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Japan's Ipad Frenzy Signals a Sea Change

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Takechiyo Yamanaka surrounded by reporters

Takechiyo Yamanaka camped out in front of the Apple store in Tokyo's upscale Ginza neighborhood from Wednesday evening to be the first in line. He was surrounded by reporters after he bought an iPad Friday.

Credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters

The debut of Apple Inc.'s iPad tablet computer in Japan is generating a level of hype and excitement rarely seen these days for a new electronics product in the gadget-loving nation, underscoring the paucity of buzz-worthy, homegrown devices.

The steady decline of Japan's electronics industry, once considered the birthplace for must-have gadgets, has accelerated in recent years as consumer electronics newcomers such as Apple, Inc. and Vizio Inc. have moved in on the turf with more innovative or cheaper versions of products first developed in Japan.

All the while, Japanese electronics firms have been beaten at their own game by deep-pocketed South Korean conglomerate Samsung Electronics Co. Hindered by weakened finances and averse to risk-taking, Japanese companies have relied on largely incremental improvements to existing products while overseas rivals emphasized user interface and software to enhance ease of use.

View a slideshow on the hype surrounded the launch of the iPad outside the U.S.

From The Wall Street Journal
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