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Two-wheeler taxis among likely 2017 Asian consumer hits

Virtual reality games, Japanese food also populate the list

Motorcycle-hailing services have taken off in Jakarta.

TOKYO -- The eclectic group of products and services picked by Nikkei Inc. as likely 2017 consumer hits in Asian markets runs the gamut from motorcycle taxis to Japanese food.

In New Delhi and other Indian cities, two-wheeler taxis are gaining favor for their ability to snake through traffic jams. Rapido, a ride-hailing startup formed in 2015 exclusively for those vehicles, now operates with 400 bikes that can be summoned with a smartphone app. Two-wheeler taxis are common in traffic-heavy Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, and the service is on the verge of exploding in India.

Singapore's commuters increasingly over the past year have reached work using electric scooters and electric bicycles. Though these transportation tools are certainly green, they have been involved in a rising number of collisions with motor vehicles and pedestrians.

The government will enact speed limits and other rules governing these vehicles next year at the soonest. But the authorities also are letting people carry the e-vehicles on trains for a six-month trial period starting this month.

In Malaysia, Japanese-style onigiri rice balls and oden hot pots have taken off at a FamilyMart convenience store opened by Japan's FamilyMart UNY Holdings in November. In Thailand, vacationers returning from Japan continue to crave the country's cuisine. Some have even launched local cultivation of Yubari melons, a high-end breed developed in Hokkaido. Aomori apples sold in Vietnam by Japanese retailer Aeon have found fans among upper- and middle-class customers.

Virtual reality games are poised to become breakout hits next year. Chinese arcades have been installing those machines throughout the second half of this year. Players wear special goggles and headphones while movable chairs amplify the immersive experience. Sony VR gaming equipment also could take hold in Chinese households.

In South Korea, Samsung Electronics is set to release the Galaxy S8 smartphone next year. A revamp of the device is expected to eliminate the home button and add artificial intelligence. The company hopes the handset will make consumers forget about the Galaxy Note 7 debacle.


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