New group launches in Japan to promote corporate use of iPhones, iPads

The "iOS Consortium" launched with 15 firms, as larger companies like NEC and Hitachi say they may join in the future

A new group to promote the use of iPhones and iPads in Japanese businesses launched in Tokyo on Thursday.

The iOS Consortium said in a statement that while the majority of companies outside Japan are adopting Apple's handsets and tablets to some degree, this is not the case domestically, which puts Japan at a competitive disadvantage.

"Within Japan, in terms of the iOS-related corporate market, there are many problems such as restrictions on the use of applications and issues with system administration, and iPhones and iPads are not spreading among businesses," the group said.

Initial members include 15 domestic firms from a variety of industries, including Cybozu, a software developer, and Unicharm, a Japanese maker of diapers and sanitary products. Regular members will be charged an annual membership fee of ¥240,000 (US$3,000).

The group's charter says its goals include providing consulting services to firms that have online businesses or assets, performing market analysis, and holding seminars and events. It plans to support both companies that will provide applications based on iOS, and those that want to integrate them into their activities.

The group received considerable media attention after the Nikkei, Japan's largest business newspaper, reported earlier this week that it would launch with 70 domestic companies, including Hitachi and NEC. But spokesmen from those companies said that while they have been invited, they are still deciding on whether to join.

The iOS Consortium said it will continue to try to attract new membership, and plans to have its first meeting next month, which will include sessions aimed at new members. Formation of committees and actual activities are to begin from August or later.

While Japan has long been a dominant global maker of hardware and electronic components, it has had only token success at exporting its software endeavors. On 2channel, the popular online Japanese bulletin board, many saw the newly formed consortium as yet another admission of the country's software gap with the West, with one anonymous poster writing "This is why Japan is finished."

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