Japan's Cybercafés Go Upmarket

Customers love the amenities, but the cost of providing DVDs, massage chairs, and refreshments hurts profits for mom-and-pop outfits

These ought to be difficult days for operators of Internet cafés in Japan. After all, why would Japanese go to a cybercafé when the widespread availability of broadband means most homes can have reliable, high-speed connections to the Net? With download speeds typically 10 times faster than in the U.S., Japanese surfers enjoy the fastest broadband connections in the world. And the Japanese increasingly don't need computers to go online. The first country in the world to offer 3G services back in 2001, Japan is today a leader in mobile Internet use.

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