• Kyodo


IPhone fans lined up Friday as the water-resistant iPhone 7 and larger iPhone 7 Plus went on sale in Japan, promising to be the first of the popular smartphone series to allow mobile payments here.

More than 100 people were waiting at an Apple store in Tokyo’s trendy Omotesando district for the new models, which some view as Apple’s latest attempt to woo consumers in a market where it enjoys relatively large market share. The debut came amid concern that iPhone sales are leveling off globally.

“I’ve heard that the mobile payment system is good so I can’t wait to use it,” said Tokyo customer Tomoko Kumagai, referring to the wireless technology enabled by Apple’s adoption of Sony’s FeliCa chip.

At an event near Yurakucho Station in the capital, Kazuhiro Yoshizawa, president of NTT Docomo Inc., said sales were off to a good start. “We are seeing record-high pre-orders,” Yoshizawa said.

Mobile phone providers SoftBank Group Corp. and KDDI Corp. launched sales of the new models the same day.

Apple is scheduled to launch Apple Pay, the mobile payment service, in October. IPhone 7 users can pay for train rides and sundry goods using the same technology used in the local Suica transit card issued by East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), and pay via credit card by registering their card information.

In Japan, users of Android smartphones have been able to make electronic payments by simply touching their handsets to card readers.

The iPhone 7 features better cameras but ditches the traditional headphone jack in favor of a lightning port or wireless headphones.

“The new iPhone is thinner and I like the fact that it’s waterproof,” Shinichi Maeda, a 47-year-old employee at an IT company, said at an Apple store in Osaka’s Shinsaibashi area. “I want to use it in my bathroom as well.”

In another product launch on Friday, the Pokemon Go Plus, a wearable accessory for the popular mobile augmented reality game, drew crowds of “Pokemon Go” fans.

The small wrist-mounted device, made by Nintendo Co., notifies players when the virtual monsters appear via flashing lights and vibration, freeing them from having to stare at the smartphone screen all the time to spot them.

Outside Osaka’s Daimaru Umeda department store, which houses Pokemon Center Osaka, some 700 people had lined up hours before the 10 a.m. opening time, prompting the store to open a couple of hours earlier.

Kana Sugiura, a 29-year-old temp worker, joined the line at around 6:30 a.m. and was able to buy the device.

“(Using Pokemon Go Plus), Pokemon hunting will speed up because I don’t have to stare at the screen. I want to get them (monsters) one after another,” Sugiura said.

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