TOKYO – When Yuta Moriya was offered Apples 22-ounce iPad by his employer last summer, he envisioned a future free of lugging his laptop around for client visits. He was wrong.
I used to have to carry my laptop, a charger and some brochures, said Moriya, 29, a used-car salesman at Tokyo-based Gulliver International. After the iPad, I carried the iPad, a charger for the iPad, the laptop, the charger for the laptop and the brochures.
Salarymen like Moriya are reluctant to embrace iPad tablets because they arent light enough or functional enough to replace laptops in Japan. For each tablet shipped to corporate customers in Japan, dozens will be sold in the U.S. and Western Europe through 2015, according to estimates by research firm IDC.
Japanese businessmen already tend to carry around light laptops because theyre on the train so often, said Masahiro Katayama, a PC group manager at IDC. iPads are not suited for inputting and processing data, so people end up having both their laptops and iPads.
An Apple spokesman in Tokyo referred queries about Japanese iPad sales to Softbank Corp., the iPhone makers partner in Japan. Fumihiro Ito, a spokesman at Tokyo-based Softbank declined to comment on its iPad sales in the country.
Tokyo salarymen prefer lighter, sleeker products because space is so scarce in a region with 36 million inhabitants. Some hotels offer lodging in coffin-sized capsules instead of rooms, and typical whiskey bars in the Yurakucho and Shinjuku districts are only big enough for about a dozen customers at once.
In the U.S., its clear what the iPad offers with its size and weight, but in Japan, iPads fail to distinguish themselves as a business tool from lightweight laptops, said Ichiro Michikoshi, an analyst at research firm BCN Inc. in Tokyo.
Tablet computers are more suitable for watching movies and listening to music than writing reports and crunching data on spreadsheets, he said.
Most business users in Japan who bought tablet computers found them less useful than they initially expected, according to an April survey of 450 workers by research firm IID Inc. Of those polled, 88 percent said they bought the product expecting to use it for work.
Thats the issue facing Kokuyo Co.s information- technology department. The Osaka furniture-maker planned to give away 1,500 iPads this year to boost productivity yet has only handed them out to 251 employees, all of whom are still using their laptops, said Jun Enda, one of the workers receiving one.