Robin Harding

Robin Harding is the FT's US economics editor, based in Washington. Prior to this, he was based in Tokyo, covering the Bank of Japan and Japan's technology sector, and in London as an economics leader writer. Robin studied economics at Cambridge and has a masters in economics from Hitotsubashi University, where he was a Monbusho scholar. Before joining the FT, Robin worked in asset management and banking.

Robin Harding

From Games are Evil, via Kotaku, a brilliantly complicated chart that shows who owns which video game developers and how they all ended up there. Visit the original page for a version you can properly magnify.

Robin Harding

Nintendo has made a rare trip to Tokyo to update investors on its strategy (the session is timed, in what is becoming a Nintendo routine, to clash with Sony’s first half results briefing). From the investors and analysts I recognise here at the Imperial Hotel, it looks like Nintendo remains the greater draw, despite their weaker results yesterday.

Nintendo’s new DSi LL is available to play with in the foyer. My first impressions are that it is chunky – I wouldn’t chose one for the subway – but not all that heavy. The bigger, 4.25″ screens were a bit of a disappointment to me, because with the same resolution as the smaller DSi, it does not look very pretty. The new, full-size stylus pen is lovely though. Read more

Robin Harding

With dozens of smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system set to hit the market, a different challenger to the Apple iPhone was on display in Tokyo today: the Else, from London-listed Israeli technology company Emblaze, using software made by Access of Japan.

The two companies are making bold claims for the device, long in development under the codename of Monolith. “Imagine a device that is not a phone surrounded by gimmicks you will not use; where the camera literally replaces your digital camera; you get real-time push email wherever you are in the globe; almost every song and film in the the world is one click away; and any one of its multitude of features is reached with no more than one light gesture of your finger and not buried deep inside folders within folders,” said Amir Kupervas, the chief executive of Emblaze Mobile.

The credibility of that statement was impossible to judge while watching Access’s chief technology officer demonstrate the device. Read more

Robin Harding

The Tokyo Games Show kicked off with a keynote speech by Kazuo Hirai, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment, at 1030 local time in Japan.

There had been rumours that Mr Hirai would give further details of the new motion controller for the Playstation 3, but in the end, the event was little more than an update on the state of Sony’s various game platforms.

1120 The event is over and I’m afraid it was a bit of a disappointment. I think Sony used up its announcements with the slimline PS3 and price cuts in August. We’ll have to wait to find out more about the PS3 motion controller. Read more

Robin Harding

Original version of Space Invaders

For gamers who want to know what they will be able to play on the Xbox 360’s ‘Natal’ motion controller, here are a few more details from the FT’s interview with Don Mattrick, head of Microsoft’s games business.

There will be a ‘creator’s panel’ at the Tokyo Game Show on September 24 featuring three of Japan’s top developers discussing the possibilities of Natal. They will be Keiji Inafune of Capcom, the man behind zombies-in-a-mall hit Dead Rising; Sega’s Toshihiro Nagoshi, the creator of Super Monkey Ball; and Hideo Kojima, previously of Konami, the director of the Metal Gear Solid series. Read more

Robin Harding

NEC, Casio and Hitachi announced today that they are merging their mobile handset divisions. The following two graphs explain why:

Handset sales in Japan have been falling steadily since 2007, when the mobile networks cut subsidies on new phones, and the market has now all but halved in size. The blue line shows the twelve-month moving average of sales and the data is from the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association. Read more

Robin Harding

The ever-entertaining Onion is running a skit about Yamaha of Japan under the headline:

Yamaha CEO Pleased With Current Production Of Jet Skis, Alto Saxophones, Snowmobiles, Power Generators, Scooters, Golf Carts*

The Onion futher refers to Yamaha’s production of synthesizers, PA systems, DVD players, tone generators, motocross bikes, power amplifiers, heart-rate monitors, signal processors, analog mixers, engine oil, microphones, HiFi systems, grand pianos, sound chips, ceiling brackets, editing software, race-kart engines, sport boats, flugelhorns, ATVs, sequencers, outboard motors, conference systems, golf clubs, projectors, MIDI controllers, lamp cartridges, portable recorders, subwoofers, component systems, and motorcycles.

It is a bit unfair – Yamaha Corporation now owns only 15 per cent of Yamaha Motor, which makes about half of these products – but the Onion could have added unmanned helicoptors, health supplements, and swimming pools to the mix, with plenty more products left over.

What is so striking is that the US satirists thinks this broad array is funny – whereas Japan’s technology industry sees it as laudable and prudent diversification. Read more

Robin Harding

Sony PS3The first data are starting to appear on sales of Sony’s revamped Playstation 3 “Slim” since price cuts went into effect at the start of September. The data are good. The question is whether they are good enough.

In Japan, research company Enterbrain says that Sony sold 150,252 PS3 Slims in the four days between its launch on September 3 and September 6. That is the highest weekly sales number Sony has recorded for the PS3 since its launch in 2006 and also compares well with products past, such as the 170,779 units of Nintendo’s DSi handheld console sold during its first two days in the shops last autumn. Read more

Robin Harding

Nintendo’s flagship summer title, Wii Sports Resort, has got off to a strong start since its launch in Japan last Thursday June 25th.

According to figures from publisher Enterbrain in its Famitsu magazine, Wii Sports Resort sold 353,827 copies in its first four days on sale. That makes it the third most successful launch in the history of the Wii in Japan. Read more

Robin Harding

Or it will soon if Japan’s largest telephone company has its way.

Silicon Valley may be atwitter over Twitter but NTT Communications has a different proposition for the future of the internet: Fragrance Communication. Read more