Apple’s Japanese affair

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iPads with IBM-developed apps offered for Japanese seniors

Building on the global partnership Apple and IBM announced last year, the companies are joining forces in order to improve the quality of life for millions of Japanese senior citizens (who would have imagined that back in 1984???)

On Thursday 30th of April, the two U.S. tech giants announced a partnership with Japan Post Group – a state-owned organization that operates post offices, banks, and insurance services – to deliver iPads with IBM’s custom-built apps to 5 million senior citizens in Japan by 2020. The idea behind this project is to help senior citizens to manage their health and connect with their community.

“We are joining with two of the world’s most respected leaders in technology to bring our elderly generation into the connected world, expand our businesses by deepening relationships, and discover new ways to strengthen the fabric of our society and economy,” said Taizo Nishimuro, CEO of Japan Post Group.

Japan has about 33 million seniors at the moment, who make up 25 percent of the country’s overall population. That number, however, is expected to grow to 40 percent over the next four decades.

“This initiative has potential for global impact, as many countries face the challenge of supporting an aging population, and we are honored to be involved in supporting Japan’s senior citizens and helping enrich their lives,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “iPad is incredibly intuitive, easy to use and has accessibility features built in, making it a perfect device for any generation to be connected and engaged.”

Apple says the  initiative includes:

  • iPad® and its intuitive built-in apps, capabilities and features including FaceTime®, Messages, Mail, Photos and iCloud® Photo Sharing, along with access to rich content in the App Store℠, iTunes Store® and iBooks Store℠. iOS 8, offering award-winning accessibility features, including settings for low vision and hearing impaired users.
  • Custom-built apps specifically for the elderly by IBM Global Business Services for reminders and alerts about medications, exercise and diet, along with direct access to community activities and supporting services such as grocery shopping and job matching.
  • Exclusive cloud services of the IBM MobileFirst for iOS platform, for data integration and security, analytics, and management of millions of devices; along with systems integration services and training for Japan Post Group employees.
  • Pioneering text analytics and accessibility technologies, many invented in IBM Research – Tokyo, including Japanese natural language analysis and tracking to guide seniors and make the experience more natural.
  • The nationwide infrastructure of Japan Post Group and its ability to cover the “last mile” to virtually every citizen of Japan. In addition to 24,000 post offices and a workforce of 400,000, Japan Post Group has existing financial relationships with nearly all of the 115 million adults in Japan

“What we’re starting today draws on IBM’s long heritage of innovation at the intersection of technology, business and society,” said Ginni Rometty, President, Chairman and CEO of IBM. “The potential we see here—as broad as national economics and as specific as the quality of life of individuals and their families—is one example of the potential of mobile-led transformation anywhere in the world where issues of an aging population exist.”

While doing good for the Japanese elderly people, Apple will surely be able to tap into relatively disregarded customer base worldwide.

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Apple's Japanese affair