BlackBerry sees red in Japan, ends sales

[UPDATE] Unable to justify the cost of adapting its BlackBerry 10 operating system to the Japanese language and experiencing market share loss, Canadian phonemaker will stop direct sales in Japan.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

BlackBerry is stopping direct sales of its smartphones in Japan and will not bring its latest handsets, the Z10 and Q10, to the market in the near future as it cannot justify the cost of modifying its software to meet local consumers' needs and its market share continues to dwindle.

Citing Nikkei, Reuters reported Thursday the Canadian phonemaker will end its sales activities in Japan, partly because it cannot justify the cost of adapting its latest BlackBerry 10 operating system (OS) to include the Japanese language. 

BlackBerry's Z10 device will not be seen in Japan any time soon.

The dip in market share will also have played a part in the company's decision, after seeing it shrink from 5 percent to the current 0.3 percent, the report noted.

BlackBerry will continue to offer support to existing users though, it added.

In a separate report by tech news site Engadget Thursday, BlackBerry confirmed it has no plans to launch its latest devices in Japan at this time.

In a statement, BlackBerry said: "We are in the process of launching BlackBerry 10 globally in key markets and we are seeing positive demand for the BlackBerry Z10 in countries where it has already launched. Japan is not a major market for BlackBerry and we have no plans to launch BlackBerry 10 devices there at this time. However, we will continue to support BlackBerry customers in Japan."

The company had issued a statement Wednesday upon launching its Z10 smartphone, saying it was the "best day ever" for a first-day launch of a new BlackBerry device in Canada.

Thorstein Heins, CEO of BlackBerry, said: "In fact, it was more than 50 percent better than any other launch day in our history in Canada. In the U.K., we have seen close to three times our best performance ever for the first week of sales for a BlackBerry smartphone."

Update (12.17 a.m): BlackBerry's Asia-Pacific director of corporate communications Matt Stewart e-mailed ZDNet to clarify the situation, saying while it does not have plans to sell BlackBerry 10 devices in Japan at the current time, it will continue to support its carrier partner NTT Docomo to sell its devices.

Stewart said in a statement: "BlackBerry enjoys a constructive relationship with trusted partner, NTT Docomo, and we will continue to support the carrier's ongoing BlackBerry sales in Japan. We have not announced plans to launch BlackBerry 10 in Japan, but this does not affect our key priorities in the market: to continue to provide BlackBerry service and robust support to BlackBerry's Japanese customers, both consumers and business users."

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