Japan mulls antitrust investigation into Apple and Google

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App Store faces barrage of antitrust charges
Japan is weighing up a possible antitrust investigation regarding mobile OS dominance.
Photo: Sora Shimazaki/Pexels CC

Japan is the latest country to turn its antitrust attention on Apple. The Japan Times reports that the Japanese government is set to investigate both Apple and Google over their dominance in mobile operating systems.

The report, which cites a Nikkei article, is short on details. It notes that nine out of 10 phones sold in Japan run either Android or iOS. But it does not explain where the problematic aspect of this is. Typically, antitrust involves situations in which a market leader, or collusion between market leaders, results in a monopoly of a particular market. Breaking up these monopolies is intended to give customers more choice.

iPhone 12 is a monster hit in Japan

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purple iphone 12
5G has been a killer feature in Japan.
Photo: Apple

The iPhone 12 series has led a massive boom in smartphone shipments, particularly 5G models, in Japan.

According to a new report, Japan was the recipient of a 17% boost in smartphone shipments over the past 12 months. There was also a massive 40-fold increase in 5G handset shipments. Of the 5G smartphones, the iPhone 12 series made up almost half.

Half of smartphones bought in Japan in 2020 were iPhones

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iPhone 12 Pro Shiny sides
The iPhone 12 was a big hit in Japan, too.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Apple carved out a massive 52.6% of the smartphone market in Japan in the last quarter of 2020. That’s according to the latest figures released by International Data Corporation (IDC), highlighting just how far ahead of the competition Apple is.

In the fourth quarter of the year, Apple reportedly shipped more than 6 million units to Japan, increasing 13.8% year-over-year. The next closest rival, Sharp, shipped only 1.4 million phones for a 12.4% share. Samsung, Apple’s biggest competitor worldwide, managed only 781,000 units for 6.8% of the market.

Today in Apple history: Fans queue up as Apple opens Tokyo store, its first outside US

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Apple's store in Tokyo's swanky Ginza shopping district.
Apple's first non-U.S. Apple Store was located in Tokyo, Japan.
Photo: Héctor García/Kirai CC

November 30: Today in Apple history: Apple opens first store outside U.S. in Tokyo's trendy Ginza shopping district November 30, 2003: Apple expands its retail chain outside the United States, opening its 73rd Apple Store in Tokyo’s trendy Ginza shopping district.

On opening day, thousands of Apple fans — possibly the biggest queue in Apple history — line up around the block in the rain to gain early access to the store, which offers five full floors of Apple product goodness.

Steve Jobs does not show up for the opening. However, shoppers hear a welcoming speech from Eiko Harada, president of Apple Japan.

Today in Apple history: Apple denies Steve Jobs’ love of ninja stars

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Ninja star
Jobs apparently tried to take one of these on his private jet.
Photo: SecretNinjaNews

September 14: Today in Apple history: Apple denies Steve Jobs' love of ninja stars September 14, 2010: Security workers reportedly stop Steve Jobs at Japan’s Kansai International Airport. The reason? The Apple CEO supposedly tried to bring ninja throwing stars onto his private plane while heading home from vacation.

It’s one of the most bizarre Jobs stories ever. Apple, however, quickly spoils the internet’s fun. Cupertino issues a statement describing the reports as “pure fiction” (although Apple acknowledges that Jobs visited Japan over the summer).

Apple Maps expands Look Around coverage to a country outside U.S. for the first time

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Look Around
At a time when travel is difficult, this may legitimately be your best way to look around Japan.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple Maps’ Look Around feature, the company’s answer to Google Street View, has expanded to its first international market. Look Around is now available for four of Japan’s biggest cities — including Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Osaka.

Apple now offers AppleCare+ monthly plans in Canada, Australia, and Japan

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2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and AppleCare
AppleCare+ gives you month-by-month rolling protection for your Apple device.
Photo: Apple

Apple is expanding its AppleCare+ monthly plan outside the United States for the first time. It is making it available in Canada, Japan, and Australia as well.

The month-by-month coverage hasn’t launched yet in these countries. However, Apple has revealed that it is coming to these markets in one of its official support documents.

Japan will start reopening its shuttered Apple Stores this week

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Apple new store in Japan
Apple's most recent store opened in Tokyo in September.
Photo: Apple

Apple will start reopening Apple Stores in Japan this week, following on from reopening in Australia, Germany, Austria, South Korea, Switzerland, and select stores in the United States and Italy.

Like all other non-China markets, Apple’s Japan retail stores have been closed since the middle of March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple woos new generation of storytellers with anime ad for Japan

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anime
"Hey Siri, WTF are they saying?"
Photo: Apple

Apple created a special new ad for customers in Japan that highlights the different ways the Mac has been showcased on some of the most popular anime shows in the country.

Cut together with scenes from shows like Mr. Osomatsu, NEW GAME!!, your name., Weathering with You and more, the brilliant ad encourages anime fans to embrace their creativity and create a new generation of anime stories.

You’ve never seen an Apple ad like this:

Health officials distribute iPhones to cruise ship hit with coronavirus

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iPhones for quarantined cruise passengers
Stranded passengers can get news and medical consultations with government-issued iPhones.
Photo: Jun Masuda/Twitter

Japanese health officials passed out some 2,000 iPhones to quarantined passengers stuck on board a cruise ship with an outbreak of coronavirus.

The iPhones will allow stranded passengers to consult with doctors, order medications and work through anxiety with mental health professionals.