Google: Not for Japan

A while back I noted the superiority of Yahoo over Google for mapping Japan. Nowadays, I find that I have to keep both Google and Yahoo Japan as home pages because there are a lot of things that Google hasn’t yet figured out how to do. For instance:

  • Very few of Google’s products interface well with Japanese mobile phones. Take Google Calendar. It can only send alerts to Gmail, or to a U.S. mobile phone by SMS. Yahoo, on the other hand, can send alerts to any e-mail address, including my phone’s (both the English and Japanese versions of Yahoo are capable of this). Yes, Google Calendar is shinier-looking, and the ability to automatically pull events from e-mails is pretty cool, but how hard can it be to broaden the e-mail alert function?
  • Also, maybe it’s just my phone, but Gmail and other mobile Google sites almost never display properly on it–they either get moji-baked or they fail to load entirely.
  • I keep Tokyo weather on my Google home page, and half of the time, it’s totally wrong–i.e., the system doesn’t know whether it’s day or night, or thinks that it’s 100°F outside when it’s really 80°.
  • Google Finance, Google News, etc. are incapable of telling me how the Nikkei is doing. Granted, this is a two-way problem, as I can’t see the Dow on Yahoo Japan either–in fact, the only website I know that can seamlessly provide both is good ol’ Bloomberg. (Love you guys!)

I know Google is busy saving the world and all that, but can’t they save the world for people outside the U.S., too? Sheesh, guys, get off your high hammocks and get with the picture.

6 thoughts on “Google: Not for Japan”

  1. GMail is being rolled out in Japan now on an open access basis. but they still seem a bit betwixt and between:

    “It is also trying to raise its presence in Japan, where more people access the Web using mobile phones than from personal computers. Google this year announced a tie-up with the country’s second-biggest wireless operator, KDDI Corp., to offer search engines on mobile phones. ‘We’re trying to offer GMail for mobile phone users as soon as possible,’ said Hiroto Tokusei, another Google product manager. He said no specific plans have been decided yet”

  2. As far as the mojibake check the text-encoding on your browser. Japan is infamous for using Shift-JIS or EUC when Google uses the international standard of UTF-8.

  3. Joe, it’s trivial to get g-calendar alerts sent to your keitai. The trick is that you won’t find it anywhere in the google calendar settings. Instead, just set up a filter in gmail that forwards all messages from google calendar alerts to an email address of your choice. It works fine for me.

    As for the moji-bake problem, this is as Younghusband says probably the fault of the Japanese carriers for using browser code that does not understand unicode. Since mobile gmail isn’t launched yet in Japan we’re somewhat lucky that it actually works at all, and it does work fine as long as you are only interested in reading your alphabetic messages. As Mulboyne points out, Google is planning to release a Japanese mobile gmail eventually.

  4. Yup, it’s partly a problem with the keitai, but you’d think that Gmail would be kind enough to include some options regarding encoding. It likes to forward everything in Unicode by default, which makes it a pain to get it to work with a keitai.

    Yahoo, on the other hand, sends in ISO-8859 or ISO-2022 all the time, which works with anything.

    Bottom line is, I shouldn’t *need* to have to mess around with Gmail filters to accomplish this.

  5. I’ve noticed that Google is currently advertising quite a lot of positions in their Tokyo office. Hopefully having a real division in Japan, instead of having their primary team in the US just trying to make the software automatically international, will get all these problems fixed before long.

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