Sadly enough, NEC's share price rose 2.6% on the news that it is going to shutter its mobile phone unit. It's a tragic epitaph for what was once a genuinely exciting brand. It's also a sad reminder of the profound failure of Japan's technology industry.
The global smartphone market is currently shaken by a cluster of vital, hungry challenger vendors of China and India, including Huawei, ZTE, Micromax, Karbonn and Spice. Japanese mobile phone powerhouses like Sharp, Toshiba, Matsushita and NEC have been left in the dust. Only Sony still soldiers on, grimly and joylessly.
In the end, NEC fizzled out as a global phone brand despite having pioneered key technologies like color displays, 3G support, dual screens and camera modules. Just like its Japanese peers, NEC was too focused on Japan's domestic market and its idiosyncratic nature to ever really anticipate global trends accurately.
NEC's miniature models had lousy battery performance and Nokia's larger, heavier models triumphed among consumers who appreciated five days of stand-by time over a slim chassis. Motorola's dazzling RAZR designs trumped NEC's boring Japanese ovoids among consumers who valued slimness. NEC's 3G phones were the first in the world, but they suffered from serious quality issues and were buried by models that arrived nine months later, offering more finesse. The Japanese disease of valuing early introduction of technological advances over usability blighted NEC permanently. The damage as particularly obvious in the early camera phone race, where NEC missed the huge mass market for cheap models by focusing on the expensive, exclusive dual-screen niche.
Through "tears of sadness," Kenji Goto's mother urged people to respect his wishes for peace hours after a video posted online Feb. 1 apparently showed her son being killed by an Islamic State militant. (Asahi)
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. <7011> and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, successfully launched a backup information gathering radar satellite on an H-2A rocket on Sunday. (Jiji Press)
Officials at Japan's Meteorological Agency are warning that a snowstorm could be heading for the eastern coast of Hokkaido as a low pressure system developing off the coast lashes the region with powerful winds. (NHK)
The Aichi Prefectural Police said Friday that the 19-year-old Nagoya University student who has admitted killing a 77-year-old woman last month apparently used her cellphone to take pictures of the victim's corpse. (Japan Times)
Manga giant Katsuhiro Otomo won the Grand Prix Award at the prestigious Angouleme International Comics Festival on Jan. 29, marking the first time that a Japanese creator took the event's top honor. (Asahi)
Police in Saitama Prefecture said Thursday they have arrested 11 people who, as part of an organized scam group, call up individuals claiming that they had missed a payment for using a website that is actually free to use. (Japan Today)
A Nagoya University student who says she killed an elderly woman found dead in the 19-year-old's apartment has also admitted poisoning a former high school classmate, investigative sources said Thursday. (Japan Times)