A while ago Japan was known as the country where 3G smartphones cost 1 yen. The terrible competition in the mobile phone market made telephone prices drop until the limit of 1 yen. Not only the most basic phones cost 1 yen, even the advanced and pretty good phones cost also 1 yen. Those were crazy times and the carriers only wanted to get more and more users even if they had to loose money giving away terminals. Nowadays this tendency is almost finished in the world of mobile phones, now users have to pay quite a bit of money to get new phones, although there are still some 1 yen phones like for example the 8Gb iPhone.
Selling 100 yen Netbooks on the street.
The same thing that happened with mobile phones is happening right now with Netbooks. Since more than 10 years ago there is a market in Japan of ultra-light portable computers with screens of 6 until 12 inches but these where never called Netbooks. These where laptops as good as any other laptop and were even more expensive, there was not much competition and the market of these ultra-light portable laptops was controlled by local Japanese manufacturers like Panasonic.
But the Netbooks also arrived to Japan, at the beginning local brands like Toshiba or Panasonic tried to stop it to protect their market but at the end they could not spot the inevitable invasion of cheap ultra-light computers known as Netbooks made by Taiwanese manufacturers like Acer and Asus or north-american like Dell. During 2007 100.000 Netbooks were sold in Japan and in 2008 it was 10X that number, 1.000.000 Netbooks were sold in Japan during 2008!
There is so much competition during the last months that Netbook prices have dropped to 100 yen and even 1 yen. There is only one condition; the user has to sign a 3G (HSDPA) data contract for at least two years. The contract fees and conditions are different depending on the carrier but for example EMobile offers a 7.2Mbps flat rate plan for 6.000 yen a month (45 Euros) without any download volume data limit. As it is a pretty good speed for a decent price there are many users who are canceling their home hikari lines (fiber lines) and using their Emobile connection also at home.
Emobile and other carriers like Docomo or AU-KDDI confess that they are loosing tons of money giving away 100 yen and even 1 yen Netbooks. Some analysts like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanly think that this tendency will last until the beginning of next year when the carrier will have the necessary data users to make good money without the need to give more Netbooks for free. Get one while it still costs 100 Yen! This is the one that Danny bought for Mirai.
This is our Dell Mini 9, it cost 100 yen with a two years contract with Emobile. The only bad thing of this Netbook is the keyboard, it is too little, I prefer the size of my Acer Aspire One.