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.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British counterpart David Cameron agreed Thursday in London on the need to promote increased government spending and other economic measures to bolster the flagging global economy, while vowing to work together in fighting terrorism. (Kyodo)
Manifesting an unstoppable decline in births, the number of children aged 14 or under in Japan fell for the 35th straight year to a record-low 16.05 million as of April 1, government estimates showed Wednesday. (Japan Today)
Hokkaido Prefectural Police are questioning a man and his sister after the discovery of a body, believed to be that of their younger sister, inside the residence they all share in Sapporo, reports the Sankei Shimbun (May 5). (Tokyo Reporter)
East Japan Railway Co. said Thursday it has resolved a computer malfunction that caused all electronic signboards for shinkansen bullet trains to shut down the previous day, causing confusion for travelers during the Golden Week holiday period. (Japan Times)
The popular black bear character Kumamon resumed activities as the official mascot of Kumamoto on Thursday, three weeks after the southwestern Japanese prefecture was devastated by the first of two major earthquakes. (Japan Today)
A man was found dead after being run over by a car on a road in Mooka, Tochigi Prefecture, but police said Tuesday that he may have already been dead after being hit by another car earlier. (Japan Today)
The Osaka District Public Prosecutor's Office has filed charges of drug trafficking against a 40-year-old woman who left a large quantity of illegal drugs inside a fast-food outlet, reports the Asahi Shimbun (April 30). (Tokyo Reporter)