This Week in Tablets: Second Screens in Japan, and Microsoft’s Office failure

April 13, 2013
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One of the very first feature stories we published on TabTimes was an analysis of the tablet market and its potential in Japan.

This week, I've been lucky enough to spend 7 straight days in Tokyo, and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with the minimal presence of tablets everywhere I travelled.

I literally didn’t see a 10-inch iPad anywhere. Not on the train, not in hotels, not in meetings. Not anywhere. I did see numerous e readers on the train. And lots of iPhones, of course.

This concerned me. I was in Tokyo to present a tablet solution for video games to Japanese game publishers.

Without getting overly self-promotional, I was demonstrating a new project by Wikia (that’s where I work as the director of content programming) that automatically delivers appropriate guide/walkthrough/ancillary content related to specific locations in a game. 

Like all things Wikia, the content for this app comes straight from various community-generated gaming wikis that fall under the Wikia domain.  It’s not commercially available yet, but the app and underpinning technology has been well-received in the States and the game publishers we met with loved it.

But if no one uses a tablet, the whole concept of a second screen app is pretty useless, right?

Thankfully, after doing some research, it turns out that I was wrong about tablet adoption in Japan. People do have tablets, but they’re largely used at home versus at work, or commuting to work. And, not surprisingly given the lack of space in Tokyo, smaller 7-inch devices are much more popular.

All this said, Japanese culture is still enamored with physical media. CD and DVD sales are robust, as are paper-based newspapers and magazines and manga comics. And streaming audio and video have been only slowly adopted.

It stands to reason that the tablet revolution is moving a little slower here in Japan, and/or is being disrupted by smartphones on the go, and connected televisions in the home.  Parks Associates conducted a survey that found four out of five smart TV owners use apps regularly.

One thing I did notice in Tokyo is a noticeable presence by Microsoft advertisements for its Surface tablet. A few different train station lobbies had large TV display ads touting the device.

Perhaps Microsoft will find a market for its rumored 7-inch Surface tablet here?

This week’s loser: Microsoft

Talk about blowing it. Last year, rumors indicated that Microsoft would be releasing MS Office for the iPad this spring. Those rumors were wrong—it now appears that the iOS and Android incarnation of Office may not arrive until 2014.

Office isn’t going way anytime soon—it’s still the de facto productivity suite for most businesses. However, missing the iOS boat by a full three years probably means that one of the most famous pieces of software of all time will be a non-player in the tablet space for quite some time.

Close runner-up this week: PC manufacturers, which witnessed an almost 15% decline in PC desktop and laptop sales. Is this the cliff? 

This week’s winner: Newspaper publishers

For the first time in 11 years, U.S. newspaper publishers reported an increase in circulation revenue, largely due to increased subscription and single copy sales on tablet devices, as well as the improved fiscal efficiencies that digital newspapers and content provide.

Parting shot

One final note for fans of TabTimes. The organization has really gathered momentum in the live events space.

In two weeks on April 30, TT will be hosting its third TABLET STRATEGY event. New York City will play host to a full day of panels and sessions focused on the topic of successfully putting tablets to work. A mix of real-life deployment stories and case studies should prove helpful for anyone considering a small or large tablet deployment in their workplace. Speakers from Aetna, American Airlines, and Hewlett Packard will highlight the day’s conversation.

Second, the submission window for TabTimes’ TABBY AWARDS—the first and only competition for iPad, Android, and Windows 8 apps—will close on April 15.

Finally, TabTimes announced another event for Septmber. Named TABLET ECOSYSTEM, the conference will  focus on just that.

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