Mobile Life

A typical Japanese scene:

Ken Kawakita is sitting on his living room floor, checking train schedules on the Internet, using a laptop computer running Windows over a wireless AirPort from Apple Computer. His son, Taro, 11, is downloading a game on his iBook over the same network, while daughter, Mari, 13, converses with a friend by e-mail over her mobile phone on KDDI’s “au” network.

Takao, Ken’s wife, has a mobile phone on the table near her hand, although she is not using it at the moment. Like her daughter’s and many others in Japan, its carrying strap is decorated with trinkets, showing the affectionate place they hold as a personal item. Daughter Hanna, 8, is asleep on the couch, but she could easily be surfing the Internet on her Mac.

Mari has been using her Casio clamshell cellphone all evening, playing games and taking photographs in addition to having her phone e-mail conversations. Ken, 39, who has a second-generation i-mode phone, says it offers more functions and services than he needs and is too complicated for him. When he sends a photo from his telephone, he just asks Mari. On the other hand, he very naturally checks out the Tokyo traffic congestion on his phone while driving to Yokohama.

Read the rest of the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE article here.