを印刷し、販売するといった形態も考えている
Image 1 (left): the app, TakeOutLive, is reading the QR code. Apps are offered for both iOS and Android phones. 
Image 2 (center): At Goro Noguchi's concert in October 2012, QR codes were printed on cards that were distributed at the live performance. 
Image 3 (right): Phonex is exploring ways to sell the QR code by printing them on mugs, fans, and other items as well. 
The QR codes are embedded with a unique ID that links the ID with the smartphone terminal ID on the server to enable the consumer to access the contents. (See images 2 and 3 above) Once the unique ID is linked to a terminal, the same QR code ID cannot be used on other devices, thus preventing unauthorized access to the content by people who have not attended the event. 
TAKE OUT LIVE is basically a way for the user to download the video content as it realizes higher quality images than video streaming and Phonex believes it will better satisfy a fan's desire to own the content. Phonex CEO Masahiro Nagakubo says it is possible to charge for the download as well. 
The service was first launched at Goro Noguchi's concert in October 2012 and was used as an official concert perk with the aforementioned TRIPLANE's 10th anniversary concert. 
Reference: Nikkei Computer
歌手・野口五郎氏が特許、スマホでライブ「持ち帰り」  :日本経済新聞