google japan

Japan loves vending machines. You know those machines with iPods and Bose headphones at the airport? Japan had them first, among, many, many others, including machines for liquor, live bait, produce, Pokemon, and various other slightly insane things. Now it looks like Google is joining the fray with a promotional machine that dispenses Android games right to your phone. What?


Engadget was on-hand at a Google event where the company showed off one of three vending machines that will soon go into service. The machine will pair with your Android 4.0 or higher device via NFC, then let you install free or paid games ostensibly from the machine itself. I don't mean to be a spoilsport or anything, but... why? Did Google forget that they run one of the biggest digital download services on the planet, a large portion of which is exclusively dedicated to game delivery? What is the advantage of tying these downloads to a huge machine with a touchscreen interface? Wouldn't a $10 banner with a bunch of screenshots and QR codes achieve pretty much the same thing?

vending2 vending3 vending1

The machine has one advantage over browsing the Play Store: it can dispense a loaner Nexus 4 for you to play a few rounds on, which you have to give back. You'll also get a free gift (presumably some kind of small trinket) for completing a sale. But once again, the physical nature of the machine comes with a huge limitation: only 18 games are available for download or purchase. They include some huge titles from staples like Square, Sega, Namco, Gameloft, and Kairosoft, but how can that compare to a selection of hundreds of thousands of games that are already available from your device?

At the end of the day this is probably just a publicity stunt, meant to take advantage of the country's almost cultural fascination for vending machines of all shapes, sizes, and utilities. Three machines will be activated at department stores in Tokyo, and no, you almost certainly will not see them anywhere else.

Source: Engadget

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
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  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

    Because Japan.

    • varun

      Specifically, the lack of credit/debit card usage in Japan. If that thing takes cash, then there's your solution to people not carrying cards.

      • Brittan Dopp

        Yep, not to mention targeting younger markets. Put these things in the eki and kids have something to do during their commute.

  • FarmerTechno

    If games are installed through NFC, seems like this may save on mobile data, maybe? The real question is, how long until there's a Hello Kitty version?

    • GazaIan

      I don't think it actually installs over NFC, just pairs over NFC. The game would probably be sent over Bluetooth or just may actually use mobile data (tell the phone download Y app, just like the web play store can do).

  • Roberto Giunta

    "...for some reason"? Because it's cool, of course! And Japan is one of the few countries left with a proper Arcade culture.

    • Primalxconvoy

      Again, incorrect. Japanese arcades are all but dead here. Most kids play on ds' s while others play on consoles and phones.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

    ok. I can kind of understand this for advertising purposes, but why is it so huge? It looks like it's the width of 1.5 - 2 normal vending machines.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      They didn't want the other vending machines to beat it up at school.

    • Magneira

      Its japan man... japan...

      • RitishOemraw

        Holy crap you are right, it is JAPAN-MAN! Save us, Japan-man! Japan-man Ron Amadeo to the rescue!

        O...wait nvm...I misread that :P

    • Bluewall

      Bigger doesn't mean better AMIRITE ?

    • mateorod

      So it looks like a phone

    • RitishOemraw

      bigger advertisements have more effect?

  • Magneira

    publicy stunt? its clear you dont get japan at al... diferent country, diferent culture!

    • thartist

      Duh, that's obvious, the point is that it's bizarre publicity. Build a super limited gigantic arcade machine that loans you a nexus?

  • chokkan

    Reason is because there are so many morons here who a) Don't know how to download apps b) Will flock to anything that is 'popular'.

    • Primalxconvoy

      Especially if they appear on national tv in Japan. Once that happens, there will be 2 Hour long queues nationwide.

  • Brittan Dopp

    Japan is a very cash driven society. This actually makes sense since people don't usually really on digital payment methods.

    • Primalxconvoy

      Except that the machines probably use suica or equivilent technology too.

      • Brittan Dopp

        I never said it couldn't have both. Picture this:

        I am a Jr high student on the way home from school and I'm at the train station. I've got a phone and I want to buy a game to play on the ride home, but I don't have any form of currency other than the change in my pocket. With this I can try the game out, then purchase it if I like.

        • Primalxconvoy

          Yes I understand. I suspect though that as they are in_department stores, they are aimed at middle aged or older Japanese women, as they are more likely not to pay online, use the Google marketplace and frequent department stores. Jhs kids also are forbidden from bringing phones to school.I suspect a better escape for you would be a hs student.

          • Brittan Dopp

            Good point. Makes sense.

  • sensible

    This actually makes a lot of sense to me. I can see that many people who make frequent online purchases and have unlimited broadband would see little reason for this. Personally I don't like online payments, its the reason I don't have any paid apps on my phone (only free stuff). My internet is also limited, being a student here in South Africa I use mobile internet as my main connection.

    • someone755

      I don't, ever, purchase stuff online. So putting one of these somewhere near where I live would be a genious idea!
      Google should so start selling these, I want one in my local shop :I

    • mpelo

      agree, I also don't like credit cards/ online payment, would be happy if this vending machine also available on my country.

  • gbyers72

    This is what someone spent their 20% on at Google

  • TY

    FYI, iPhone is literally dominating the Japanese smart phone market. Thus I believe this "vendor machine" is more like a booth for people to experience Android gaming, with the added function of selling them at the same time. Also.. NEXUS NEXUS NEXUS

    • Primalxconvoy

      Incorrect. Android, from sales and market share, is still the most popular smartphone in Japan, due to_docomo's reliance on it until recently.

      • TY

        I want Android to win too, but where did you get your data from?

        I've heard that iPhones are everywhere in Japan. ONLY docomo don't sell the iPhone (which it sells starting from the 5S).

        And look at this: http://bcnranking.jp/category/subcategory_0010.html
        You can also view August's sales figures.

        • Primalxconvoy

          " According to U.S. research firm Strategy Analytics, Sony ranked No. 1 in Japan`s smartphone market in the second quarter this year with a 22 percent share helped by robust sales of Xperia Z. Apple ranked second with 21 percent and Samsung Electronics third with 13 percent. It is the first time Sony ranked top in Japan since 2011."

          - http://english.donga.com/srv/service.php3?biid=2013091790058

          (posted SEPTEMBER 17, 2013 01:31)

          Docomo is the biggest mobile phone carrier in Japan and until recently, sold only Android handsets. Thus, although Apple's iphone may have arguably more mindshare, sales of Android handsets to the average Tanaka-san were bigger.

          Hope that helps.

  • James

    Google just saved a lot of money for PR thanks to these stupid machines

  • remister

    Subliminal Mickey Mouse on the left? MWHAHAHAHA!

  • John Smith

    Is a white jumpsuit Google's dress code in Japan ?

  • Primalxconvoy

    "Japan loves vending machines. You know those machines with iPods and Bose headphones at the airport? Japan had them first..."

    Really? It's just that I've been living in Japan for about ten years now and the first time I ever saw a vending machine of that type was at Dallas, Fort Worth airport.

    I do wish you tech journalists would stop gushing over Japan and do some actual research.

  • Chronus719

    Well, there are a couple reasons that I can see this happening. Someone previously mentioned that Japan is a very cash-based society, and it's true. I can't even get a freaking debit card with my "checking" account here. I basically have to go to the bank or an ATM if I'm ever low on cash. So, it makes sense if it takes cash. Moreover, if you don't have an unlimited data plan here (which can be a bit expensive), then you will pay out the ass to download that game. They do it "per packet" if you don't have an unlimited plan, which means you pay pretty high rates for whatever you might download.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AndroidAppsGamesHacking AndroidAppsGamesHacking

    uhh google keeps on trying for new things, but ends up doing things like this, play store would do this huh...

  • dude

    Why is this a surprise, you can buy Henessy and used school girl panties in Japan.

    • dude

      In vending machines I mean.

  • RitishOemraw

    It would make sense to me if it offered you apps to play for a limited time.
    Put it around transit stations or in waiting rooms and people might just 'hire' an app while they are waiting. (assuming the price is actually very cheap given the actual price of the app)
    With the option to buy the full game if you really like it.