Domestic electricity market liberalisation

Would you like to change your electricity provider? graph of japanese statistics

I’ve seen surprisingly little written (in English) about the topic of this survey from @Nifty into the recent electricity market liberalisation, which allows people to choose their domestic electricity billing company.

We’ve changed from Tokyo Electricity to Tokyo Gas, which was very little bother apart from a new smart meter installation. It means we get one bill instead of two, and just a little cheaper than before, but their contract can be cancelled at any time for no penalty, unlike many other new providers who have 18 month to three year minimum terms!

One in ten Japanese techies think machine learning will replace them within ten years

What is your opinions on machine intelligence? graph of japanese statisticsHere’s a short yet interesting (I especially have high hopes for Deep Learning) survey from Gartner Japan into machine intelligence.

I’m pretty sure many of my readers will have heard about Deep Learning, computing’s new Silver Bullet that will slay (if you believe the hype) all machine intelligence issues. I’ve worked a little on it myself, and I’ve attended a presentation or two on the subject, where people like the Berkeley Vision and Learning Center are doing quite wonderful stuff with drudge work like photo classification and scene understanding, but moving it up to the next level, especially for real-time work like vision systems for vehicles may take both more research and more computer horsepower.

Furthermore, there has recently been hype about half of all jobs being replaced by robots or AI by 2033, but I am sceptical because (a) I’ll be retired by then, so what do I care, and (b) I’ve heard all this before, with major breakthroughs always 10 or 20 years in the future. Furthermore, if they are going to replace half the jobs, I’m going to make sure that I’m in the other half!

Regardless of the future outcome, this is a topic that I think everyone in the IT business should be following!

Electricity market liberalisation

How do you rate electricity market liberalisation? graph of japanese statisticsNext month the marketplace for domestic electricity will be opened up, allowing many companies to sell electricity direct to consumers, rather than the current situation of monopoly providers. Belle Maison Lifestyle Research Labs recently conducted a survey into electricity liberalisation to see how aware people were of their new choices.

I’ve already signed up with Tokyo Gas; they seem to have the best deal going overall, and they are only one of three companies that have no compulsory contract length, so we can change any time; many other providers have one or two year terms that may lock you into a bad deal.

Two in five Tokyo home-owners think foreigners shouldn’t use Airbnb

Airbnb shouldn't allow foreigners to use their services graph of japanese statistics

Marketing Research Camp recently published a survey into Minpaku – literally “staying at private homes” – a Japanese term for “Bed and Breakfast”, and its more modern form, Airbnb.

This is a very interesting survey; the report here was based on a single question published on the web site (their full 61 page report is available for free download, however) and revealed a number of interesting statistics. In particular, the headline figure of 40% Tokyo-resident home-owners thinking that Airbnb and similar services should not accept foreign customers is quite an eye-opener. Recently, there has been a lot of news articles about poor-mannered foreign guests (and I’ve even seen other foreign residents complaining of this) being excessively noisy in common areas of flats where there is an Airbnb property, and the implication from the news being that the vast majority of the places are not people renting out a spare room, but one-room flats being bought (or indeed illegally subletted) in residential property specifically for Airbnbing while the owner lives elesewhere.

One local government in Tokyo (Ota ward) recently tried to regulate Airbnb-type rentals, but I heard just two properties applied for certification.

Just for the record, I do not approve of Airbnb-type rental outside of spare rooms in one’s own home, and I think there should be just as strict regulation of online BnB properties as there is of traditional BnBs.

Note that I’ve decided to move demographic information to the end of articles from now on.

Working from home: many Japanese keen

Would you like to work from home? graph of japanese statisticsRather appropriately for today, a day where snow, or according to the news I just watched, over-caution about snow, resulted in massive train delays all over the Tokyo area, the Japan Telework Association released a survey into working styles.


Between the 25th and 29th of September 2015 39,929 members of the NTT Com Research monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. \59.0% of the sample were male, 0.2% in their teens, 4.5% in their twenties, 16.6% in their thirties, 30.0% in their forties, 27.2% in their fifties, 15.8% in their sixties, and 5.6% aged seventy or older. Furthermore, the sample was whittled down to 22,916 people aged between 20 and 69 and in work, either full-time or part-time. From that sample, 43.7% used email for work frequently every day, 12.9% used email once or twice per day, 24.4% used it less than once a day, and 19.0% never. Finally, these 18,565 mail users became the sample for the questions below.

I purposely avoid checking work email from home; I could if I wanted set up my phone to receive mail, but I don’t see why I should do work on my own tab, and anyway, nothing exciting enough happens in the evenings to merit checking email. On the other hand, most of the management I have known in Japan are obsessive micro-managers, so I feel they have to keep in touch to prove their own worth.

Taxi apps in Japan

Have you used a smartphone taxi hailing apps? graph of japanese statistics

I’m back, hopefully getting back into a regular multiple-posts-per-week schedule, with this look at taxi hailing apps.


Between the 28th of March and the 2nd of April 2014 1,071 members of the goo Research monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 53.6% of the sample were male, 13.6% in their teens, 15.7% in their twenties, 21.5% in their thirties, 17.2% in their forties, 14.9% in their fifties, and 17.1% aged sixty or older.

Most of Japan’s taxi apps are official ones from taxi companies; a service like Uber does not exist in Japan, and I don’t think it would work here. As I understand it, taxi companies in America often do not come when called, so Uber, even though it apparently more expensive than a regular taxi, fills a niche. In Japan, there are if anything too many taxis, so failing to appear is never a problem.

Online coupon site finds online shoppers like online coupons

Have you ever used a discount coupon when doing online shopping? graph of japanese statisticsI suppose the key findings of this survey may be suspected of being biased since it is appearing on the coupon site BJam (parent company Fazer), but nonetheless this survey into internet shopping coupon usage revealed a few interesting nuggets of information.


Between the 26th and 28th of October 2013 1,107 members of the Fastask monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. All the respondents had done internet shopping, 59.6% of them were male, 13.1% in their teens, 17.0% in their twenties, 18.0% in their thirties, 18.0% in their forties, 17.0% in their fifties and 17.0% aged sixty or over.

I use coupons when shopping online, if available, but most of my shopping is merely for domain names. I don’t know exactly what my wife, a perhaps more typical shopper, uses though, although I think she regularly uses money-off coupons.

When shop staff are a pain in the bum

goo Ranking recently conducted a survey looking at what kinds of shop staff people find too much bother to deal with.


The survey was conducted over the 2nd and 3rd of September 2013 and 1,077 people completed a private web-based questionnaire. 51.0% of the sample were female, 24.5% in their teens, 24.8% in their twenties, 25.2% in their thirties, and 25.5% in their forties. Note that the score in the results refers to the relative number of votes for each option, not a percentage of the total sample. This survey was for the women in the sample only.

Talking of number 13, here’s staff getting over-familiar with Johnny Depp:

My pet hate is mobile phone shop staff, who are totally incapable of answering any even slightly technical question with anything other than “Have you tried turning off and on?” Well, one time when I asked about a crash, they recommended I delete some stuff as my low-end phone’s memory was getting full, but it was full mostly down to all the shovel-ware that they place on the phone and that cannot be deleted! Another time, I went at least thrice about a problem receiving SMS-like messages (docomo Message R, for those who are familiar with docomo) on my smartphone. They checked their computer, my account status, everything, and it wasn’t until about six months later there was a software upgrade to their mail program that finally enabled Message R reception by any smartphone in their range! I can’t really see how three different staff were not aware that such a common feature was not supported, even though they had been selling smartphones for at least two years at that point.

BYOD corporate security pretty much non-existent

Are workspace security measures for smartphone BYOD needed? graph of japanese statisticsMobile Marketing Data Labo recently conducted their second regular survey into using one’s personal smartphone at work, or BYOD, Bring Your Own Device, as it is commonly known as.


Between the 19th and 22nd of August 2013 1,002 members of the MMD monitor group who used a personal smartphone in a business setting completed a private internet-based questionnaire. The only demographic information provided was that they were all aged between 20 and 49 years old.

Our company’s policy is that BYOD is forbidden in general, but with special exceptions for reading email via a thin client-style application that ensures no messages are ever saved locally. However, this survey shows that there are very few companies with formal policies in place, which I strongly feel is a disaster waiting to happen.

Office workers and their My Bottle

How often do you take your My Bottle, My Cup to the office? graph of japanese statisticsNo, that headline is not grammatically wrong, it’s just that in Japanese, the term for bringing one’s own thermos, mug to work (and also the name of this survey by Do House) is My Bottle or My Cup.


At some recent point in time 641 members of the Do House monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 50.9% of the sample were male, 40.6% were in their twenties or thirties, and 59.4% were in their forties or fifties. All lived in the vicinities of Tokyo, and all were in employment, including part time and casual work.

I have both my own My Bottle and my own My Cup; I fill the thermos with tea from a tea bag, and slowly top up my My Cup from my My Bottle as time goes by. It feels like about a quarter of the people in myoffice bring their My Bottle, but I’ve never asked them what is inside, but for some reason I imagine it must be miso soup, although that doesn’t feature as a distinct option in Q3.

For some reason people drinking out of their thermos irritates me – the unscrewing and clinking as they put the cap back on is not in itself a noise that gets on my nerves, but much like fan usage it just grates for some no particular reason.