List includes nine smartphones, one tablet, one Raku-Raku device
Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo has revealed the lineup of mobile devices that it will start offering over the summer. Eleven models make the cut, including nine smartphones, one tablet, and one "Raku-Raku" simplified smartphone. Notable additions include a new Sony Xperia smartphone, the Aquos Phone Zeta, and the Aquos Pad tablet from Sharp.
Aims to replace paper with touchscreen e-ink display for note taking
Sony has been working on a device for using e-ink as digital paper in an educational setting. Aimed at universities as a replacement for pen and paper-based notetaking by students, the prototype is a 13.3-inch, 1200x1600-resolution, 16-level gray scale e-ink display-as-tablet with touchscreen capabilities, as well as stylus input for drawing and writing.
Three-year plan will halve employee count at head office
Sharp will be drastically cutting its number of employees over the next three years, as part of a plan to financially rectify itself. Out of the 51,000 currently employed by the company worldwide, Sharp will be reportedly cull 5,000 jobs across the board, with its main office in Osaka, Japan losing approximately half of its workforce.
Regional growth rates relatively modest
Following an official announcement of its Q2 results, Apple has also posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its performance. Notably, the 19.477 million iPads the company sold was a jump of 65 percent year-over-year. This may however have come at the expense of Mac, which saw units fall 2 percent to 3.952 million. Mac revenue did however rise 7 percent to $5.447 billion, while iPad revenue grew 40 percent to $8.746 billion.
Results of searches continue to link man to criminal acts
A Japanese court has ordered Google to censor terms used in autocomplete that relate to one specific person. The ruling by the Tokyo District Court also awarded the unknown person 300,000 yen ($3,100) for the "mental anguish" endured, caused by the association of his name with various criminal acts in autocomplete-derived searches.
Purpose likely related to potential smartphone lawsuits
Apple has agreed to pay 1 billion yen, roughly $10 million US, to license patents originally devised by Palm and Palm OS creator PalmSource, among other companies, according to Macotakara. The patents are now owned by a Japanese company called Access. Beyond the Palm properties, Apple has also licensed concepts belonging to Geoworks and Bell Communications Research.
Division merger, management reshuffle part of company streamlining
Sony is merging its Computer Entertainment units in Japan and Asia into a single division for the region, in an effort to streamline the business. The creation of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia comes after low quarterly results in February showed Sony's gaming division losing 15.1-percent on sales year-on-year, and an overall net loss of $124 million.
6.1.3 update still in beta
At least some promised Maps upgrades are reaching Japanese iOS users even though iOS 6.1.3 isn't available to the public, says Japanese site Macotakara. The improvements were originally slated to debut in v6.1.1, but were postponed when Apple had to deal with several major glitches. It's not clear how the v6.1.3 changes are propagating without new firmware, but at least some changes might be possible via updated map downloads.
Includes manga, other paid content
Apple has released iBooks 3.1 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. While a minor update in most countries, v3.1 is the first to bring the full iBookstore to Japan. Previously, only public domain books were available in the country; now though the store has a variety of paid titles, including manga comics.
Company promises to take 'measures necessary'
Samsung has lost an important ruling in its Japanese lawsuit versus Apple, according to Reuters and The Times of India. The company has been barred from asserting several data transmission patents against the iPhone. "We are disappointed by today's court decision," Samsung responds in an official statement. "Following a thorough review of the ruling, we will take the measures necessary to protect our intellectual property rights."
Notebook lids inspired by Sega console history
Game producer Sega has started to sell limited edition branded notebooks. The range of four notebooks, sold in partnership with Japanese retailer Enterbrain, have lid designs that resemble consoles from the company's history, namely the Sega Saturn, the Dreamcast, and the Mega Drive, as well as a fourth that matches the blue in Sega's logo.
Foreign-made handsets combined top 50 percent for first time
Apple has managed to nab the top spot in Japan's feature and smartphone market rankings for the first time, reaching 16 percent market share in the calendar fourth quarter and 15 percent share overall for 2012. The change reflects Japan's growing diversity of offerings, particularly from foreign brands rather than local companies such as Sharp and Fujitsu, the former of whom was toppled from a six-year run as the top handset provider by Apple's growth.
Company cites cost of OS modification as justification
BlackBerry will not launch the new BlackBerry 10 line of products in Japan, citing the cost of modifying its operating system to accommodate the Japanese language, Nikkei Business Daily has reported. Over the last two years, BlackBerry's market share has plummeted to 0.3 percent from five percent. Japan is nevertheless considered a major market, with 24 million smartphones in circulation in the country.
Follows recent introduction of Nexus 10 to Play store
Google has started to sell the 3G-enabled version of the Nexus 7 in Japan, alongside the existing Wi-Fi models. The Wi-Fi + 3G Android tablet, with 32GB of storage and support for W-CDMA and HSPA+, has gone on sale a few days after it's 10-inch counterpart, the Nexus 10, reached the same regional Google Play store.
$200 figure will likely never make it to market
Following in the footsteps of others that have attempted to market a Steve Jobs action figure, a Japanese company called Legend Toys has made another eerily realistic doll based on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' iconic look and is taking pre-orders for the $200, 12-inch figurine. As with previous attempts, the company will likely be served with a cease-and-desist order both from Jobs' family as well as Apple itself, which has previously claimed that it owns at least some of the rights to Jobs' likeness.
Companies battling over media sync technology
Samsung is petitioning the Intellectual Property High Court in Tokyo to dismiss an Apple appeal in a patent infringement case, one which Samsung won last August, Bloomberg reports. The parties made their first oral arguments on Monday, and are slated to appear in court again on March 21st. The two corporations are disputing an Apple patent on syncing music and video with servers; before the Tokyo District Court ruled against it, Apple was seeking 100 million yen ($1.1 million) in damages for the supposed infringement.
Apple Japan relocating Tokyo headquarters to suburb in spring
Apple will be committing upwards of $2.2 billion in order to take over two whole floors of the 54-story Mori Tower as it relocates its Apple Japan headquarters from one part of the capital city to another. Mori Tower is the centerpiece of Roppongi Hills, a high-end business property development, reports Bloomberg. Apple Japan is presently located in Tokyo Opera City Tower and plans to complete the move before the beginning of summer. One reason for the move could be related to the real estate market: office rentals are down to less than half of what they fetched at their peak, about five years ago. Securing a long-term lease ahead of an expected recovery in the market could save Apple money, though the length of the new lease hasn't been revealed.
Android apps usable on single screen or spanning both
An Android smartphone with hinged dual screens has been revealed as part of NTT DoCoMo's new range of mobile phones. Originally shown at Mobile World Congress last year, the NEC Medias W has a pair of 540x960 TFT LCD displays measuring 4.3 inches, which when unfolded, gives the user a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1080x960.
Puts end to otherwise uninterrupted iPad dominance
The Google Nexus 7 beat the iPad at Japanese retail stores during the holiday season, says research firm BCN. The group surveyed 2,400 electronics stores around the country in December, and found that the Nexus 7 accounted for 44.4 percent of the tablet market, while the iPad took home 40.1 percent. Tablets made by local companies, such as Sony, only accounted for 2 to 3 percent of sales.
Confirms earlier reports of Tizen OS handset development
Samsung has confirmed it will be making Tizen-based devices, with the first of the range expected later this year. The announcement comes shortly after reports surfaced at the end of 2012, claiming the manufacturer was working with NTT DoCoMo Vodafone, and Intel to ship a handset in Japan, followed by other Asian and European regions shortly afterwards.
Talks still ongoing with major Japanese publishers
Apple should finally launch paid titles at the Japanese iBookstore sometime this year, according to sources for AllThingsD. The company is reportedly negotiating with several Japanese publishers, such as Kodansha, Shogakukan, and Kadokawa. Talks are said to be making progress, and agreements may be completed soon. Allegedly, though, a launch won't happen as fast as the Nikkei has suggested, which is later this month.
Open mobile operating system to spread across Asia, Europe
Samsung is to launch its first Tizen-based smartphone in 2013, according to reports. The open-source operating system, being developed in partnership with NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone, Intel and others, will apparently appear on a handset in Japan in early 2013, and will spread to other Asian and European countries shortly afterwards.
Withdraws PS2 from Japan, unknown for other regions
Sony is putting a stop to sales of the long-standing and popular PlayStation 2 game console in Japan. The electronics giant made an announcement earlier today that there will be no more shipments to Japanese retailers, in the future, and that the only remaining stock on the market are consoles held on store shelves or warehouses.
Android phone for elderly users to boost Fujitsu exports
Fujitsu is planning to bring its line of easy-to-use Android smartphones designed for the elderly to the US and Europe. Aimed at seniors and the infirm, the Raku Raku range has seen success in Japan, thanks to its simplified interface and various pre-installed applications designed to make communicating easier.
P-02E to sport 1920x1080 display, Android 4.1.2
Panasonic has had another handset approved by the FCC, with filings from the regulatory body revealing what appears to be a high-end Android device. The P-02E sports a recent version of Jelly Bean, NFC, LTE, and a high-resolution screen. It doesn't appear to be coming to the United States any time soon, though; the filing has the device headed for Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo.
Bags could include big-ticket items
Apple has formally announced the 2013 Lucky Bag sale for Japan. The event will take place January 2nd at Apple Stores, and offer a bag costing 33,000 yen (about $390 US) that will typically include a random assortment of products like cases, headphones, and/or an iPod touch. Some bags, though, will contain a high-ticket item like an iPad or even a MacBook Air.
Notebook has bigger screen, maintains half-inch thickness
NEC is preparing to release a notebook that updates its thin line of ultrabooks in Japan with a new size of display, among other upgrades. The LaVie X has a 15.6-inch full HD IPS display, bigger than the LaVie Z's 13.3-inch display shown back in May, while keeping a slender profile that measures 12.8mm (half an inch) thick at its thinnest point.
Softbank, KDDI pull in DoCoMo customers
Japan's largest cellphone carrier, NTT DoCoMo, has posted a net loss of 40,800 subscribers for the month of November, Reuters reports. The company is blaming the draw of the iPhone 5, which is only carried in Japan by DoCoMo's two main rivals, KDDI and Softbank. DoCoMo adds that the bleed is the first time it has seen subscribers drop in over five years, and its worst drop to date.
LED screen measures 20-inches, supports stylus input
Shortly after its announcement to sell a 4K IGZO monitor in February, Sharp is also preparing to release a 20-inch touchscreen display in Japan. The LL-S201A, branded "Big Pad" by the manufacturer, supports up to ten points of multi-touch input, as well as a stylus with a 2mm tip for more precise work.
Samsung expected to appeal ruling
A Japanese court has reportedly rejected two of Samsung's patent infringement claims against Apple. In separate rulings, the Tokyo District Court determined that Apple's iPhone 4 and 4S do not infringe two Samsung patents related to app downloads and airplane-mode configuration.
Touch screens, eye tracking included in new offerings
Fujitsu has listed a number of devices for the Windows 8 launch. A water-resistant tablet, a tablet that transforms into a notebook, two standard notebooks and a touch-screen PC join the already-announced Floral Kiss Ultrabook line for the October 26th Microsoft operating system launch in Japan.
Notebook planned by female Fujitsu employees
Fujitsu is launching a range of female-oriented Ultrabooks in Japan. Called Floral Kiss, the range hopes to "bring elegance to PCs", and was planned and developed primarily by female Fujitsu employees. The Windows 8 notebooks will be made available in three colors: Elegant White, Feminine Pink and Luxury Brown.
Five-inch handset unlikely to be released elsewhere
HTC is soon to release a long-awaited phone-tablet, with the initial launch taking place in Japan. The HTC J Butterfly, a previously rumored phablet set to compete with the Samsung Galaxy Note line, has a five-inch HD Super LCD 3 display, capable of a 1920x1080 resolution, and a density of 440 pixels per inch.
Deal could be worth over $19 billion
Major Japanese carrier Softbank is in negotiations to buy Sprint Nextel, Bloomberg reports. The publication cites two sources said to be familiar with the talks. According to Japan's Nikkei newspaper, Softbank may be prepared to spend over 1.5 trillion yen -- more than $19 billion US -- on the deal, though where the paper's information comes from isn't mentioned.
End goal likely to be lighter portables
Apple's recently-rumored carbon fiber purchase from a Japanese company is part of a much larger initiative, Macotakara says it has learned. The site now claims that the research division of the company has been working with Apple for at least three years. To what end, though, still hasn't been mentioned.
Fate of new iPod nano still unknown
[Updated with news of Nano shipments] Apple is beginning to ship the first online orders of the fifth-generation iPod touch, reports say. In general, shipments appear set to be delivered on or around October 15, in the US and some other countries as well, including Australia. The player may in fact already be available in some Apple retail outlets.
Japanese carrier also releasing AR translation app
Japan's NTT DoCoMo is set to launch the world's first Android-based commercial mobile service for conversation translation. Hanashite Hon'yaku provides automatic voice translations between Japanese and another of three languages, with results not only being displayed on-screen, but read out to each side of the conversation as by a voice synthesizer.
KDDI, Softbank outlets hit
Thieves in Osaka, Japan managed to steal 191 iPhone 5s in the early hours before the phone's launch today, the Wall Street Journal reports. Police say that three stores across the city were hit; the first incident happened at one of carrier KDDI's au stores in the suburb of Ibaraki. Local residents called the police shortly before 3AM, saying that three men were skulking around the outlet. 33 iPhones were taken, and neither the men nor the phones have been found.
Expansion to UK, Europe also expected by Xcom
Xcom Global, the Internet access rental service used by people travelling internationally to any of 195 countries, is making the move to include LTE connections in its plans. A deal between Xcom and Emobile will allow visitors to Japan to rent a Huawei GL01P hotspot and use the prevalent 75Mbps LTE connections in the country, with future plans to expand the option further afield.
Apple TV support arrives year after service's Japanese debut
Hulu is now accessible via the Apple TV in Japan, according to an official announcement. The option doesn't require a firmware upgrade; instead, as with an equivalent update to US Apple TVs, Hulu should simply appear in the set-top's menus. People can try Hulu for a month before a paid subscription is needed.
Foxconn could buy Sharp TV plants in China, Mexico
Hon Hai and Sharp are considering making a $1 billion investment in the latter's LCD plant in Sakai, Japan to help production of displays for Apple devices, Reuters reports. C.C. Lin, an official for Hon Hai -- better known as Foxconn -- made the interest public earlier this week. Lin suggests that Hon Hai is also considering buying Sharp's TV assembly factories in China and Mexico; as for the Japanese investment though, Reuters indicates that an arrangement could be announced as soon as Friday.
Regional growth relatively even
As a part of its Q3 results announcement, Apple has posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its performance. In the Americas, for instance, revenue rose 26 percent year-over-year to hit $12.806 billion. Unlike some past quarters in fact regional growth was relatively evenly distributed, up 16 percent in Europe (to $8.237 billion), 33 percent in Japan ($2.009 billion), and 25 percent in the Asia-Pacific region ($7.887 billion). Worldwide retail revenues grew 17 percent to $4.084 billion.
PC instruction schools expand on classes started in factories
Fujitsu is going to offer build-your-own computer classes to customers in Japan. The Hands-on Custom PC Assembly Service will teach absolute beginners how to build their own computer, as well as fundamental knowledge about its inner workings, and to perform computer support tasks themselves.
Japan receives Sony service 19 months after initial launch
Sony Entertainment Network has launched its Music Unlimited service in Japan. Users will be able to access over 10 million songs from the catalogs of Sony Music, EMI, Universal, Warner Music, and other independent labels through the all-you-can-eat music streaming service.
Downloads punishable by two million yen fine, two years in prison
A change to copyright law in Japan sees harsher penalties on illegal downloaders of movies and music. Japan's legislature, the Diet, made downloading a crime punishable by a fine of two million yen ($25,000) or up to two years in prison. Some groups, including the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, find this to be an excessive measure in a country that still relies on the sales and rentals of physical CDs and DVDs as opposed to legal download services.
Amazon first foreign company to become an NVMO in Japan
Amazon will be the first foreign company to offer a prepaid wireless service in Japan. Nikkei [account required] reports prepaid SIM cards with 500MB preallocated to it will be sold for 1,980 Yen ($25) through the website, and as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), will be carried by NTT Docomo's LTE network. This takes place ahead of the expected Japanese launch of the Amazon Kindle in the summer.
Helium balloons with phone mast tech tested in Japan
Japanese cell network Softbank is testing blimps to determine if the dirigibles could be used for network coverage during natural disasters. If proved successful, the technique could be used to keep communication lines open during events such as last year's earthquake and tsunami.
Android takes largest percentage of OS share
The iPhone was the bestselling smartphone in Japan during 2011, according to data from MM Research. Apple sold 7.25 million units, giving it 30 percent of smartphone sales, and 17 percent of all cellphone sales. Android, though, was the most popular smartphone platform, beating out iOS with a 69 percent share. Together the two operating systems accounted for 99 percent of Japanese smartphone sales.
145-inch flicker free 8K TV developed in Japan
Panasonic and Japanese broadcaster NHK have worked together on a 145-inch plasma TV with a native resolution of 7680x4320. The 8K display, referred to as "Super Hi-Vision" in Japan, is a marked increase in size compared to another NHK collaboration of 85 inches.
Sony waterproof Handycam identical to European
Sony has outed a water- and dust-proof Handycam in Japan, similar to another video camera bound for Europe soon. The company suggests the HDR-GW77V can be left underwater for up to an hour at a depth of 16 feet, resists dust, and can survive up to a five-foot drop.