Time and time again, Japan has been handed a ball someone else made and scored a touchdown with it. Forget about "made in Japan", more like "made BETTER in Japan!" Want proof? Here are Ten Ways The Japanese Do It Better...
1) Home Audio: A Shocking Record of SuccessSony TR-55, the Walkman's Grandpa
"From little acorns, mighty Oaks will grow"... and for Japan's Sony, those seeds were named TR-55 and TR-610. The former was Sony's first successful commercial transistor radio, made with transistors of their own design licensed from Bell Labs and utilizing printed circuit boards, soon to become commonplace but innovative for the mid-fifties. The TR-610, which hit the US market in 1958 was the first transistor radio to break the 500,000 sales barrier. But hold on, what happened to the Regency TR-1, the world's first commercial transistor radio? Landing on American retail store shelves with a resounding thud in late 1954, the TR-1 was priced at $49.95 - a whopping $364 in 2005 dollars. Remember Regency? Me neither. Reliable, desirable products, reasonably priced... a mantra that led Sony and a host of other Japanese home electronics companies to industry leadership. (image via IDE Virtual Design Museum )
2) Home Video: Seeing is BelievingSony Blu-ray: Doing Beta one Betta
Much like the transistor radio, the video recorder was not invented in Japan. Thank goodness Sony and JVC decided to re-engineer the darned thing, though. The VRX-1000 Ampex introduced in 1956 used 2" wide tape and cost $50,000 - don't ask me what that is in today's dollars! The Great Format War of the late '70s resulted in better VCRs at lower prices, proving that a little good ol' American competition can spur Japanese companies on to even greater success in the marketplace. And so it goes... today, Sony's Blu-ray and the Toshiba/NEC backed HD DVD optical disc storage systems are battling it out for marketplace dominance. How to display the brilliant images being generated by these advanced players? Only the world's finest LCD and Plasma screens made by the likes of Sony, Panasonic and more! (image via AV-Land )
3) Cell Phones from the Future Tokyo calling...
Ahh, but we love our cell phones... yet most Americans don't know what they're missing when it comes to mobile phone capabilities. Blame it on TRON... not the classic Jeff Bridges sci-fi flick, the common operating system that allows Japanese cell phones to seamlessly integrate with just about anything. Most Japanese cell phones incorporate digital cameras that take still and video images, include MP3 and MP4 players, use GPS technology and can function as videophones. They connect to the Internet, can access the "Edy" e-money service and act as bar code readers displaying information and advertising on the screen. Japanese cell phones are literally changing the way Japanese society works, through "keitai culture" or "mobile phone culture". (image via Japan Now )
4) Hybrid Cars Pass Gas... StationsToyota Fuel Cell Concept Car
As befits a country with no natural oil or gas reserves, Japan is a world leader in hybrid vehicle technology. I'm not exaggerating when I say the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius have done more to drive hybrids into the automotive mainstream than any other vehicle made by any other manufacturer. Everyone else is just playing catch-up... and just when they get close, a new generation of fuel cell powered vehicles will leave them in the dust. (image via Toyota )