Japan is more than well-known for its thought-leadership in the technological space with crazy cool innovations – from its wearable technology to robots to cars – but today, a New York Times blog posted on the sweetest holiday of the year suggests that traditional fax is Japan’s Valentine this year, as the country won’t give up the old-style fax machine.
Despite enhancements made to simplify fax transmission and receipt such as fax VoIP and FoIP, and despite Japan boasting some of the world’s fastest broadband networks, the country just loves it some good old fashioned pre-Internet paper fax. The Times compares the fax machine in other developed countries to such archaic things as answering machines, eight-tracks and cassette tapes, all which apparently been thrown “in the dustbin of outmoded technologies.”
The Times continues, “Last year alone, Japanese households bought 1.7 million of the old-style fax machines, which print documents on slick, glossy paper spooled in the back. In the United States, the device has become such an artifact that the Smithsonian is adding two machines to its collection, technology historians said.”
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I find it somewhat hard to believe the latter statement. If I’m in my early twenties and that comment makes me feel old, I can’t even imagine how older generations would feel knowing this.
Nevertheless, the blog goes on to report that in 2011, the Japanese government’s Cabinet Office claimed that almost all of business offices and almost half (45 percent) of residential homes touted a fax machine. Kenichi Shibata from NTT (News - Alert) Communications, a global telecommunication services provider, said, “[Fax] has grown unusually deep roots into Japanese society” because it boasted such high success rates when it first arrived, making it oddly hard to replace.
“The fax addiction helps explain why Japan, which once revolutionized consumer electronics with its hand-held calculators, Walkmans and, yes, fax machines, has become a latecomer in the digital age, and has allowed itself to fall behind nimbler competitors like South Korea and China,” the Times concludes, offering up the thought that perhaps committing to a relationship with traditional fax isn’t so tumultuous after all – or at least for the Japanese.
Edited by Ashley Caputo