Akihabara gets it first

Readers respond to Register probe

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While AMD and Intel might be keeping schtum about why their kit tips up in the Akihabara hi-tech area yonks before the rest of the world+dog sees it, our readers have, bless you all, come up with their own ideas on this conundrum. Here's a selection of their many replies.

A regular visitor to Akihabara writes: "I'm sure you've heard this theory hundreds of times. But since I've been going to Japan for the last few months, I think Akihabara gets a lot of stuff early because of 'grey market' Taiwanese connections. The same way we import anime and stuff like PlayStation 2s into the US, they do for computer stuff from Taiwan. My only gripe is that everyone has Durons just no Socket A motherboards! If you ever go there, make sure you have a guide. Most of these shops are about the size of a bedroom closet."

Ed Stroglio, who writes regularly for Overclockers, says: "It seems that most products actually premiere in the Far East well before anyplace else. I see FS references in Taiwanese newsgroups well before the products even debut in the US."

Another reader offers this: "New things appear in Akihabara first, because there is an established small but significant and consistent market for exotic electronic goods even at rather high prices. Some small segment Japanese consumers are compulsive about extreme speed and performance."

Our friend Chairat Suvajanakorn, from Thailand says: "I've asked the very same question to Intel (Thailand) myself of why Japanese always get things first! The answer is that they've got money and craze to get the latest and the best stuffs (before anybody else in the world). It's that simple. The second is that everybody in the industry knows Japan is the first place to test the market for their products. One recent good example would be the ABIT SE6 (i815E), how the hell else it could end up on Akihabara first than even Taiwan? How did the Japanese got the first Matrox 400MAX first in the world? Even before the Canadian or the notorious hardware testing sites around the world?

"One other good example to prove the answers I have given you. You know all the Benz that came out in the world (any model at any give time), it would appear in Japan first even though it's left-hand drive. And there would always be some crazy goons who would line up and buy those cars first (not among their own people but to the rest of the world). They'd pay twice as much as Germans would pay for the same car! There is no conspiracy theory involved here. Simply, the Japanese have more money than the rest of us and new things sell there no matter what."

Our very own Hermit at Hoodview, who runs our Register Forum, says: "It's been the same clear back to the days of the Ginzika in Tokyo. They always had the first stuff for radio, stereo, etc. Maybe they have a more sincere eagerness than the rest of us? If it doesn't work, what better place to find out than far off in the Far East? Course that hasn't worked well for the 820 series has it. Hmmmmm. Maybe they're willing to pay lots more money."

Another reader adds to this theory, saying: "Well, after spending a year over in Japan working for an ExcePtionally large printer company, I might be able to offer my thoughts on the issue. Apparently Akihabara is the electronics test market of Japan (and perhaps even the world). Many products are released in the Akihabara streets to see if they meet consumer demand and expectations. If the product sells poorly they get canned and the rest of Japan (and the world) never gets to see them. But why Akihabara? My guess would be the large population base of Tokyo, and that the Japanese love their luxury goods and electronic toys (all it takes is a glance at their DVD/GPS driving guidance systems that even talk to you). So, Akihabara is a cool place where the newest of the new sell, and where bargaining is the name of the game (I saved about ¥50,000 when I bought my Canon GL1 due to bargaining and price research)."

Another reader agrees. "This is my reasoning, Akihabara is one big electronic shopping complex. It by far the largest and comprehensive in Japan. Any large electronic maker, wholesalers or retailers, if they sell electronics they have to have visibililty there. Anyone interested in electronics will go to Akihabara to buy the latest greatest electronic gadgets. So if you're going to display/sell a new product, you will do it there - it that simple. If you ever get a chance to to Tokyo, go to Akihabara. And if you like electronic gadgets, take a few credits cards along - you'll max them out. With all the neat stuff that you can easily find there. Oh put on a good pair of walking shoes..." ®

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