"Galapagos." The island that gave rise to the theory of evolution has become a pejorative here in Japan. First applied to domestic mobile phone makers who can't figure out a way to compete anywhere outside the controlled confines of their home country's marketplace, it's since been applied to everything from the anime industry to the growing insularity of young Japanese. It's basically a way of describing the nation of Japan as becoming shyer, less adventurous, and all-around more isolated and introverted.
That's why Japanese electronics maker Sharp turned heads when it revealed the name of its new line of tablet computers last September: "Galapagos." Much head-scratching followed, then shrugging -- with "innovations" like track balls (!), these tablets aren't going to be knocking the iPad or even Kindle off their pedestals anytime soon -- but today, finally, the Mainichi Shimbun ran an article about the story behind the name.
The brainchild of thirty-year Sharp veteran Keiko Okada, she was fully aware of the connotations of the word. "This company's become too corporate, and I wanted to drop a bomb in their laps," she told the newspaper in an interview published this morning. Mission accomplished.
But here's the real question: how do CONSUMERS feel about it? It's been three months since the first announcement. Let's turn to the peanut gallery at 2ch to find out how the "man on the net" feels. (And with the usual 2ch dose of misogyny, there isn't any doubt that most of these posters are men):
Masochism pure and simple.
When I heard that lame name I knew a woman had to be behind it.
The most weasel-y product name, ever.
Make something better than Galaxy Pad or iPad and try again.
The really ironic thing is that none of the products in the line have anything that really differentiates them from competitors.
Well, at least we're talking about it.
I like the name. It's way more daring than the usual Japanese product name. As for the product itself, I'll pass.
I actually tried one when I went to buy a mouse pad the other day. The page-turn speed and touchscreen response were a joke. This never should've left the lab.
Last weekend, the Galapagos display area set up next to the escalators at Bic Camera was totally empty of customers. Then again, the Sony Reader area was a graveyard, too.