Some Experiences with ChipChat in Japan

Marty Cawthon
President, ChipChat Technology Group

Speech delivered to the OS/2 Asia Pacific Reception,
Fall Comdex
Las Vegas, Nevada
November 15, 1995
Hosted by IBM-Japan

Good evening!

I am learning Japanese. I will give my speech in both English and Japanese. I will be reading my speech from Japanese text - hiragana, katakana, and kanji.

Two years ago I attended the Japanese OS/2 Consortium events at Comdex. I met with members of the OS/2 Consortium. We discussed our ChipChat products, and how they might be suitable for the Japanese market.

Later at ChipChat we followed up on those matchmaker meetings. We worked to prepare a Japanese version of our ChipChat Wireless Communicator, which sends text messages to wireless pagers.

Last year I returned to the OS/2 Consortium meetings at Comdex, and brought other members of the ChipChat company with me. We discussed with the OS/2 Consortium members "how best to introduce our Japanese product to Japan".

This year, in 1995, we established Nihon ChipChat as a Japanese company. Nihon ChipChat provides sales, support, and co-development work for ChipChat products in Japan. Ms Etsuko Inoue is the director of Nihon ChipChat.

This is what we have accomplished so far:

I am very pleased with the progress that ChipChat has made in Japan!

This evening I will talk about our experience with ChipChat in Japan. My goal is to provide you with information that will help you make your OS/2 product available to the Japanese market.

I will present the following: "The 3 Rules for Success in Japan".

The first of my rules is Be Neat and Be Polite. For you this means "look good" and "act good". This is obvious for you, but it also applies to your product.

For example, your product bulletins should "look good" to the Japanese. They should explain your product thoroughly. Your products should be packaged neatly. Your documentation and tutorials should be complete.

When Japanese people use the Western calendar (1995, etc) they prefer to write the dates as Year-Month-Day. In America we often use Month-Day-Year, while in Europe they often use Day-Month-Year. Your software should be polite to the user and support different date formats.

It is easy to support date, time, currency symbols, etc by using the "OS/2 Preferences". This is found in the System Setup folder. The icon is labelled Country. Your software can ask OS/2 "What preferences does the user have?", and then use those preferences.

There are many other small differences between Americans and Japanese. Many of these differences are not critical. But they are important. All customers appreciate a quality product. This is especially true for the Japanese.

Be Neat and Be Polite!

My second rule is Carry a handkerchef

In Japan I had an interesting experience in the toilet. I washed my hands - hot and cold running water - good soap, but so sorry, no towels to dry my hands. So I wiped my hands on my pants. This sometimes happens in America, so it was not so strange.

Later I was in the IBM building, ready to have a business dinner. I went to use the toilet. I then washed my face, because after a long day I wanted to "feel fresh" for dinner. Once again, good water, good soap, but I looked around - again no towels! Everybody was waiting for me. I heard somebody at the door: "[knock] [knock] Hello Marty.... we are waiting..."

I could not even dry my face with my pants!
But I solved the crisis by drying my face with toilet paper.

I learned that Japanese people all carry a personal handkerchef with them. This is useful for many things, including wiping hands and face after washing.

The lesson is that when you visit Japan you may need some extra equipment, like a handkerchef. The same is true of your product. It may need extra featrures to survive in the Japanese market.

The most obvious extra feature that your product will need is 'Double Byte Character Support' Software for Japan needs to be written to support Japanese language. You must support 2,000 - 3,000 characters minimum. This is too many to be addressed by a single 8 bit byte. So Japanese, and Chinese, and Korean languages require two bytes for each character. This is called a 'Double Byte Character Set' (DBCS)

Sometimes you must do some extra work to include DBCS support for your software. It is not difficult. Most of the work is done for you by OS/2.

You also must have a translation of your menus, help, and documentation. This translation should be done by a professional who is familiar with modern Japan and computers. IBM hosts DBCS seminars, which will explain the technical details about DBCS and OS/2. Ask Catherine Donahue ( for more information about IBM DBCS seminars.

Some Japanese speak English. But all Japanese speak Japanese. Our ChipChat products for Japan can 'hot-switch' from Japanese to English. This is extra convenience to Japanse people who want to practise their English skills with ChipChat. When you visit Japan it is necessary to carry a handkerchef. When you ship software to Japan, it is necessary that it support DBCS and be in the Japanese language.

Carry a handkerchef

I will demonstrate my third rule with an experiment. I need a Japanese person to volunteer, and an American to volunteer.

Two volunteers come to the front, and face the audience.

Now close your eyes and keep them closed until I say 'Open'.

Imaging that you are in a busy city. You are standing at the curb. You are ready to cross the street.

Keep your eyes closed... Turn your head to look to see if cars are coming.

Now, open your eyes.

The Japanese and the Americans are looking at each other. But which way is the car coming from?

In America, the car usually comes from the left. In Japan, the car usually comes from the right. So you should look both ways before you cross the street. This is important for you. But it is also important for your product and your business.

Japan and America have many things which look the same, but are done differently. Cars and streets look the same, but driving is on opposite side. Business clothes look the same, but "way of doing business" is different.

When you visit Japan, look both ways before you cross the street.
Otherwise, you may get hit.
Then you will say "I had a bad experience in Japan".

When you do business with Japan remember to look both ways: "American way and Japanese way"
Otherwise you may get hurt.
Then you will say "I had a bad business experience in Japan".

I recommend that you have a Japanese partner for your business in Japan. Such a person will know the Japanese language, Japanes culture, and the Japanese way of doing things. They will always "look the Japanese way" before you both "cross the street".

The success of Nihon ChipChat is possible because of the excellent work of Ms Etsuko Inoue, Director of Nihon-ChipChat. She is not here tonight because she says that Las Vegas is too crowded and too expensive - she prefers Japan!

Things might look very similar, but be very different.
Look both ways before you cross the street.

My 3 Rules for Success in Japan are:
  1. Be Neat and Be Polite
  2. Carry a handkerchef
  3. Look both ways before you cross the street.
These are simple rules, but I have found them to be excellent rules.

But you might ask "What about the details? How about specific help for me?.

The details are different for each situation. It is impossible for me to talk about the details appropriate to each of the different situations that are in this room.

So for success in Japan, remember these simple rules. Apply them to many aspects of your business. And work hard.

Do you need to speak Japanese to do business in Japan?

Many Japanese business men and women speak English. Also, you can hire a translator.

I am learning to speak Japanese. I visited Japan in May, and made many friends. I had a very good experience in Japan. So similar, but so different. I was stimulated by my visit to Japan.

My visit was a good visit because my Japanes friends and business associates knew English and knew about American culture. They had spent many years studying English, and I benefited from it.

In Japan, bowing is an important custom. I decided to learn Japanese to expand my mind, and also to "return an equal bow" to my Japanese friends.

I recognize the Japanese language, culture, and history are very rich and interesting. The language, culture, and history of the West is also very rich and interesting. And also this is true for other cultures represented here tonight.

I am learning Japanese to "return an equal bow" to the Japanese language, culture, and history.

And now, my final note for this talk.

It is no secret that OS/2 is almost surrounded by Windows. It may look very bleak to some people.

It reminds me of a true story from ancient Scotland. In about the year 1300, Robert the Bruce was the rightful King of Scotland. But he was held prisoner by his enemies, the English. He was confined to a prison cell, and felt there was no hope.

In his prison cell, he saw a spider spin a web. The web fell apart. The spider started a second time. The web fell apart again. The spider started a third time. This time the web was strong, and the spider caught a meal.

Nana Korobi, Ya Oki (Japanese proverb: Seven times fall down, Eight times get up)
'Robert the Bruce' was encouraged by this spider. He escaped from his cell, organized his army, and fought the English. He defeated them, and became the true King of Scotland. Until the day he died, he remembered the spider, and how it gave him encouragement.

We all need encouragement. The best encouragement is the knowledge that We can do it.
We have the best product: OS/2
We have excellent companies and people.
We can do it!

But we have a big challenge.
Let us use that challenge to our advantage.

Did ever a sailor become skillful on a calm sea?
Did ever a warrior become skilled with weak enemies?
Challenges make men and women rise to their best.
Let us meet this "OS/2 challenge" with our best work,
...with our best thoughts,
...and with our best efforts.

I wish everybody here Good Luck with tonight's matchmaking event. I hope that all the companies here make good profits, and all the people enrich their lives with new friends and a better appreciation for other countries and other cultures.

Think well!
Work hard!
Have fun!

[ChipChat Home Page]

® ChipChat is a registered trademark in the United States, Japan, and other countries. Copyright © 1995 ChipChat Technology Group, Dearborn Michigan USA - All rights reserved.