Japanese gadgets get converted for American consumers

Westlake Village (CA) - More and more American consumers discover Japan as source for the newest laptops, phones, MP3 players and other gadgets. While one could hop on a plane to Tokyo and browse the Akihabara electronics market, translating instruction manuals and navigating Japanese language menus may be a hurdle for many users. Dynamism.com offers a convenient solution by importing and converting Japanese electronics. TG Daily met Dynamism.com founder Douglas Krone and spoke with him about what is spurring the interest in Japanese gear.

The core of Dynamism's business is the conversion of Japanese laptops which is "moderately labor intensive", according to Krone. The drives are wiped and the original software is replaced with an English-language Windows operating system. Krone told us that most technically proficient people could do this, but may not have the time or the patience. "Doing the first 85% of the conversion is easy, but the rest is much more intensive," said Krone.

The laptops that Krone converts are usually either Japanese or Korean brands, but are sometimes made by American companies. These laptops are specially made for the Japanese market and are smaller, lighter and according to Krone, "built much better". Many of the laptops Dynamism sells weigh just over two pounds and achieve "up to 21 hours of battery life."

Krone compares a Japanese laptop to a "classic Mercedes-Benz" automobile where a door shuts firmly with a solid thud, versus the clang that a cheaper car makes. "There is just a solid feel." One example Krone provided is the integrated CD/DVD players that many two-pound Japanese laptops have. "This isn't an OEM part, it was made in-house for Sony or Panasonic laptops," says Krone.

Fueling this technology edge are the paradoxical spending habits of Japanese consumers. "In aggregate, Japanese are savers, but when they buy, they go for the best and are willing to pay a premium in exchange for higher quality," said Krone. He added that this thinking is common with hardcore tech lovers in the US, but does not apply to the "the general population."

So, what if a laptop purchased from Dynamism breaks? Krone says that his company provides unlimited toll-free tech support, "for as long as you have the computer". In the event of a hardware failure during the regular warranty period, Dynamism will pay for shipping and replace the part free of charge.

Not too many people though had to take advantage of the free shipping, simply because of the general high build quality. "The Japanese are on the bleeding edge of technology and quality, our philosophy in the US is more to make it cheap and pump it out," said Krone.

Dynamism started in 1997 "purely by accident" after Krone brought home a small Japanese-market only laptop back to the United States. "It was the old IBM PC110 that was only sold in Japan and all my friends wanted to know where I got it," he said. It was then when he realized that some money could be made from importing laptops and started Dynamism. The company has grown steadily and now has 15 employees plus an office in Akihabara. In addition to notebooks, the company offers today cellular phones and other gadgets to American buyers.

What's the wackiest product Dynamism sells? Krone told us it has to be the USB Sushi flash memory. "It makes a great conversation piece," said Krone.