BlackBerry 10 devices will not make their way to Japan

BlackBerry Line
By Bla1ze on 7 Feb 2013 04:14 pm EST

Earlier today reports coming from the Nikkei were suggesting that BlackBerry had decided to stop selling handsets in Japan in part due to declining sales and costs associated with making the necessary language modifications to the OS. It's not overly surprising this would be the case because if there is no money to be made then there is no reason to cater to that market. To help further clear things up over at Engadget they've received further clarification on the matter, which you can read below:

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.

So there you have it. If you want a BlackBerry 10 device in Japan, you'll have to look toward importing one. But if you're an already existing BlackBerry OS user and in Japan your device will continue to be supported. The sales issues is more at hand here and not the supporting of the Japanese language. BlackBerry 10 supports 33 different languages in total including Japanese.

Via: Reuters

Reader comments

BlackBerry 10 devices will not make their way to Japan


Telcos "confirmed" Z10 will be in China in May, with some modifications for pinyin input, which seems not to work great now. At the moment no any plans for Q10 to be introduced to the Chinese market.

The Bold 9900 never had handwriting input despite its touch screen.
I personally had friends who skipped Bold 9900 because of this reason.

Let's hope that BlackBerry will have handwriting input for Q10, since non-English users need handwriting input on a touch screen smartphone!

BlackBerry has only 0.3% marketshare there - I would go the same as they do and focus on key-markets first.

Would be stupid to serve antarctica before luxemburg just because someone asked for it - it always depends on research and the situation ;)

BlackBerry is doing it the right way - trust them.

Who wants to have a z10 will get it - no matter where they are located

LOL! I wonder what the marketshare for iOS and Android devices are in Antarctica. And also, what is the best-selling mobile device there?

just randomly - I think people overvalue this statement. . .

If BB has 0.3% right now - maybe they can get it up to 1%

but at what cost?

The main thing with new products is to go to markets where you have a high demand and push it even further.


going from 13% to 15% or even if it is only 5% up to 7% if it is a market of 100 million - awesome

the antartica comes in because it might go up from 10% to 20% but assume that there are only 100 people - the numbers in total would be 10 devices. . . compared to 2mio devices in my first example

Anyways I would skip markets where they don't have a great reputation for now and see how the demand is as soon as all keymarkets got served

9 out of 10 Japs use Samsung so BlackBerry knows better than wasting their effort in that non exsistant market
I’d rather be a Black Sheep than an iSheep any day.

9 out of 10 "Japs" think your comment is FALSE. Samsung is a Korean company. It isn't as popular in Japan as domestic Japanese handphones like Kyocera and other domestic brands.

Don't think so.... Japs hate Koreans. They despise Korean products; cars, phones football team, whatever! Same as Koreans. Deep hatred among them.

Samsung is Korean, I think they do better just about anywhere else than Japan. Samsung has huge market share globally but only a tiny one in Japan. It's hard to do business there since they're so selective with what they import. I'm pretty sure they have a trade surplus with just about every country they do business with.

As far as I know all *nix-based (POSIX-compliant) operating systems support i8n (internationalization) through a ready-built language database. Does BlackBerry OS 10 and QNX not support i8n?

Interesting. The decision is probably based on something completely different than language then.

I'm afraid the japanese nuke their purchased BB10... And throw their radioactive odds into the sea... Again and again... And later we get sushi in europe and USA with radiant BlackBerry-inwards... What would be the selling-name of the Z10 in Japan? Fu*k-o-machina? :-D

Okay, I find this interesting, let's expand our thoughts and play with this for a moment. BB is entertaining patnerships and potential licensing of their OS, what if they have something in the works with an Japanese or asian based company that wants this market to itself as part of the deal?

Possible or not, Thoughts?

that defiitely could be the case but I definitely don't see it at least for another year or two. All hardware specifically smartphones will be blackberry made unless of course they sell badly (but from all accounts from the UK, BlackBerry's smartphones are selling out!)

I think it'll be a mis-step if they plan on abandoning the market but I don't see that happening. Of course key markets will be tailored to first, areas where growth will be strongest or in the case of North America, taking back loss growth.

I'd love to see Blackberry partner with Sony if it is indeed hard to break into. Sony have a great eco-system that could easily appeal to a broad user group. Would sony be interested... maybe but for now they do seem heavily invested in the android system though it's not the winner they'd like to see it be.

I definitely see new agreements using QNX/BB10 in other areas in the next year or two and seeing new relationship in other industries.

Well, let's see... BlackBerry could have said there were no plans to launch BB10 devices at this time. Instead they said "WE have no plans to launch BlackBerry 10 devices there at this time." So I guess that could mean someone else (i.e. a strategic partner) may have plans to launch BB10 in Japan. But who could that strategic partner be? Hmmm.

Wouldn't it be crazy if around the same time as this press release regarding Japan there was another press release announcing a new addition to BlackBerry's board of directors who happened to be the former chairman of a very large and well known Japanese electronic company's mobile division? If such a coincidence were to occur then, why yes! I would say it is very possible BlackBerry is considering a licensing deal with a trusted, respected and established Japanese brand as a means of breaking into the that market.

I would go so far as to say that a partnership with a Japanese company is the smartest way for BlackBerry to go after the Japanese market, particularly if that partner could help them access a big catalogue of music and movie content as well as help get BB10 onto other consumer electronic devices that are outside of BlackBerry's core expertise; devices like TVs, computers, laptops, gaming consoles, cameras (who knows, maybe even some medical-related cameras)...

This is exactly what I was afraid BlackBerry would do.
And I guess "we will continue to support BlackBerry customers in Japan" means OS6 and OS7.
This means no Japanese support will ever come to OS10.
Got PB on Day 1 and still waiting for Japanese support but with no avail.

It is fine that since the market is so small in Japan, they are not going to open up there.
However, there are Japanese people around the world who use BB for work and pleasure.
Japanese people in the U.S., Canada, and Europe are not getting the love at all.
I work for a Japanese company in the U.S.
This means I cannot implement BB solution for our BYOD scenario.
That is just too bad.

Again, marketing is one thing.
Not support the language?
I believe that's a no no.
Windows, Mac, all support 50+ languages and that's been a pretty much standard for almost 20 years?
Why limit support? Why kill the faithful users?

Well, this means my almost 7 years love with BB is coming to the end.
I even timed my contract to expire to get BB10 but hey!
Moving from 9780 to.. I don't know.
Just too bad.

Hmmm.. not really.. BlackBerry 10 supports 33 different languages including Japanese - though as noted below, displaying and inputting are two different things.

Now that the handsets are available, can someone test this? Type some Japanese on the Z10? Or at least point to some doc pages on how this is done?

Actually, Bla1ze was nice to check this for me.
Display Language = Japanese is available
Input Language = Japanese is NOT available

The BlackBerry Z10 uses a virtual keyboard (graphical character set) therefore why is BlackBerry, the company, not able to provide Japanese input on the BlackBerry Z10? I can understand for physical keyboard smartphones when the number of keys is much less than the number of characters in the language, but this is a virtual keyboard. BlackBerry never leaves me a day without needing to shake my head.


Uh... because the Japanese language doesn't use an alphabet... So they'll have to have a virtual keyboard with like 100,000+ keys, one for each word... In order to make Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or many of the Asian languages to work, they need to have a character recognition system where you draw the character on the screen and the phone will recognize it as a known character and record it. Apparently they've done this for Chinese since it's confirmed they will get the device, but they did not feel it will be worth the investment to do this for Japanese.

It's not like English, Spanish, Dutch, German, etc. where you put characters together to make words, so you only need 26 or so keys, Asian languages typically are where every word have their own character or symbol. So there's no way to just make a keyboard with all of the characters needed for the language. You can put common words on there though, but that's it...

Yes, they've already clarified that Japanese language support will be coming to BB10. So, if it can already display in Japanese, the "will be coming" must refer to character input. Which, for Japanese at least, doesn't actually require handwriting recognition -- input could be made from a kana layout or typing romanized syllables.

Sorry, I should been clear, No "Input" language support for Japanese, was my understanding for OS10 at this moment.
PB still does not have that capability either. obviously, displaying is fine. (Bridge works perfectly)

Many BB faithfuls in Japan blame the carrier RIM signed up with, DOCOMO, for killing the phones as soon as they released them; pushing Android for quick profits while their subscriber numbers dwindled. Most shops never had a model available for demoing; at those that did, no one knew anything about them. Asking to see one and being told, 'You'll have to wait while we charge it,' then being handed it and the salesperson admitting they had no idea how to do anything except power it on, spoke volumes about the carrier's attitude.

For the average Japanese user, some of the reasons why it never caught on may have been: resistance to using a QWERTY keyboard for input, when Android and iOS use the 10-key based system that most dumb and feature phones there have used for the past 10-15 years (I admit I find this faster when limited to thumbs for Japanese input); lack of all of the "cool" iPhone and Android apps that are being pushed by the domestic media; a UI that at first glance seems much more complex than Android and iOS, which are touted by carriers as "easy to use."

Japanese love foreign products (iPhone and Galaxy series sell like hotcakes over there), and I think if BB would have done more research and teamed with a different carrier, there may have been the user base present to warrant continued support.

Very unfortunate, as I was looking forward to the new BB10 experience, and the ability to stay away from Apple and Android.

It wasn't much different here in the USA either. They never make too much of a deal when a new Blackberry phone comes out, when you walk in they will spend all of their time showing you how "cool" the Androids and iPhones are... You even try to bring up productivity and they will change the topic to how cool it is to watch movies and play games on a big touchscreen...

Ok, how do I put this without generalising....

When I was in south-east Asia, what I saw were a lot of people with very plastic handsets... the more (seemingly) complicated the better, the bigger the screen, the better.

New technology reigns, but that doesn't necessarily mean better.

BlackBerry could go ahead and throw BB10 into the mix, but at 0.3% market share, I can understand why they are waiting....


what i know is that the BB service in Japan through DOCOMO is nowhere near as full featured as it is in North America or Western Europe.
i was going to say that RIM/BB don't have a good understanding of the Japanese consumer mindset, but by the same token Android based platforms (especially those from Japanese manufacturers .. have you seen the Xperia? phenomenal build quality) have been wildly successful. Again, i believe in this day and age it comes down to consumer pull. Softbank ( was a distant 3rd player) got the franchise on the iPhone and have made major inroads, forcing DOCOMO and KDDI to re-think their staid/conservative device approach.
A few years ago most Japanese consumers still had sleek flip phones; in a very short span of time they have made the leap to all touch. i am not sure but have been told that the most modern device offered by DOCOMO in Japan is a 9000, but don't take my word for it.
If BB10 is successful, and of course it will be... and i agree with comments about RIM spending its marketing dollars in markets where they can bring the greatest top and bottom line impact... BB may make the investment to improve its Japanese market approach.
I would love to see them license it to a company like Sony. Nothing beats Japanese build quality and endurance/reliabiity.

DoCoMo is selling 9900 but like someone said, it is not featuring it in their seasonal lineup. It's all about Android.

If and when Blackberry decides to re-enter the Japanese market, it should remember how DCM screwed them over and go with a smaller and more agile carrier like Softbank.

Next in the exit strategy - S. Korea.

This is a good move for BBRY. Focus on areas where BlackBerrys actually sell, then expand to other markets once the platform is established. No sense putting resources where there won't be a high return on investment. If they said it is coming eventually then 'analysts' will write about 'another delay'. Saying 'no plans' was the right move

If they want BB10 - there is still Amazon. :)
It will make the way to Japan, if there is a will...

My carrier also doesn't offer my current device.
So I ordered it somewhere else. :)

8700 -> 8310 -> 8900 -> 9900 -°

There's a huge gray market in the UK for home market only Japanese cars, maybe the tables will turn with BlackBerrys.

There's a huge gray market in the UK for home market only Japanese cars, maybe the tables will turn with BlackBerrys?

Question this move.

Effectively forces some of BlackBerry's biggest customers (international banks, law firms etc) who are often still 100% BlackBerry due to the security to support other devices....

Opening the gates to their biggest corporate customers.

What I find ironic is that RIM has taken the stance that essentially there's not enough customer base to merit supporting Japan. That sounds a lot like the developers saying essentially that there's not enough of a userbase to merit developing for RIM.

Not that this is a 1:1 comparison, I just think it is ironic and a bit funny.

If Blackberry's carrier partner is not being a true partner, there's nothing BB can do. BB's been in Japan for many number of years but DCM has basically abandoned them. I think it's time to exit, regroup and strategize how to re-enter when the timing is right. Number one thing to do when that time comes is to ditch DCM.

I wonder if it would be possible to write an app that would allow for language input support. For example, maybe a messaging service that could be developed for BB10 that would allow you to send messages or even emails in Japanese. Would that fix part of it?

Yes, there is Chinese pinyin input on Z10, which is considered not to be "perfect". Couple of days ago had a chat with one of the telcos in China - Z10 in May + modifications on the pinyin input.

As I understanding, for the market size of Chinese, Japan and Korea, It might be RIM had decided give up on Japanise and Korean market AT THIS TIME. For me who want the BlackBerry product will survive on Korean market, I'm Korean, BlackBerry please do not give up the far-east asia market. on Technically, I know that the input language method of two-byte character is not easy development. However, BlackBerry will go ahead and support and development and sales BlackBerry product with their language to survive and kepp BlackBerry brand.

Please make the plan of support Korean input language not display language.

What about Thai? Is that going to be scrapped as well?

It would be good to know soon, because the Galaxy S4 is coming next month and I can guarantee many people here will be dumping BB as fast as possible if this is the case.

Don't know how some guys here becomes expert than BlackBerry's Marketing guys... they knew their markets... they knew their risks... and they knew how they will handle them...

And not to mention, BlackBerry's investors are paying them to do their jobs...

opening the door for a license deal in Japan, not sure whether anybody will ever use the opportunity, but no doubt we will find out in due time

Not really surprising. With many manufacturers in Japan (i.e. Panasonic, Sanyo, Sharp, etc.) that come out with new phones every week, BlackBerries wouldn't be able to compete.

However, it is likely that people who work abroad still might use phones in Japan.

I understand business point but still sad. I have been waiting for playbook Japanese support. I guess I have to rely on some app to use Japanese input now or keep using Bold 9900 which is great for typing Japanese. I don't use PC anymore for emailing in Japanese. Hopefully some developer will make app for it soon.

I have several friend in Japan that only use Blackberry and waiting to hear about the Japan launch. I can't believe they will just give the market up to Android and Apple without a fight. There are Billions of Asians There are only Millions of everything else. I thought Blackberry was making a come back. you cannot lead anything if you don't lead. Blackberry knows how to shoot themselves in the foot.

When they were asked about the US launch instead of saying it was an opportunity they chose the word disappointing. What a damper. Many of my friends in the US, most don't know anything about Blackberry's new phones, name change, New Operating System BB10 so this March launch is a blessing. Time they could use to advertise.

I have decided to relocate to Japan and have been holding on to my old torch with all its limitations. I just can't believe it all the waiting and praising RIMM now Blackberry. I want and need a device I can use around the world. What a let down. With my torch I installed the Asian language pack for Japanese input. hmmm.

Blackberry was once the device that everyone wanted they need to take that position and again
and run away with it. No market should be to small or big.

of course there is always the Ebay solution......and yes some markets are too small and yes don't rule out a Sony license, then you would get
a BB10WP(WalkmanPhone), that be something...

The fact that BlackBerry doesn't plan to launch any BB10 devices in Japan at this time means just that, no BB10 devices for Japan at this time. It doesn't mean no BB10 presence in Japan at all. Thorsen Heins has made it clear that the licensing of BB10 is an option on the table, it's simply a matter of finding the most compatible company with whom to partner. Sony appears to be the most logical choice at this time. They already have a hugh and highly diverse ecosystem in place as well as an expansive global market and, like BlackBerry, they are in the process of reinventing themselves after losing their dominance in the consumer electronics market. BlackBerry just launched a new secure, stable mobile computing platform with an intuitive, fluid user interface that allows for seamless integration between QNX based electronic components. Plus BlackBerry just appointed former CEO of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Bert Nordberg to the Board of Directors. Given that each company has what the other needs in order to be successful a partnership between BlackBerry and Sony, if properly executed, could prove to be mutually beneficial.

Great decision.

Put your eggs in WINNING baskets.

p.s. Japan is turning into a country of old codgers anyway. I'm not sure how popular BB is among the 75+'s certainly a distant #3 behind Metamucil and Geritol there.

Sucks, i have persevered with my bold 9000 waiting to get a new phone and now i have to choose between bold 9900 or iphone or android. bummed out but can understand it. DoCoMo never pushed the Blackberry platform. They prefer to push their own products. Is the bb9900 worth getting?

Been loving BB since around 2007 but I need and want Japanese input on my phones and tablets. I can overlook all of the other things as there are enough positive features to make up for them, but no Japanese input is going to be a deal breaker and it makes me sad. I can't see carrying two different devices just becuase I love BB's so much.

I don't know how you are still such the BlackBerry fan Kevin. :) At least I can sit back and ignore this stuff from time to time.

My interest in BlackBerry is really starting to wane. The best news was the Z10 Q10, but nothing but bad news since the event. More major fumbles by a once great company.

Japanese input is definitely a deal breaker for me, I know myself and many others need it! I hope that they'll make an Asian language input pack at least by the time it's released in China...

Ok, call me crazy - but how low does the market share have to be to give up. For example: Japan is at 0.3% and Australia isn't far behind with 0.5%

See the all market shares report from Kantar:

So, you start ignoring these countries... countries that global companies have presences in, and you instantly create a rift in those companies device platform selections. Now you're forcing them into adopting android, iOS and Win8 Phones in countries. Of course, my countries company division president talks to your countries division president and meet, "hey.. you have android.. hey... you have BB10" and here we are again, deep in the BYOD.

If blackberry wants to play global corporate they need to suck it up and offer a phone in every market no matter what the share, or they'll continue to rift us global IT guys.

I made an account just to comment on this thread.
Does anybody here actually live in Japan ??? Ive been here for 15 years and I was very interested in getting a BBQ10.

I read through all of the comments and 99% are just false and laughable.

The comment about Docomo is correct - They do not promote BB in anyway. In most stores, the phone that they have is at the bottom of the rack and just a mock up.Seriously, Ive only met 1 non business person in 15 years who has a BB here. Thats the point - most people who buy smartphones arent business people, its the kids and students. BB is targeted at business people.while alot of phones especially from Docomo are aimed at the younger crowd. Amazon are doing well selling the kindle here as its in the stores and Amazon took the time to built up their brand name.

I have a playbook and love it but really, its BBs fault that they let this market go. Nokia did as well ! Apple have done very well here and the Same with Samsung because of promotion.

BB just made a big mistake - promote it here and hopefully the market share will increase. Give it to Au and softbank as well as Docomo. The top 3 carriers and actually get them to promote it.

I'm in Japan and you're right, lot of ignorant ppl here. I'll probably go iPhone now with AU. Docomo screwed up BB, they were pushing flip phones all the way until Samsung android and then they said smart phone for the first time. Lesson here for BB, choose your partners carefully. Goodbye BB, good luck.

Being a Japanese, I do see some comments wrong, some right, some with ignorant hostility, and whatever.

I have been loving the Playbook for a quite while. Like some people say, it can display Japanese texts, but has no feature to input on the OS level. I was really hoping that Z10 with BB10 will solve this problem, but unfortunately, the answer seems to be NO at the current moment.

It sucks, really.

But I do have to admit that BB's move is pretty much correct. As someone mentioned, BB has no presence here in Japan especially in the non-biz market. The physical QWERTY keyboard was not enough compelling against the past feature phones or current smartphones. Being in the IT industry myself, I can easily imagine how difficult it is to develop a Japanese input function. Especially I estimate that BB doesn't have too many Japanese software engineers :-(

It doesn't mean I follow their decision, so I truly hope that BB10 itself will get enough momentum in the market and BB will reconsider their strategies.