is there enough traffic between NY and LA (for example) to recuperate the cost of construction and operations.
You mean "recoup".
it could've been a real competitor if it hadn't come out 2 years too late to make a squirt.
Possibly the *only* thing that Japanese web services do better than US ones is offering ZIP code-based lookups for pre-filling as much of the address as possible. I suspect that the following factors have helped make this a nearly ubiquitous feature:
1. Addresses in Japanese start "general" and move toward "specific", e.g. ZIP > Prefecture > city > neighborhood > building. US addresses follow the opposite scheme.
2. The Japanese post office supplies relevant ZIP code data for free. I don't think they offer paid lookup services so you have to roll your own, but it's fairly trivial.
3. Japanese address input can be more cumbersome than other languages. If your address includes uncommon characters then it can be a pain to input them.
4. Japanese web users are (I feel) less savvy and need more hand-holding.
Without more information, "shinjitai" could be either "(I) want to believe" or it could be what the parent was referring to, e.g. the kanji variants currently in use in modern-day Japan.
Facebook is already a big player in Japan. They passed 10 million users last fall. Sure, there are bigger networks, but to say Facebook is ignored "almost completely" is simply not true.
It's a common passtime for frustrated language learners and bewildered outsiders to claim that Chinese and Japanese would be better off without hanzi/kanji. Unfortunately, your argument is based on nothing but hyperbole and a false sense of superiority.
The Japanese writing system is one of those monolithic, looming monstrosities of inefficiency and folly that make you question how it could ever have evolved
Ignoring your "folly" troll, your first problem is a lack of reasonable definition of "efficiency" for a writing system. Yes, it takes longer to learn kanji/hanzi than most phonetic alphabets, but you make up a lot of that time with benefits such as instantaneous understanding of novel words (because you know the component characters). I frequently come across e.g. technical terms that are self-explanatory in Japanese, but are gibberish in English without a background in Latin and/or Greek.
Or would you care to measure "efficiency" as "expressiveness per unit length of text?" In that case, Chinese and Japanese absolutely destroy English.
In Japanese, kanji help the eye parse text by indicating word boundaries. That's why reading all-hiragana children's books is an exercise in frustration (despite the fact that they add spaces between words when usually there are none).
As others have noted, Japanese has a high frequency of homophones that kanji are useful for distinguishing between.
Widespread use of computers has made kanji/hanzi more accessible. Computerized input has made previously-obscure characters much more common. While I don't have data to cite here, I suspect overall kanji literacy has increased over the last few decades.
I'm sure I could come up with more, but I'll stop here.
Basically, these "I don't like kanji" whines are old hat, and really serve no useful purpose. Chinese and Japanese writing systems work just fine as-is for the people who actually use them. The only people arguing for getting rid of hanzi/kanji are non-literate people who don't really have a dog in the race to begin with. And if you're a native English speaker who really wants or needs to learn hanzi/kanji, you absolutely can. I did.
Peter Hessler covers this very well in Country Driving. Young migrant workers flock from the poor inland regions to the coasts looking for factory work. They want to work as much overtime as possible 1) because they want to earn as much money as possible as quickly as possible, and 2) because they are far from home and aren't interested in spending time or money on leisure (their "real lives" are back home, and they've come out solely to work).
Because of this, jobs offering more working hours and less vacation are desirable from the workers' point of view.
You can argue that this situation is problematic; it exists because wages are too low and there's an oversupply of labor; without these issues, individual workers would have more leverage to secure a decent living wage without having to work ridiculous hours. But given the current reality, the fact is that massive overtime is not only common, it's sought after.
"The" is not just a filler word. Articles "the" and "a" serve to determine the specificity of the noun they precede. "The girl" is a known, specific girl who has already been identified within the flow of conversation. "A girl" is an as-yet unspecified girl who is newly being introduced to the conversation. "Girl," with no article whatsoever, is likely to be interpreted as a proper noun of some sort.
The possessive "its" does not have an apostrophe anywhere, either before or after the "s".
It's "hear, hear".
It depends on the model. I once had an iBook that required an almost complete teardown in order to get at the HDD. But these days most Apple machines have easily-accessible HDDs that are of course considered to be "user-replaceable."