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Apple prepares Japanese R&D center, Brooklyn retail store

12/09, 11:12am

Williamsburg Apple Store expected to debut in April

Apple is in the process of establishing a research and development facility in Japan, according to the country's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. The disclosure was made in a campaign speech ahead of Sunday's general election. Abe didn't offer any more details except to say it should be "formally announced soon," and rank with Apple's largest R&D centers in Asia. The company has been establishing new offices across the world in the past couple of years, growing R&D beyond the confines of its Cupertino-area headquarters.

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Head of Xbox in Japan resigns as abysmal console sales continue

12/01, 2:05pm

Sensui will retain manager position in US, two executives to jointly assume role

The troubles for the Xbox One continue in Japan, not only because of the continuing trend of low sales, but also due to the recent resignation of Head of Xbox Japan Takashi Sensui. Sensui stepped down from his role as general manager of the Xbox division for Microsoft as of November 30, making way for his replacements Yoshinami Takahashi and Nobuyoshi Yokoi.

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Japanese man arrested for 3D printing guns gets two years in prison

10/22, 10:58pm

Man arrested in April for violating weapons laws convicted for printing two firearms

In what could be the first conviction for making a firearm with a desktop 3D printer, a former Japanese college employee was sentenced to almost two years in jail earlier this week after being arrested earlier this year. The 28-year-old man was convicted for printing at least two functional and lethal firearms, capable of firing bullets -- in violation of Japan's strict gun laws.

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Apple Q4 breakdown details hits to iPad, iPod numbers

10/20, 5:26pm

Company's performance generally healthy

In the wake of its official announcement, Apple has posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its Q4 financial results. On a regional basis, the company did well in most cases, for example increasing Americas revenue 17 percent year-over-year to $16.247 billion, and European revenue 19 percent to $9.535 billion. "Greater" China -- including Hong Kong and Taiwan -- advanced one percent to $5.778 billion, and Japan was up five percent to $3.507 billion. Only the rest of the Asia Pacific region saw problems, with revenue dipping three percent to $1.923 billion. Global retail sales rose 15 percent to $5.133 billion.

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Prototype Vaio-branded tablet unveiled with stylus, wireless keyboard

10/07, 7:14am

High-priced Vaio prototype could go on sale in Japan from May

The second attempt at a Vaio-branded notebook following the sale of Sony's PC business could give the Microsoft Surface some competition. A prototype consisting of a stylus-enabled tablet combined with a wireless keyboard has been shown off at Adobe Max 2014, with the company aiming to appease customers involved in design and illustration fields.

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Microsoft pushes Xbox One China to September 29, Japan sales sink

09/25, 8:00pm

Small delay keeps console on track to be first console since ban lift, 1,300 units sold in Japan

The delay of the Xbox One's release in China appears to only be a small hiccup for Microsoft. Reuters reports that the console will be going on sale on September 29, pushing the console back less than a week from its initial launch date of September 23. Meanwhile, sales of the console in Japan have sunk even lower, hitting approximately 1,300 units sold in its third week on the market.

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New iPhone 6, 6 Plus take lead in Japanese smartphone market

09/25, 11:39am

82.2 percent favoring regular iPhone 6

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are commanding the Japanese smartphone market, just a week into their availability, according to BCN sales rankings cited by Forbes. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 was the most popular phone overall, taking eight out of the top 10 spots, and even then the iPhone 5s claimed 5th and 8th places. The larger, 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus reached no higher than 11th, but still took five out of the next seven spots.

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Square Enix to start smartphone game rental service Dive In for Japan

09/11, 4:59pm

Program similar to Sony's PlayStation Now tiered rental service in the United States

Japanese video game publisher Square Enix announced a new initiative this week, putting some of its most popular games in the hands of mobile device users. The new program, called Dive In, allows users to rent Square Enix titles through a dedicated application ,and play them on their Android or iOS tablets and smartphones.

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Amazon battling on multiple fronts, Japanese publishers now protesting

08/31, 6:13pm

Japanese publishers calling Amazon to task for abusing market position

In addition to its fight with publisher Hachette and UK booksellers, Amazon is also battling a series of Japanese publishers. In the process of launching a new ranking system in the country, Amazon Japan is alienating publishers, giving higher rankings to sellers that pay a larger percentage of income back to Amazon, and also boosting search results of publishers that hold larger back catalogs for sale on the service.

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Sony to shutter PlayStation Home in Japan, Asia regions in 2015

08/24, 1:27pm

Virtual world to close its doors March 2015, service will continue in United States, Europe

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia announced that it is bringing a close to PlayStation Home in Japan and Asia regions at the end of March 2015. The service was launched as a competitor to Linden Research's Second Life, but was offered for free to any PlayStation 3 owner.

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Sharp Aquos Crystal launched in Japan, Sprint unveiling touted

08/18, 2:02pm

Slim-bezel Sharp Aquos Crystal may arrive in United States tomorrow

Sharp has created two new Aquos smartphones with an extremely minimal bezel, giving the appearance of an edge-to-edge display. The Aquos Crystal and the Aquos Crystal X, with respective 5-inch 720p and a 5.5-inch 1080p displays, will both be going on sale in Japan, with at least one of the devices heading to the United States in the near future.

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KDDI launches Butterfly J in Japan with HTC One internals, 13MP camera

07/31, 6:38am

Waterproofing, higher-resolution Duo Camera in Japan-specific HTC Butterfly J

A new version of the HTC One M8 for the Japanese market has been announced by local carrier KDDI. The HTC J Butterfly manages to hold on to the majority of the One M8's specifications, including its five-inch 1080p display, but stems down the same route as the One E8 in having a plastic body, with the Japan-specific smartphone also having a few more minor changes.

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Sony puts $345M towards boosting mobile image sensor production

07/23, 11:12am

Apple could be key client

Sony has announced plans to invest 35 billion yen, or about $345 million, on scaling up production of image sensors for phones and tablets. Manufacturing of stacked CMOS sensors will increase at two factories in the southern Japanese island of Kyushu; meanwhile, the company is planning to complete work on a factory in northwestern Japan that it bought from Renesas. The hope is to boost wafer output 13 percent to 68,000 per month by August 2015, moving towards a longer-term target of 75,000, itself just a mid-term goal.

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Apple Q3 breakdown shows biggest growth in China

07/22, 5:17pm

iPod continues terminal decline

In addition to its official announcement, Apple has also posted a detailed breakdown of its fiscal Q3 results. "Greater China" -- including Taiwan and Hong Kong -- continued to lead the charge regionally, with its revenue increasing 28 percent year-over-year to $5.935 billion. Europe and Asia-Pacific each advanced 6 percent, to $8.091 billion and $2.161 billion, respectively. Apple's most important market, the Americas, rose 1 percent to $14.577 billion. Global retail numbers were up 1 percent to $4.104 billion.

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Yahoo Endings gives Japan a one-stop shop for digital afterlife needs

07/16, 4:50pm

Service sends out notes after user passes away, cleans up personal data on Internet

Yahoo Japan launched an interesting service this week, one that gives people an option for deleting part of their digital lives once they reach the end of their physical ones. The service, called Yahoo Endings, offers users some basic services like will-writing, but also sends goodbye notes and deletes personal information from Yahoo.

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Apple Japan unveils Passbook-based iTunes Pass credit refill service

07/15, 9:17am

Could reach more regions soon

In Japan, Apple has unexpectedly announced iTunes Pass, a new service based on iOS' Passbook app. People wanting to refill their iTunes Store account can take an iPhone (or iPod touch) into a Japanese Apple Store and buy credit from a clerk, who then scans in the amount via Passbook. The money should be available immediately.

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Disney content returns to Japanese iTunes Store

07/09, 11:05am

Apple, Disney overcome contract dispute

Disney content is once again available on the Japanese version of the iTunes Store, according to an official statement. That content suddenly disappeared recently, and without explanation. In talking with Variety, though, Disney confirms that "the interruption was due to difficulties negotiating the renewal of the old contract between Apple and Disney Japan. The new contract was signed on Wednesday and both rentals (VoD) and electronic sell-through returned to normal."

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Japanese government considering removal of SIM locks on handsets

07/02, 5:04pm

Government could oblige carriers to remove locks, allow citizens device freedom

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry of Japan is considering a plan to remove all SIM locks from handsets in the country. Carriers would be obliged to remove the locks, ending a hold on customers that they currently have through current phone discounts. Sources from Jiji Press indicate that the plan was being addressed at a panel of experts earlier this week, with the intent of "drastically" reviewing the guidelines.

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Window for AppleCare+ purchases doubles to 60 days

07/01, 12:10pm

Regular AppleCare plan vanishes

Apple is today making major changes to its AppleCare plans for iPhone and iPad buyers. When considering an AppleCare+ plan, shoppers now reportedly have a 60-day window after their iPhone/iPad purchase, instead of the previous 30 days. The one exception to this is in Japan, where the old limit is still in effect.

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First VAIO notebooks ship in Japan following Sony PC business sale

07/01, 5:38am

VAIO Pro, VAIO Fit first notebooks from new VAIO corporation

The first VAIO-branded computers following the sale of Sony's PC business have launched in Japan. The first two devices being sold, the VAIO Pro and the VAIO Fit, appear to be a continuation of earlier devices of the same name, with the design and specifications apparently similar to the original versions launched last year under the control of Sony.

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Apple Maps gains Flyovers of Tokyo, Utah's Zion National Park

06/27, 3:40pm

Feature's coverage still expanding

Apple has extended coverage of Maps' Flyover feature to two more locations. The most important of these is the Japanese capital of Tokyo, where people can now see 3D views of scenery like the Tokyo Tower or the Imperial Palace. In the United States, Maps users can toggle Flyover for the canyons of Utah's Zion National Park.

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Apple announces slate of 2014 summer Apple Camps

06/17, 9:18am

Includes separate iMovie, iBooks workshops

Apple has opened registration for the 2014 edition of its annual Apple Camps. The program is aimed at teaching creative projects to kids aged 8 to 12 while simultaneously promoting Apple products. This year, two sets of three-day workshops are available: one is dedicated to creating a short film using iMovie and the iPad version of GarageBand, while the other involves producing an interactive book using iBooks Author and illustrations done on an iPad.

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Omotesando Apple Store opens with SVP of Retail Ahrendts in attendance

06/12, 11:05pm

Latest Tokyo store draws unusual large crowd, features metal-and-glass spiral staircase

Tokyo, Japan's latest Apple Store opened on Friday (local time) in much the same way most other Apple Stores debut -- free commemorative T-shirts, a large lineup of eager buyers waiting to get in (a rarer sight in Japan than in North America), extensive press coverage. The store in Omotesando, however, was a little different: the T-shirts featured a new, leafy Apple logo that may or may not be used again, and Apple's new Senior Vice President of Retail, Dame Angela Ahrendts, was among the attendees.

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Apple posts video promoting new Tokyo Apple Store design

06/12, 2:30am

Brushed aluminum staircase, 'green curtain' of foliage among highlights

A new video posted to its official YouTube channel has given interested viewers a sneak peak at one of the company's latest stores, ahead of its opening in Omotesando, a suburb of Tokyo, Japan. The store, which shares the latest Apple layout "design language" with other recent stores such as the Stanford 2 in California, is roughly twice as tall as the Stanford store, using giant glass panes to hold a thin aluminum roof, and also offers a second floor which until now has been under wraps.

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Docomo Portable SIM prototype replaces SIM used in mobile devices

06/10, 12:03pm

Portable SIM provides connection, acts as authentication

Japanese carrier Docomo is looking to separate SIM cards from smartphones and tablets in the future, by placing them inside wearable devices. A prototype Portable SIM device created by the carrier allows mobile devices to use its connection, which could potentially be used as a form of authentication for multiple devices, as well as providing a level of proximity-based security.

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Omotesando Japan Apple Store to open on June 13

06/09, 9:49pm

Will feature a 'green curtain' of vines to help cool store

In preparation for its June 13 grand opening, the newest Apple Store in Japan -- and the first since 2006 -- has taken the wraps off its frontage, revealing all-glass walls on three sides of the building, an all-glass staircase leading below ground, and the general design language first seen in the "Stanford 2" Apple Store in California. The back side of the building, made of concrete, has been used to grow a "green curtain" of vines that will help naturally cool the building, as that wall get most of the direct sunlight exposure during the day.

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Softbank robot Pepper capable of gesture recognition, emotion reading

06/05, 2:01pm

Pepper will go on sale in Japanese Softbank stores from February

Softbank, is planning to put a humanoid robot on sale from next year. Jointly developed with NAO creators Aldebaran Robotics, Pepper is said to be able to interact with others, with its various sensors and voice recognition allowing it to recognize gestures and speech, while analyzing vocal tone and reading expressions also allows it to recognize emotions.

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Sony ceasing shipments of PlayStation Portable to Japan this month

06/03, 1:07pm

Shipping ending in Japan following US in January, European PSP sales continue

Sony is retiring the PlayStation Portable (PSP) in Japan after nine and a half years of sale in the country, effectively signaling the oncoming end of the console's life. Shipments of the handheld game console will cease in Japan later this month, with the company instead continuing to push for sales of its successor, the PlayStation Vita.

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Japanese Apple Store to use vines for heat control in experiment

05/30, 12:14am

'Green curtain' will take up one side of latest retail store, save energy

Apple's latest Japanese Apple Store, the Omotesando location in Tokyo, may feature a "green curtain" of vines covering one side of the building in an effort to reduce cooling costs. The foliage will cover a majority of an all-glass wall, and block sunlight from heating the interior of the building -- which will reduce the cost and need for air conditioning to keep the space cool, according to Mac Otakara.

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iPad gets education discounts; NTT DoCoMo version on June 10th

05/28, 9:25am

Discounts knock just $20-30 off prices

Apple has extended discounts to the iPad at its educational store. The cuts are relatively modest, in the US only knocking $20 off of the cost of the Mini, Retina Mini, and fourth-generation iPad, plus $30 off of the iPad Air. That puts 16GB Wi-Fi models of the tablets at $279, $379/$379 and $469, respectively.

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Briefly: Hyrule Warriors Japan release, Oculus Rift in Second Life

05/26, 4:48pm

Japan release date set as August 14 for Dynasty Warrior style game

A release date for Tecmo Koei's Hyrule Warriors has been published, according to Siliconera. The Wii U game takes characters from classic Nintendo series The Legend of Zelda and puts them in combat series that mimics the Dynasty Warriors franchise. Information regarding the story and characters were released in a magazine, on top of the August 14 release date for Japan.

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Japanese court rules Samsung abused FRAND against Apple

05/18, 8:07pm

Demand for sales ban and high royalties over SEPs deemed illegal

Samsung, which has often used Standards-Essential Patents (SEPs) or patents purchased from other companies in an effort to mount some kind of countersuit in cases where Apple has accused the Galaxy maker of stealing Apple's technology, was found guilty again in a Japanese appeals court of illegally using SEPs as legal weapons and not honoring its obligation under Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) guidelines.

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Nintendo launching Android app in Japan for 3DS tethering

05/14, 10:18pm

Gaming company's first app available on select phones, limited to single carrier

Nintendo has announced that it is releasing a 3DS tethering application for Android tomorrow in Japan. The app surfaces as one of the first expansions by the gaming company after posting lower than expected numbers in its most recent financial report. While the free app isn't one that many users wanted to see, it gives credence to the idea that Nintendo is trying to look to other avenues to help rebuild its brand.

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Report: iPhones now the leading brand in Japan

05/14, 1:22am

Follows deal with top carrier NTT DoCoMo in September

Less than nine months after finally signing the country's largest carrier, Apple is now selling one out of every three smartphones in Japan, according to shipment data from Japan-based MM Research Institute. Thanks to the deal with NTT DoCoMo, Apple now has more than 36 percent of the entire Japanese cellphone market, and is the only country in which Apple handily outsells the combined cellphone output of its rival Samsung.

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Japanese authorities arrest man for ownership of 3D printed firearms

05/08, 9:20pm

Strict gun laws in Japan lead to first 3D printed firearm arrest after video postings

A 27-year-old man was arrested in Japan, stemming from ownership of five firearms he created with a 3D printer, two of which were said to be functional and lethal, according to broadcaster NHK. Yoshitomo Imura, an employee of the Shonan Institute of Technology in Fujisawa in Kawasaki Prefecture, was arrested on illegal weapons possession after posting videos online showing him operating the firearms.

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Sony reveals Xperia ZL2 as five-inch Xperia Z2 with same specification

05/08, 2:44pm

Smaller display, body in ZL2, keeps processor, RAM, rear camera

Sony has launched the follow-up to its Xperia ZL in Japan. Where the original effectively copied the Xperia Z and slimmed the device down, the Xperia ZL2 performs a similar trick with the Xperia Z2, switching out the 5.2-inch 1080p display for a 5-inch version in a smaller body, but still manages to keep similar specifications to its full-size counterpart.

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LG display announcement, KDDI Isai FL launch hint at LG G3 details

05/08, 8:31am

LG 5.5-inch panel certified as QHD, likely to appear in LG G3

LG has confirmed it is producing a 5.5-inch QHD AH-PS LCD panel for smartphones, and will be using it on its forthcoming flagship device, thought to be the LG G3. At the same time, LG has launched the Isai FL through Japanese carrier KDDI, a smartphone that not only uses the panel, but is also thought to be heavily based on the LG G3's specifications.

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Smartphone-related injuries up in Japan, says fire department report

05/04, 6:30pm

Injuries increase 50 percent in 2013 from 2010, 122 incidents over four years

Yahoo Japan reports that the number of smartphone-related injuries while riding a bike or walking has increased, according to the Tokyo Fire Department. In the Tokyo metropolitan area, 36 people were injured in 2013 from smartphone-related accidents, an increase of 50 percent over the 23 reported cases in 2010.

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Apple Q2 numbers show lower iPad revenue, growth in China and Japan

04/23, 5:30pm

Retail revenues virtually flat

As a part of announcing its second-quarter results, Apple has also posted a detailed breakdown (PDF), exposing further facts. They reveal, for instance, that Apple's iPad revenues dropped 16.4 percent year-over-year, shifting from roughly $8.7 billion to $7.6 billion. The company has typically seen continuous growth for the iPad, but units fell from just under 19.5 million to 16.3 million. Cook later clarified that inventory changes made the drop seem much more dramatic than it actually was in terms of end-user sales.

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Polaroid launches PolaSma smartphone for teenagers in Japan

04/03, 7:24am

Bright-colored Polaroid smartphone has 5-inch display, 8-megapixel camera

Polaroid is expanding its range of devices from digital cameras and tablets, to include smartphones for the first time in Japan. The teenager-focused PolaSma, short for "Polaroid Smartphone," has been revealed sporting a 5-inch 960x540-resolution IPS display and what could be described as entry-level specifications inside a bright Cherry Pink, Blueberry Blue, or Lemon Yellow casing.

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Apple in talks to buy part of Renesas Electronics, report claims

04/01, 2:52pm

Could improve image quality, battery life on future devices

Apple is in negotiations with Japan's Renesas Electronics to acquire a unit of the company, says Nikkei. In particular Apple is said to be after Renesas SP Drivers, a joint venture with Sharp and Powerchip that designs chips for smartphone displays. The takeover deal would involve buying up Renesas' 55 percent stake at an estimated price of 50 billion yen, or roughly $479 million.

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Apple didn't infringe on Samsung patents, Tokyo court rules

03/25, 10:22am

Samsung mulls appeal

Apple didn't infringe on Samsung data communications patents and won't have to pay any damages, a Tokyo District Court has ruled. Samsung had filed a lawsuit that brought Apple's iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPad 2 into the crosshairs. "We are disappointed by the court's decision," an emailed statement from Samsung reads. "Upon a thorough review of the ruling, we will determine which measures to take, including an appeal."

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Briefly: Combo headset and fitness band, Bing adds Timeline to searche

02/24, 2:11am

Huawei announces TalkBand B1, unlikely to be released in US

Huawei has announced its upcoming wearable tech device, the TalkBand B1. Described as both a fitness band and Bluetooth headset combined, the band has a removable earpiece that accepts calls, and when used in the band tracks physical activities including sleep. Its 90mAh battery can last up to six days powering the flexible OLED display. The TalkBand B1 is not anticipating release in the US, though will be available in Chinese markets next month, and Japan, the Middle East, Russia and Western Europe in the second quarter of 2014.

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Briefly: Sony PS4 hits Japan, HTC One KitKat update on AT&T, T-Mobile

02/22, 2:16pm

Sony starts selling PlayStation 4 in Japan months after US, European launches

Sony has launched the PlayStation 4 game console in Japan, months after shipping it to customers in the United States and Europe. While it has already sold 5.3 million units in other markets when competing against the Xbox One, the launch in Japan will be largely uncontested, with The Verge noting no news of an Xbox One launch in the country has been issued by Microsoft, and the Nintendo's Wii-U continues to sell poorly.

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Two-step Apple ID verification reaches several new countries

02/20, 12:25pm

Supporting regions still under a dozen

Apple has brought its two-step verification process to several more countries, the company's support pages show. Until today, only the US, UK, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand were supported. Now however the list also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain.

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Screen manufacturer Japan Display planning $4 billion IPO

02/15, 1:50pm

Company is responsible for screens in current iPhones

Japan Display, the company currently responsible for manufacturing some of the screens for Apple's iPhone 5c and 5s, are readying an IPO offering to raise $4 billion in capital to expand production capacity and aid in development of future technologies. The company, formed of the display units from Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba and Japanese government backing, currently holds a 17 percent share of small and medium-sized displays in the world market.

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First line-up for iPhone 6 begins in Japan

02/15, 1:00pm

Performance artist begins queuing before release announcement

A Japanese blogger decided to line up for the iPhone 6, after being spurned of his chance to be the first person in line for an iPhone 5. Apple fan and performance artist Yoppy donned his iPhone cosplay, and started queuing for the new phone outside of the flagship Apple store in Tokyo, Japan, likely to wait for months before an official announcement will be made about its release by the company.

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Smell notifications now available worldwide with Scentee

02/01, 4:00pm

Direct sales allows Scentee to expand outside of Japan

Consumers worldwide that have been waiting for smell notifications from their iPhone and iPad need wait no longer. Scentee, the gadget that emits aromas, began offering direct sales from their website for English versions of the scent puffing attachment outside of Japan for the first time.

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Apple Q1 breakdown shows decline in Americas, jump in China

01/27, 5:22pm

iPod numbers half those shipped last year

In addition to its public announcement, Apple has also published a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its first-quarter results. Significantly, revenue from the Americas actually declined one percent year-over-year to $20.098 billion. This was compensated for by growth in other regions; Europe and Japan were up five and 11 percent (respectively), while "greater" China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) leapt ahead 29 percent to $8.844 billion. The growth was likely spurred by sales of new iPhones and iPads, since mainland China was made a first-tier launch country for the first time in 2013.

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NTT DoCoMo postpones Tizen smartphone launch over low market growth

01/17, 7:59am

Japanese carrier claims market cannot support third mobile operating system

The first consumer Tizen device release has been stalled by Japan's largest carrier over concerns that the Japanese smartphone market cannot sustain a third mobile operating system. Plans by NTT DoCoMo to launch a device in March will now not take place, with the carrier citing a significant lack of overall growth of the market in Japan.

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