By Diana Lee
August 1, 2005
One of the notable signs of the times in the 21st century is the remarkable cellular phone. It rapidly evolves from a simple voice communicator to a complex apparatus with multi-purpose capabilities encased in a handset. Japan is the leader in spearheading the transformation of communications technology by developing the state-of-the-art mobile phone.
In Japan, the third-generation mobile phones, boasting high-speed and high-volume data transfer, have been steadily overtaking the use of computers for web surfing. The increasingly broad range of features and services provided by a palm-sized cellular phone is mind-boggling"
Other services now in the works will be made available soon:
With all the marvelous features handling daily activities consolidated into one small device - from office work to personal affairs, and top it off with amusement - no wonder cellular phone has become so indispensable!
The demand for cellular phones began in 1994 when they were made available for sale for the first time in Japan. The substantial lowering costs of cellular phones and services have spurred a sharp climb in the mobile phone industry. Since 1996, phone sales have surged at a rate of 10 million per year. Nowadays, mobile phones appear everywhere and on almost everyone - workers, homemakers, teenagers and even junior high school students.
Besides the useful multiple functions, the cellular phone has sprung a keitai (mobile phone) culture in Japan. The cellular phone is viewed not only as a necessity and convenience but also as a fashion and expression of individuality. Owners are customizing their phones' exterior and sound, turning cell phones into prized possessions. The latest fad is to give the cell phone's casing a personal touch with original designs, such as zebra stripes, leopard dots or floral patterns. Programming selected popular melodies in place of a standard ring tone has become the trend. According to a recent survey, the top possession of young Japanese women is none other than their cell phones. Without them, these women feel restless and insecure all day.
Unfortunately, the growing popularity of cellular phones has brought a headache of problems. People often violated public social etiquette by conversing loudly on their cell phones in certain crowded or forbidden places, such as on public transportation or in hospitals and classrooms. As a result, signs appear on buses and trains recommending passengers not to use their mobile phones and to turn their ringers off. In addition, mobile phone ringers should be turned off in hospital and in class. After a hike in reports of car accidents caused by drivers talking on their cell phones, a traffic law has been enacted to prohibit drivers to use cell phones while driving on the road. Furthermore, users have been complaining about the increasing problem of spam. Moreover, radio waves from mobile phones are believed to cause interference with heart pacemakers. Contrary to the claim by European researchers, four major Japanese mobile operators (NTT DoCoMo Inc., KDDI Corp., Vodafone KK and Tu-Ka Cellular Tokyo Inc.) in their recent joint research declared no evidence of radio waves causing DNA damage or body harm, further fueling the controversy over the detrimental effects of mobile phones on people's health.
According to the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, the saturated domestic market with nearly 70% of Japanese own mobile phones showed sales of cellular and automobile phones down 12.2% from the previous year, totaling 44.77 million units in fiscal 2004. However, songs for ring tones recorded by artists specifically for cellular phones rose to 20.1 billion yen in 2004. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the mobile content market, which includes chaku-uta, games, mobile commerce, and other downloadable content, grew 31.1% to 461.6 billion yen in 2004.
As the mobile phone becomes more useful and complex with rapid technological advances, the market for mobile phones will continue to thrive in Japan and gain popularity overseas as the world becomes more tech-savvy.
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