ILE Equipment bags are made in America but big in Japan

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"Inspiration comes in weird places," says Eric Fischer, owner of ILE Equipment. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

BERKELEY, Calif. — ILE is big in Japan. The California bag company has found a market with the Japanese bike website Blue Lug, and the collaboration keeps pushing ILE into new bags, materials, hardware and color choices.

Eric Fischer, 26, launched ILE (short for “Inside Line Equipment”) out of his apartment four short years ago. He was racing bikes, buying fabric and making bags one at a time for himself, his friends and friends of friends.

“I always liked making things, but building buildings didn’t seem scalable,” Fischer told Cult of Mac. “Making bags seemed more like a painting rather than building a house.”

Apple Watch gets booth in trendy Tokyo department store, more planned

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We know which part of the store we're, err, Watching. Photo: Macotakara

Considering that the Apple Watch goes on sale in a little over one month, Apple has still provided relatively few details about how exactly it’s going to be selling its upscale wearable devices.

Some images posted by Japanese Apple blog Macotakara offer a few hints, however. The photos show an Apple Watch booth or mini-store at the upmarket Isetan department store in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The sign reads “WATCH: Coming Soon.”

Old flip-phones are the iPhone’s newest rival in Japan

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Are flip-phones making a comeback? Photo: Oscar Avellaneda-Cruz/Flickr CC

The iPhone has been killing it in Japan lately. Apple’s smartphone marketshare in the tech-obsessed country is continuing to dominate year-over-year, even though the company had a hard time giving out iPhones just five years ago.

With the iPhone 6’s bigger screen, the company is making more of an inroads than ever, but according to a report from Reuters, smartphones in Japan are facing stiff from competition from an unlikely suspect: flip-phones.

Samsung could be about to give up on Japan as iPhone sales soar

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Things aren’t looking too rosy for Samsung at the moment. Having seen profits slip due to its falling mobile sales, the flailing South Korean tech giant is reportedly considering throwing in the towel altogether in Japan, where it’s struggling more than elsewhere.

Samsung currently represents a miniscule 4 percent of the Japanese smartphone market, which puts it in sixth place. According to sources with Samsung, staying in Japan is actually losing rather than gaining the company money.

While Samsung hasn’t traditionally been a top-seller in Japan, here in 2015 it’s doing worse than ever: with the company’s favorite metric, marketshare, shrinking from 17 percent two years ago to low single digits today.