BBC adds five free HD channels to high-definition lineup
The BBC will be adding five new channels to its lineup in the United Kingdom tomorrow for Freesat, Freeview, Sky, and Virgin Media users. The broadcaster will be adding HD versions of BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News, CBBC, and CBeebies to its existing high-definition channel lineup, with the BBC advising that this brings the total subscription-free HD channel range from the corporation to seven. Earlier this year, the BBC revealed it would be shutting down its dedicated 3D channel, due to a lack of viewers.
Apps were previously English-only
Google has updated its Android and iOS Search apps with voice support for French, German, and Japanese. The upgrades let people both speak commands and hear responses in the new languages. Previously, non-English speakers had to type in any search requests.
Demographic skews older, and with more buyers under median income
"Almost half" of the people who bought the iPhone 5c in September and October were people switching from Android phones, particularly ones by Samsung and LG, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. By comparison, some 80 percent of iPhone 5s purchases were by people upgrading from a previous iPhone. Kantar also notes that over 40 percent of 5c buyers were earning less than $49,000 per year, versus roughly 20 percent for the 5s. 5c buyers also tended to skew older, with an average age of 38 instead of the 5s' 34.
Amazon brings video streaming service to Japan
Amazon has now opened up the Japanese version of its Instant Video streaming service, it was revealed today. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new service features more than 26,000 imported movie and television offerings. Rentals for the service start at 100 yen (about $0.98).
New iPhones, NTT DoCoMo contributing factors
The iPhone accounted for 76 percent of Japanese smartphone sales during the month of October, according to Kantar World Panel data. Specific reasons for Apple's dominance are unmentioned, but are likely attributable to two factors. The first is the launch of the iPhone 5s and 5c on September 20th, since model refreshes always cause a surge in Apple sales. The other, though, is the addition of NTT DoCoMo as a carrier.
Samsung's market share continues to decline in Japan
Samsung may sell the most smartphones in the world overall, but the South Korean tech giant is struggling in Japan even as its chief rival, Apple, achieves greater heights. Sunday brought word from The Korea Herald that Samsung's share in the Japanese smartphone market dropped again last quarter, making for four straight quarterly declines. Last quarter, Samsung moved just one million units in Japan, only about one-fourth the total that Apple sold.
BCN rankings put Apple on top of Japanese smarpthone sales
Apple's newest iPhones aren't just popular in Japan, they account for each of the top 10 selling smartphone slots in that country. This according to BCN Rankings, which charts the top selling devices in Japan from week to week. The week ending November 4 marked the first time in history that one smartphone brand had taken all of the spots in BCN's top 10.
iPhone 5c seeing most traction in US, data suggests
The iPhone 5s represents about 3.8 percent of active iPhones worldwide, according to new tracking data from Localytics. The iPhone 5c holds a share of just 1.7 percent; the most popular model at the moment remains the iPhone 5, sitting at 39.8 percent. The 4S is at 32.9 percent, while the three-year-old iPhone 4 is at 20.2.
Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi adopted by Japan Airlines, rolls out mid-2014
Gogo's in-flight Wi-Fi is heading to Japan, with the entire Japan Airlines (JAL) fleet of domestic planes set to offer the service. The move, following Delta Airline's adoption of Gogo on its international fleet, will see all 77 JAL domestic aircraft start offering the Ku-band satellite Internet service to customers beginning in the summer of 2014, writes Engadget.
North America to continue Nintendo Wii sales over holiday season
North America is the last major market to still receive shipments of the Nintendo Wii, after an announcement concerning European availability. Shipments of the game console to retailers in Europe have now ceased, following a similar announcement covering Japan earlier this week, but shipments of the motion-sensitive console to the United States will not be affected in any way.
Quad-core 1.4GHz ARM processor in Tizen tablet for developers
The first tablet running the Linux-based Tizen operating system has launched in Japan, though as a developer focused offering. The Tizen Build Kit from Systena not only offers a development tools and manuals for the operating system, as well as consulting services for development on the platform, but also a 10.1-inch tablet with Tizen 2.1 pre-installed.
Google Chromecast app available internationally, hints at possible global release
Google could be launching its Chromecast dongle internationally in the near future. Apps for the device are now available to download in other countries, according to Android Central, with a number of users noting that it can be gained from Google Play in the UK, Germany, India, Canada, and Panama. Though Amazon has started to ship the media streaming dongle internationally, Google has yet to do the same.
Developers warned about impending changes
Prices at the Japanese App Store are going up as of October 17th, Apple is warning developers in a new email. The adjustment is being made to accommodate fluctuations in the value of the yen. Both Mac and iOS apps will be affected by the hikes, the company says.
Marketing efforts also a factor in Sony's change of priorities
Sony could be relaxing its push to release smartphones in the United States, in order to protect its sales in Japan and Europe. CEO Kaz Hirai advised that, in terms of smartphone sales, Sony's "biggest priority is maintaining our share in Japan or increasing it," as it attempts to fight off the rising popularity of the iPhone in its home country.
Brightly-colored Galaxy J unlikely to see non-Japan release
Samsung has launched another Galaxy-branded smartphone, coming to NTT DoCoMo in the future as part of its new seasonal roster, alongside the Sony Xperia Z1f. The Galaxy J, shown by the Japanese carrier to be available in white, blue, and pink, appears to be a mix of the physical design of the Galaxy S 4 with Galaxy Note 3-inspired internals.
Amount substantially less that originally demanded
The Tokyo District Court has ordered Apple to pay $3 million in damages to a Japanese inventor, Norihiko Saito. Saito first filed a lawsuit against Apple five years ago, alleging that the clickwheel found on the Classic and some older iPods violates a patent of his. He originally called for 10 billion yen in damages, or about $101 million, based on the strength of iPod sales at the time.
Two Android personal media players shipping later this year
Sony is continuing to extend its line of Walkman-branded personal music players with a raft of new models, including two Android devices. The Walkman NW-ZX1 and NW-F880 range, powered by Android 4.1, will be going on sale in Japan later this year, alongside new media players in the S-series and M-series ranges.
Margin even higher in some other countries
The iPhone 5s appears to be outselling the iPhone 5c by a ratio of 3.4 to 1 in the US, according to marketing and analytics firm Localytics. About 1.05 percent of all American iPhones are said to be the 5s, while the 5c represents just 0.31 percent. "This makes sense since those who feel the need to buy a new device the very weekend it launches are most likely the power users who want the highest-end phone experience," writes Localytics marketing VP Bernd Leger.
5G concept promises high speed, high capacity, low latency
Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo is planning to demonstrate what it believes to be the successor to current 4G LTE services. A stand at the CEATEC technology exhibition in Japan will have the carrier showing off its "concept for the next-generation mobile communication system," along with other items such as intelligent glasses and new models of smartphone.
Carriers offering iPhones for 'free' on some plans
Chinese carriers are heavily subsidizing the iPhone 5s and 5c to make them affordable in the country, rate cards show. Off-contract, even a 16GB 5c is 4,488 yuan, or over $730. China Unicom however has eight plans under which a 5c is available for free. At China Telecom, even the 5s is available for "free" under three plans, although these involve extremely long contracts and/or high fees.
Rockstar Games launches GTA V app with map, virtual pet
A companion app for Grand Theft Auto V has launched alongside the game. The free "iFruit" app, currently available for iOS but heading to Android and other phone platforms in the future, allows users to customize vehicles from outside the game, as well as a second app offering a manual and digital map for the game. A virtual pet, in the form of Chop the Dog, will reward players that look after it with in-game bonuses.
Deal may impose major burden on carrier
Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo agreed to make the iPhone 40 percent of its smartphone sales in order to secure a deal with Apple, Nikkei reports. The 5s and 5c will be the carrier's first iPhone models, since it previously refused to sell the device unless it could pre-install integrated service apps. Holding out has cost the company subscribers, many of whom have flocked to iPhone-ready rivals SoftBank and KDDI.
Touch ID sensor brings fingerprint recognition to iPhone
During Apple's omnibus iPhone and iOS 7 announcement today, Apple officially revealed the iPhone 5s. The device boasts Apple's new 64-bit A7 processor, and is constructed of "high-grade aluminum" with chamfered edges, now being offered in three colors: silver, gold, and a new "Space Gray" color. Also added to the phone are a new motion-sensing chip, as well as a greatly improved camera and flash system.
iPhone 5S, 5C should be carrier's first offerings
NTT DoCoMo has signed a deal with Apple to sell the iPhone, according to Yahoo Japan. Although Japan has always been expected to be one of the first countries to get the iPhone 5S and 5C when the devices launch later this month, to date Apple has only had regional iPhone deals with SoftBank and KDDI. Yahoo suggests that the first DoCoMo iPhones will indeed be arriving this fall.
Claim differs from most other reports, forecasts
(Updated with Loop denial) Apple is planning to introduce both new iPads and new iPhones at its event on September 10th, a source tells Bloomberg. Reports have typically indicated that Apple is only planning to introduce new iPhones. The company is in fact expected, for the first time ever, to launch two new lines simultaneously: a high-end iPhone 5S, and a cheaper mid-tier iPhone 5C.
Fits in with recent rumors
Apple will ship the high-end iPhone 5S and the mid-tier iPhone 5C to Japan on September 20, says local business publication Nikkei. The site moreover backs numerous recent reports that the 5S will have a gold color option, although it's still uncertain how it will fit in or replace current slate and silver models. In terms of carrier support, it's believed that SoftBank and KDDI will carry both new phones at launch, once again leaving NTT DoCoMo behind.
New countries to join August 16th
Apple is extending the number of eligible countries in its USB adapter takeback program. The program began in China August 9th, and is coming to the US on August 16th. Now also joining on the 16th will be Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the UK.
Expansion efforts center around Europe
Apple has officially expanded the reach of iTunes in the Cloud movie support to eight more countries. Of these, Japan may be the most prominent, although the other countries are located entirely within Europe. The list includes Austria, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
Carrier wants integrated services pre-installed
Efforts at building a "lifestyle system" are why NTT DoCoMo has yet to pick up the iPhone, CEO Kaoru Kato tells Reuters The carrier normally has apps pre-installed on its phones in order to support integrated services, but Apple has always blocked carriers from making any modifications to iOS. NTT also wants its logo on devices, another thing Apple has refused to allow.
High-resolution 4K monitor includes 10-point multitouch, stylus control
Sharp is introducing a new LCD touchscreen monitor with the ability to show 4K-resolution images, following on from its earlier non-touch version. The PN-K322B Ultra HD monitor has an IGZO display panel measuring 32 inches, and is mounted on an adjustable hinge, allowing its 10-point multitouch to be used, as well as its dedicated touch pen with a tip width of just 2mm (0.08 inches).
Inheritance of fraud from previous company heads caused lower sentences
Former bosses at Olympus have avoided going to prison over the $1.7 billion accounting fraud scandal. Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, a previous chairman at the camera company, and auditing officer Hideo Yamada received three year sentences that are suspended for five years, while executive vice president Hisashi Mori was handed sentence for two and a half years, suspended for three.
May all but confirm name of upcoming smartwatch
(Update: Also applied for in Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey) Apple has applied for an "iWatch" trademark at the Japan Patent Office, according to Bloomberg. The filing was originally made on June 3, but appears to have been made public just last week. The Japanese trademark application follows ones reportedly made in Russia and Jamaica, the latter dating back to December 2012.
Samsung safe from charges of violating media sync patents
Japan's Intellectual Property High Court has upheld the Tokyo District Court's dismissal of an Apple lawsuit against Samsung, according to Bloomberg. In August 2012, the District Court ruled that there was no merit to Apple allegations that Samsung had infringed on patents related to media sync on mobile devices. "It’s hard to believe the products belong to the range of technologies of the claimant," the judge in the case stated at the time. Apple was ordered to cover the costs of the lawsuit, but filed an appeal of the dismissal in October.
Final ruling to be issued later today
A court in Tokyo has ruled that several older Samsung smartphones violate an Apple "rubber-banding" patent, Reuters reports. The patent describes the way an iOS window bounces once a person has reached the end of a scrolling page. Samsung has sidestepped the patent with recent devices, changing its implementation of Android to only show a blue line at the end of a page, but the company could still potentially face damage payments and product injunctions. The court is expected to provide more details when it hands down a final ruling later today.
Company blames 'changes in foreign exchange rates'
Apple has raised prices for all iPad and iPod models in Japan, Bloomberg reports. "We made some pricing adjustments due to changes in foreign exchange rates," says local company spokesman Takashi Takabayashi. The yen has weakened against the US dollar, cutting into Apple's profits on the previous prices. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been attempting to fight the yen's deflation.
Bigger 256GB capacity replaces 64GB version, could appear elsewhere
Microsoft has rolled out its Surface Pro to Japan, as part of its plans to offer the slate computer in more countries, and has included an option for larger storage. A 256GB model will go on sale in the country on June 7th, and marks the first time Microsoft has increased the capacity for the Pro version of its tablets from the original 64GB and 128GB variants.
New 4K-capable televisions include optional DVR with 6-channel recording
Toshiba has revealed it will be launching a new set of 4K-capable televisions in Japan. The Regza Z8X range of UHDTVs, measuring 58, 65, and 84 inches, will include native support for NHK's "Hybridcast," a system the Japanese broadcaster is trialling which adds more information to TV programming through an Internet service.
HDTVs with 4K resolution includes Moth-Eye anti-reflection layer
Sharp is preparing to sell a pair of Ultra HD TVs in Japan, under the Aquos UD1 banner. The LC-60UD1 and LC-70UD1, measuring 60 inches and 70 inches respectively, both take advantage of Sharp's previously-demonstrated "Moth-Eye" technology, which uses a special layer above the LCD panel to significantly reduce glare, internal reflections, and light scattering.
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.