Japanese IOS Software Group to Launch Thursday; NEC, Hitachi May Join

A Japanese group devoted to developing software for the iPhone and iPad is set to launch Thursday, with major domestic firms like Hitachi and NEC mulling becoming members.

Details of the "iOS Consortium" and its activities are still unclear. A recently created placeholder page on Facebook had a simple picture of several Apple products and a short message in Japanese.

"We are planning our official launch on the 21st. With our apologies, please wait a bit more for official guidance about the launch," it said.

The message also included a link to an article about the group that ran Monday evening on the Japanese website of the country's main business daily, the Nikkei. The newspaper reported that the group will support the use of Apple products for business use, including fostering developers and overseeing joint software projects.

The Nikkei said the group will include 70 domestic companies at launch, including tech giants NEC and Hitachi, as well as firms including Unicharm, a major Japanese maker of diapers and sanitary products, and aims to eventually sign up 600 members.

Spokesmen for NEC and Hitachi said their firms are considering joining the group, though both said no final decision has been reached.

A Unicharm spokesman said his company had been invited to join and had agreed to do so, but that was the extent of their involvement so far.

While Apple's smartphones and tablets have been a smash hit in Japan, dominating Samsung and domestic rivals in the consumer market, the products are just starting to catch on in the more conservative corporate world.

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