Our sources were right. The iPad 2 is arriving in Japan tomorrow, April 28.

And, you know what? The elusive white iPhone 4 will be in stores as well.

The official confirmation comes from no other than SoftBank. A few minutes ago, they added this update on their Twitter account:

It confirms both the iPad 2 …and the white version of Apple’s iPhone. Thanks for waiting!

Pricing

The second Twitter update, a few seconds later, confirms the iPad 2 pricing.

  • Wi-Fi 16GB JPY 44,800
  • Wi-Fi 32GB JPY 52,300
  • Wi-Fi 64GB JPY 60,800
  • Wi-Fi + 3G 16GB JPY 56,640
  • Wi-Fi + 3G 32GB JPY 64,800
  • Wi-Fi + 3G 64GB JPY 72,720

The prices are very close to those of the first version of the iPad when it was released.

What about the data plans for the 3G versions ? iPad 2 for everybody it is [Ja, PDF]. It’s again similar to what SoftBank offered to iPad 1 owners.

Since it’s SoftBank that went ahead and confirmed all the info without Apple having updated anything -yet-, we can pretty much be certain that the SIM lock –unseen in the rest of the world– stays in place for the moment.

Enough supplies?

One thing is certain. Apple is very confident it will be able to supply enough tablets to this very important market, all the while expanding into Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, eight other countries on April 29 and China on May 6 (Wi-Fi model only). The company announced very strong numbers for its last quarter, although some analysts were disappointed. All inventory was sold but the earthquake that hit us left scars in the local supply chain essential for Cupertino. Tim Cook admitted some disruption last week while stressing that employees worked “around the clock” to mitigate the issues.

Will there be enough iPad 2 for Japan? The staggering USD 11bn purchase commitment should help.

PR Chaos?

On the communication front, only SoftBank is communicating. Nothing from Apple yet. The roll-out is unusual for Apple, to say the least. We just know that the Genius Bar are not accepting appointments until Saturday, certainly to cope with the sales.

No pre-order period –a great revenue maker for both Apple and Softbank via the anticipation build-up. Did they want to avoid hurting those iPad 1 sales? Maybe. Word is that if you’re getting a -discounted- iPad 1, you won’t have an exchange offer for the iPad 2. Ouch!

No real free publicity period this time around either –no posters in electronic stores announcing the new date, but then again, they had already printed the original ones with “March 25”.

Unprecedented. Unusual. Some hardcore fans might dislike how this plays out. Let’s wait and see. And let’s see the queues building up in front of stores tomorrow!

 

Oh… as I’m about to hit the publish button, SoftBank official press release [Ja] comes up. 20 minutes later. It’s honestly a bit chaotic. You gotta love the real-time news, right?

 

 

Help Japan

Whether or not you care about the iPad 2 or the white iPhone, you should continue to help Japan.

Mobile in Japan supports our amazing friends at #quakebook who created the beautiful 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake. Buy it on Amazon (US store: http://amzn.to/quakebook & UK store: http://amzn.to/qbuk). 100% of your money goes to the Japan Red Cross society.

 

Turns out I was wrong.

I had placed my bets for a mid-May release, but the second iteration of the iPad will hit Japan’s shores on April 28. That’s tomorrow, folks. You read that right.

Our various sources confirm it.

April 28 in all stores

As the Nikkei correctly reports, the tablet will debut Thursday in Apple stores, retailers and Softbank Mobile outlets. That last part seems could confirm that the iPad might very well still be SIM locked in Japan, i.e. no way to slip another micro-SIM than the official carrier (but free to put international chips in).

Apple sold all the iPad 2 it had on its inventory last quarter, but some analysts called the numbers a bit disappointing. The recent disaster in Japan and its related components shortage –Japanese suppliers being responsible from flash memory chips to screen overlays– didn’t allow the company to muster production further. Apple’s acting CEO admitted some supply chain disruption last week but stayed silent on a release date in Japan. Since then, the company committed to a staggering USD 11bn purchase commitment, concomitant with the tablet expansion into new countries in Asia.

A release in Japan shows Cupertino is very confident in its ability to widely deliver the product.

The re-opening of the Apple store in Sendai last Thursday showed a relative return to normalcy for Apple Japan. The city and its one million resident were the closest to the massive earthquake and its following tsunami. Some unconfirmed rumors mention a symbolic launch of the iPad 2 in that shop, but I wouldn’t bet on it at this hour.

Geniuses to the rescue

Our own Joseph Tame indicates that there’s a sudden lack of Genius bar availability starting tomorrow until Saturday. Ressources are being redirected for an influx of customers, as the iPad 2 will undoubtedly lead to lots and lots of people queueing in front of the major stores.

White iPhone

Some of our sources are mentioning that the elusive white version of the iPhone might also arrive tomorrow. This is all very muddy to me. It is supposedly arriving in the US today, although the official online store still only displays the black version.

In any case, if you’re looking for the iPad 2, start queuing!

[box] UPDATE: It’s official, both iPad 2 and white iPhone released April 28. Pricing confirmed. Read more.[/box]

Help Japan

Whether or not the iPad 2 is released tomorrow, you should continue to help Japan.

Mobile in Japan supports our amazing friends at #quakebook who created the beautiful 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake. Buy it on Amazon (US store: http://amzn.to/quakebook & UK store: http://amzn.to/qbuk). 100% of your money goes to the Japan Red Cross society.

More than a month after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, there’s finally official word about the impact on Apple’s global supply chain.

Apple’s Q2 2011 earnings –which, it has to be noted, remain very strong– allowed Tim Cook to address the question directly.

Disruption mitigated

As pointed out yesterday, the disruption to Apple’s sourcing seems to have been mitigated for the past month through some extra effort, leading to minimal sales impact.

The acting CEO acknowledged during the Q&A session that Apple was sourcing “hundreds of items” from Japan. These range from LCD components to coatings and optical drives. “The earthquake and tsunami and nuclear crisis caused disruption for suppliers”. Acknowledging the difficulties, Cook added that “employees have been literally working around the clock” and have come up with a “number of contingency plans”. He stressed the impressive resilience and “outstanding teamwork” of Apple’s partners in Japan.

Uncertain future

The situation remains uncertain, as the company would prefer to maintain its long-lasting relationship. “There’s obviously no guarantees” warned Tim Cook as he anticipated no shortage nor cost impact for the upcoming quarter. Apple will revisit the situation during the next earnings in September.

Cook admitted that there had been an impact on revenue for Q2 but that it shouldn’t amount to more than USD 200m for Q3. As a reminder, Apple’s revenue in Japan were about 1.4bn USD for the last quarter of 2010.

No word on iPad2

Apple didn’t announce any release date for the delayed iPad2 in Japan. It seems to rule out a roll-out in the next few days, that some analysts had predicted. I personally remain bullish on a mid-May release date.

 

Remember that you can help Japan. Strike that, remember that you should help Japan. “It’s an incredible tragedy” says Tim Cook. Head over our friends at #quakebook, and buy their ‘2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake’ (direct Amazon links: http://amzn.to/quakebook (US) & http://amzn.to/qbuk (UK)). 100% of the money goes to the Japan Red Cross society.

 

Image credit: Quasic, under cc by-sa 2.0 license.

The Mobile Marketing Association Forum in Singapore is right around the corner.

I was there last year, along with a few other executives focused on Japan and it was a highlight of my 2010 conference circuit. Hence and even if I had to cancel my speaking engagement this year (sorry Rohit!), I’d like to recommend this event to all of you interested in the mobile business across Asia Pacific.

The event will take place on May 4 & 5, preceded by a full day of workshops on the 3rd, all at the Grand Hyatt Singapore. Representatives of companies ranging from Dentsu to Alcatel-Lucent, from Google to Ogilvy will certainly ensure that the full mobile prism is covered, from brands to telcos.

 


Got what it takes for The Pitch?

A new addition to the program caught my eye. Called The Pitch, it will allow six companies to demonstrate in six minutes how disruptive their service is. No Powerpoint –hallelujah!–, no presentation, just raw convincing. I like that.

Three benefits of taking part in The Pitch
#1. Visibility is important.
Some of the best products never make it to market, because no one sees them, and with ever-rising levels of competition in the current economic climate, becoming invisible is the best way to lose out. Get the edge on the competition, and make your pitch.
#2. The audience is focused.
The very nature of MMAF attracts an audience that is going to be interested in your product or service, particularly if you can emphasize its mobile technology angle. Why try to make yourself heard over the crowd, when you can talk to the right audience right here.
#3. Short, sharp and to the point.
The show and tell format of The Pitch strips away a lot of the unnecessary fluff, and instead puts your innovation front and centre. The fast pace of the event also helps to keep things moving along – and keeps the audience of top executives captivated, and interested.

The committee is still considering candidates, so if you think that you got what it takes, just submit yours.

So what are you waiting for?

Register with the  following code to get a 10% discount: P21317TWMMA

If you do go, let me know in the comments. If not, you’ll be able to get live updates on Twitter via @MMA_APAC and #MMAF.

On a personal note, I’m particularly sad to be missing Tomi Ahonen –the mobile uber-twitter. I mean, besides being a great guy, just check his blog. I promise I’ll try to make it again next year.

[box] UPDATE: the iPad 2 arrives on April 28. Read more. Official pricing here. [/box]

We are delaying the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan while the country and our teams focus on recovering from the recent disaster

That was a month ago. But with with the end of the self-restraint period that many are calling for –including the Prime Minister, will we see the tablet in the hands of Japanese soon?

Coming soon

According to the chatter, it’s probable. The iPad2, originally planned for March 25, could either land in Japan next week –in line with Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore– or in mid-May.

Two potential dates? It’s still a rumor and neither SoftBank or Apple would confirm anything, as usual. I won’t go into the overused “people in the know” formula, but I think we’re close.

My bet would be mid-May.

Supply chain disruption

With ‘Made in Japan’ all over NAND flash chips, DRAM chips, electronic compasses and, possibly, some touch screens overlays, analyst firm IHS iSuppli has been warning of potential iPad2 shortages more than a month ago.

Whilst the iPad is assembled in China, it’s hard to overlook the impact of the destruction -or temporary suspension of production- of factories and the logistical difficulties inherent to the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory.

Cupertino denies supply issues altogether and the apparent continuity in the the sales -demand just outstripping supply- would make some believe everything remained normal.

My take? With companies like Toshiba, Nikon, Sony, Fujitsu, Panasonic or Hitachi scaling down production and more than a thousand aftershocks which might be keeping some semiconductor factories shut down, Apple’s supply chain couldn’t not have been disrupted. The sourcing couldn’t easily have been redirected towards other countries –think South Korea and Taiwan. Most probably, Chinese factories had a confortable buffer of parts during the launch period and the last month allowed for corrections in the sourcing process. The current aggressive approach –from offering upfront cash paiements to suppliers to agreeing to price hikes to ensure provision–  shows Apple is willing to do whatever it takes.

Add this fact: about 5 per cent of the company’s revenue are coming from Japan according to the Dec. 2010 quarterly report. That’s USD 1.4bn.

Hard to overlook. The iPad2 cannot be too far from the shores of Japan.

[box] UPDATE: Tim Cook confirms trouble with suppliers, stays mum on Japan iPad2 release date. Read more.[/box]

Help Japan

Don’t misread me, the decision of Apple not to sell the iPad2 as scheduled in Japan was obviously not linked with pure logistics, the company was and remains committed to help during this time of mourning. It has actually done a lot for the relief support, either via employees going the extra mile -amazing story- in various stores across the country or via the official iTunes compilation ‘Songs for Japan‘.

You should continue to help too.

Mobile in Japan supports our amazing friends at #quakebook who created the beautiful 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake. Buy it on Amazon (US store: http://amzn.to/quakebook & UK store: http://amzn.to/qbuk). 100% of your money goes to the Japan Red Cross society.