The Infobar 2: Like the Infobar 1, only infobarrier plus BONUS RANT!

I’m going to take this opportunity to say something that has been bothering me all week here at CEATEC: Japan is no longer the home of innovation. Sure, they kicked our asses for years in terms of wireless media, cellphone design, and PC/laptop manufacturing but at this late date I think the iPhone can kick any DoCoMo clamshell and I haven’t seen a single thing here — NOTHING, mind you — that I haven’t seen or heard of in the U.S. already and that would even mildly twiddle my neophilia sensors.

Wonka bars!

Take the Infobar 2, for example. This is a candybar cellphone designed by famous Japanese designer Sum Guy. The phone is about as long as a Zune and has a bunch of buttons on the front and plays mobile TV. It’s shaped like “melted candy” or some crap which is designer code for “I got hungry and drew a Hershey bar.”

Everything I saw here was an incremental improvement over the previous generation of the exact same thing. The Japanese trade show attitude is “pull all the nerds out of R&D, show home wireline communications gear and robots made out of watch parts and hide everything cool at the back where even the young ladies in mid-riff baring futuristic bra ensembles can’t find it.” It really pisses me off that the world of the future is, in reality, about as futuristic as a mall in Columbus, Ohio.

Does this mean that U.S. tech folks can rest on their laurels, a job well done? No, it means we need step things up considerably. If the Infobar 2 is the hottest cellphone release in Japan then these boys are definitely asleep. Come on, Motorola! Come on TiVo! Come on Sonos! Come on everyone who makes cool stuff in the U.S.! Take some risks. It can’t be much worse than this sleek melange of high design and low expectations.

I’m not saying you’re not pretty…