NEC and the sorrow of Japan
Yahoo! News -- Jul 18

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.

News source: Yahoo! News

Apr 20 Google puts Kyoto Stn. internal info online
Internal information regarding JR Kyoto Station was made publicly accessible online when the station floor plans, revealing the locations of inactive gas fire extinguishing equipment, were posted on the Google Groups bulletin board service, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. (The Japan News )
Apr 20 Japan sets up military post on western island
Japan began its first military expansion at the western end of its island chain in more than 40 years on Saturday, breaking ground on a radar station on a tropical island off Taiwan. (Japan Today )
Apr 19 16,000 police mobilized to protect Obama
The National Police Agency will mobilize 16,000 police officers to ensure tight security during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Japan from April 23 to April 25. (Japan Today )
Apr 19 Radiation exposure estimate for returnees released
The Japanese government on Friday issued estimates of how much radiation residents would be exposed if they return to their homes near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (NHK )
Apr 19 Japan to continue whaling in Pacific
Japan will go ahead with research whaling in the northwestern Pacific for fiscal 2014, but by reducing catches following an International Court of Justice ruling that ordered the country to stop whaling in the Antarctic Ocean, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said Friday. (The Japan News )
Apr 20 Serial burglar suspected of over 100 thefts
Police in Tokyo have arrested a 41-year-old construction worker on suspicion of stealing over 10 million yen in cash and precious jewels. (Japan Today )
Apr 19 Japan opens Imperial Palace to public
Japan opened the Imperial Palace to the public on Saturday, starting a string of special palace openings to celebrate the longevity of Emperor Akihito who turned 80 last December. (Jiji Press )
Apr 19 Murakami's new book hits shelves amid fan frenzy; more ordered
Haruki Murakami's first collection of short stories in nine years hit store shelves in Japan on Friday with excited fans lining up for the midnight launch. (Japan Times )
Apr 19 Japan virtual star Hatsune Miku to join Lady Gaga tour
Hatsune Miku, a computer-generated Japanese pop star who performs as a hologram, is to support some of Lady Gaga's tour of North America next month, the U.S. songstress has announced on Twitter. (Japan Today )
Apr 18 Police officer arrested for sexually assaulting woman on train
A police officer has been arrested for assaulting a woman on a train car in Tokyo. Police identified the suspect as Akira Inada, 53, who works at the Ushigome Station. (Japan Today )
Apr 18 Homemaker joins Japan girl band AKB48
Japanese commercial music juggernaut AKB48 has added a 37-year-old mother of two to the wildly popular all-girl group as it looks to broaden the appeal of its teen-dominated line-up. (AFP )
Apr 18 Car being chased by police plunges into sea, killing driver
A man was killed after the car he was driving plunged into the sea while he was being chased by a police car in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on Thursday morning. (Japan Today )
Apr 18 Imperial couple hosts spring garden party
Japan's Emperor and Empress have hosted more than 2,000 guests at their Spring Imperial Garden Party. (NHK )
Apr 18 Man jumps to death from 8th floor of Foreign Ministry building
An employee of the Foreign Ministry jumped to his death from the 8th floor at the ministry, police said Thursday. (Japan Today )
Apr 17 Man in his 30s being questioned over murder of 7-year-old girl in 2005
Tochigi prefectural police said Thursday that they are questioning a man in his 30s over the murder of a 7-year-old girl in December 2005. Japanese media quoted police as saying that the man, who was arrested for dealing in fake brand-name goods, has hinted at his involvement in the murder. (Japan Today )