Steven Sinofsky is best known as the executive at Microsoft who turned Office into the company’s second big revenue source in software.
After that, he helped Microsoft recover from its Vista disaster.
These days, Sinofsky is no longer at Microsoft. He’s teaching at Harvard and advising Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. He’s also writing a blog.
On that blog, Sinofsky has written a post about his latest adventure — a recent trip to Japan.
There to meet with some entrepreneurs, he spent also spent a bunch of time observing the consumer electronics scene in Tokyo — the gadgets “being used in the workplace, on the subway, and most importantly for sale in the big stores such as Yodobashi, Bic, and Labi and of course the traditional stalls at Akihabara.”
Here are some of his most interesting observations:
4K TVs are everywhere in stores. “Every manufacturer has displays and touts 4K resolution along with their requisite tricks at upscaling. The prices are still relatively high but the selection is much broader than readily seen in the US. Last year 4K was new at CES and it seems reasonable to suspect that the show floor will be all 4K.”
“The Apple presence in the main stores was almost overwhelming. Much of the first floor and the strategic main entry of Yodobashi were occupied by the Apple store-within-a-store. There were large crowds and as you often see with fans of products, they are shopping the very products they own and are holding in their hands. There has always been a fairly consistent appreciation of the Apple design aesthetic and overall quality of hardware but the widespread usage did not seem to follow. To be balanced, one would have to take note of the substantial presence of the Nexus 5 in the stores, which was substantially and well-visited.”
iPhone adoption is growing very fast in Japan. “While the Android footprint is clearly there, the very fast rise of iPhone, particularly the easily spotted iPhone 5s was impressive. The vast expanse of iPhone accessories for sale nearly everywhere supports the opportunity. A driver for this is that the leading carrier (DoCoMo) is now an iPhone supplier. Returning from town, I saw this article speaking to the rise of iOS in Japan recently, iPhone 5S/C made up 76% of new smartphone sales in Japan this October.”
The most heavily marketed Android phone in Japan right now is the Galaxy J. “This is a model only in Asia right now. It was quite nice. It sports an ID more iPhone-like (squared edges), available in 5c-like colours, along with the latest QC processor, 5″ HD display, and so on. It is still not running Kitkat of course. For me in the store, it felt better than a Galaxy S. Given the intricacies of the US market, I don’t know if we’ll see this one any time soon.”
Tablets are everywhere. “Tablets were omnipresent. They were signage in stores, menus in restaurants, in use on the subway, and in use at every place where people were sitting down and eating/drinking/talking. While in the US we are used to asking “where are all the Android tablets”, I saw a lot of 7″ Android tablets in use in all of those places. One wouldn’t expect the low-priced import models to be visible but there are many Japan OEMs selling Android tablets that could be spotted. I also saw quite a few iPad Minis in use, particularly among students on the trains.”