by Charlie Allen
There are an abundance of Japanese products, particularly cars and electronics, that have been exported to become indispensable items overseas. However, a few things have yet to make that leap. For me the most prominent is the Japanese hightech toilet, which I will certainly pack several of into my luggage should I leave Japan. But yet, until quite recently, the BlackBerry was one of the rare equivalents of this in the opposite direction: a foreign product (with no Japanese equivalent), indispensable overseas that had not made it to Japan.
This changed last autumn when NTT DoCoMo started to offer BlackBerry to corporate customers with the 3G 8707h smartphone. There are a number of differences between BlackBerry and a Japanese keitai. Firstly, BlackBerry is specifically designed for business and the device is only one part of an end-to-end solution. It provides all the features necessary to enable you to act as if you’re at your desk when you’re not—you can do your email, review documents, make/accept appointments, and all with highly certified information security; emails are encrypted and even if lost or stolen your device can be disabled remotely. However to me, the key advantage of BlackBerry is its ability to integrate with company systems so that nothing has to be done twice. BlackBerry synchronises personal information so that it does not need to be manually duplicated, and emails need not be sent to both keitai and office addresses. As a result, carrying a laptop becomes unnecessary and wherever you are, you can use your time more effectively—no more wasted taxi rides—and you can act on something immediately to prevent it becoming a problem, rather than spending days fixing it later. Studies have shown increases in productivity and time saving (estimated at over an hour a day) meaning you can leave work earlier (always a struggle in Japan), but I have also found it has made me more relaxed—removing the frustration associated; waiting for my laptop to boot up alone has probably saved me from a few grey hairs! Also, whether you are using English or Japanese a QWERTY keyboard is far better for writing emails, especially for business, than a phone keypad.
The BlackBerry solution is available, localised in Japanese or English, so irrespective of whether you or your company is Japanese you can benefit from the freedom a BlackBerry brings. This will mean that even if, like me, you have become mildly addicted to the joys of the high-tech toilet and spend longer in there than you should do, you can still use this time effectively!