Smartphones, Steve Jobs and LED light bulbs all prove big in Japan in 2011

Smartphones, Steve Jobs and LED light bulbs all prove big in Japan in 2011

Smartphones show no sign of losing popularity in Japan where the mobile device type has been voted top of a consumer survey to identify the most popular products of the year.

Steve Jobs and LED light bulbs are two of the more obscure items listed on the 2011 Hit Products in Japan report which, run by advertising firm Dentsu, is no ordinary consumer product listing. In it, Lady Gaga rubs shoulders with other ‘consumer products’ like the as yet unfinished Tokyo Sky Tree building, bread-making machines, a child actress, the Japanese women’s football team and chili oil.

Tech products do not dominate the rankings as one might expect, but smartphones once again top the list, as they did last year, and tablet devices climbed four places to stand fifteenth overall.

The tragic events of earlier this earlier year played a key role in shaping the remainder of the top 20 list, as Dentsu explains in a press announcement:

The impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake which occurred on March 11 can be seen in the No. 2 ranking for LED light bulbs and the first-time appearance of several energy-saving and eco-friendly products. The high rankings for Tokyo Sky Tree, Nadeshiko Japan and AKB48 can be attributed to the way in which they lifted a weary nation’s spirits.

Japan is famed for preference of its own products and culture, which makes Steve Jobs’ position as a new entry in seventeenth significant. The death of the Apple CEO was profoundly felt in Japan, where Apple’s iPhone 4S continues to sell well after KDDI joined Softbank as a vendor of the device.

It is somewhat surprising to see that Twitter (which grouped with other microblogs in the survey) has dropped from number two last year to eighteenth this year. The service is widely used in Japan — as the company’s co-founder Jack Dorsey recently noted — but rather than Japanese people tiring of Twitter, it is more likely that its establishment as a mainstream platform has made it is less novel than other items on the list.

Nonetheless, here is it is the list of top twenty consumer products, which were derived from a survey of 1,000 Japanese consumers taken in November – last year’s ranking for each product is in brackets.

  1. Smartphones (1)
  2. LED light bulbs (10)
  3. Tokyo Sky Tree (new broadcasting tower scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2012) (7)
  4. Nadeshiko Japan (the Japan women’s national football team who won the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany (TM) tournament) (-)
  5. AKB48 (48-member all-girl theater/idol group with its own theater in Akihabara, Tokyo) (18)
  6. Mana Ashida (a seven-year-old child actress, model, singer and celebrity) (-)
  7. Hybrid vehicles (16)
  8. Disaster prevention supplies and emergency food supplies (purchased in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake) (-)
  9. Electric and battery-powered fans (although most Japanese homes are equipped with air conditioners, many families bought and used electric or battery-powered fans instead to conserve energy in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake) (-)
  10. Digital broadcasting-equipped widescreen flat-panel TVs (4)
  11. Munchable (chunky) chili oil (3)
  12. Energy-saving home appliances (-)
  13. Lady Gaga (-)
  14. Automatic bread makers (-)
  15. Tablet information devices (tablet PCs) (19)
  16. B-grade local gourmet food (term used for inexpensive local food eaten in a casual setting; A-grade refers to expensive gourmet food eaten in a formal setting.) (11)
  17. Steve Jobs (-)
  18. Twitter and other microblogging platforms (2)
  19. Electric cars (-)
  20. K-pop music groups (Girls’ Generation, Kara and other Korean groups) (-)

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