Galápagos syndrome (ガラパゴス化 Garapagosu-ka?) is a term of Japanese origin, which refers to an isolated development branch of a globally available product. The term is a reference to similar phenomena Charles Darwin encountered in the Galápagos Islands, with its isolated flora and fauna, which were key observations in the development of Evolutionary Theory.
The term was originally coined to refer to Japanese 3G mobile phones, which had developed a large number of specialized features and dominated Japan, but were unsuccessful abroad. The term arose as part of the dialog about Japan's position as an island nation, and related anxiety about being isolated from the world at large. The term has since been used for similar phenomena in other markets. A derived term is Gara-phone (ガラケー gara-kei?), blending with "mobile phone" (携帯 keitai?), used to refer to Japanese feature phones, by contrast with newer smart phones.
- "Japan’s cellphones are like the endemic species that Darwin encountered on the Galápagos Islands — fantastically evolved and divergent from their mainland cousins — explains Takeshi Natsuno, who teaches at Tokyo’s Keio University."
- "Japanese phones suffer from 'Galapagos Syndrome' — are too complex to survive abroad.
- The United States' outdated usage of magnetic stripe for credit cards can also be considered a form of the Galapagos Syndrome as everywhere else has moved onto using EMV smart cards. "In the Americas, the more mature, out-dated magstripe cards are the dominant if not exclusive technology for swiping a payment. In Europe and Asia -- virtually everywhere else, they use a smart chip technology which is a little, gold square on the front of every debit and credit card which you insert, not swipe. This is also known as "EMV" (Europay, MasterCard, Visa)." 
- "It has been claimed that the indigenous American automotive industry has suffered from the Galapagos Syndrome – its products have evolved separately from the rest of the world."
- "The Galapagosization of Japan continues. According to a survey released today, a shocking two-thirds of the country’s white-collar workers said they didn’t want to work abroad…ever."
- "The same question has occurred to me recently upon hearing, with greater and greater frequency, the "explanation" of Japanese culture being garapagosuka ("galapagosized")."
- Tabuchi, Hiroko (July 19, 2009). "Why Japan’s Cellphones Haven’t Gone Global". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
The Japanese have a name for their problem: Galápagos syndrome. Japan’s cellphones are like the endemic species that Darwin encountered on the Galápagos Islands — fantastically evolved and divergent from their mainland cousins — explains Takeshi Natsuno, who teaches at Tokyo’s Keio University.
- "Jargon Watch". Wired magazine. October 19, 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
Galápagos syndrome n. The scourge of Japanese mobile companies, whose superadvanced 3G handsets won’t work on foreign cell networks. It’s named for the birds of the Galápagos, whose specialized beaks don’t cut it on the mainland.
- Devin Stewart (April 29, 2010). "Slowing Japan's Galapagos Syndrome". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
'Galapagos syndrome,' a phrase originally coined to describe Japanese cell phones that were so advanced they had little in common with devices used in the rest of the world, could potentially spread to other parts of society. Indeed signs suggest it is happening already.
- "Galápagos syndrome". The Daily Tech Log. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
- "High-Tech Startup Focus: iZettle -- the New, Better Square -- Coming Soon to America?". Huffington Post. November 20, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
- "Industry follows the money". Financial Times. March 4, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
- Sanchanta, Mariko (2010-09-16). "Japan’s Workers: Please Don’t Send Me Abroad. Ever.". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
- Pulvers, Roger (2011-01-23). "Is 'Galapagos-thinking' Japan back at its evolutionary dead end?". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
- Slowing Japan's Galapagos Syndrome article from Huffington Post.
- Japan’s Under-used Economic Engine — The Internet?
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