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Platformed Convenience: How Convenience Stores Built the Platform Economy
Thursday, 15 Apr 2021
4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Webinar registration link:
Asian Studies Center
Event Details:


What is the appeal of platforms? How do they
hook us into their use? Why, for instance, is the
chat app turned super app LINE so popular in
Japan, WeChat so widely used in China and in the
diaspora, or iMessage so widely used by iPhone
users? Connection, intimacy, widespread use and
value (what economists call "network effects"), the
access to news and other services – these are all
some of the reasons why platforms are widely
taken up and used. Yet one crucial term missing
from this list of explanations is: convenience.
This talk will analyze the crucial place of
convenience in the platform era. Building on earlier
work on one of the prototypical systems that was an inspiration for iPhones and
Android alike, Japan's i-mode, this talk will examine how convenience was a key
attribute of this early i-mode system. In doing so, it will explore one of i-mode's unlikely
inspirations: Japan's convenience stores.

Marc Steinberg is Associate Professor of Film Studies at Concordia University,
Montreal, and director of The Platform Lab. He is the author Anime's Media Mix:
Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan (University of Minnesota Press, 2012,
translated into Japanese and Italian), The Platform Economy: How Japan Transformed
the Commercial Internet (University of Minnesota Press, 2019), and Media and
Management (University of Minnesota Press, 2021).