BlackBerry took time out from its busy BlackBerry 10-filled schedule yesterday to announce that it will stop selling smartphones in Japan.

Reuters followed up on a report by Japanese business daily Nikkei which says the decision comes as the company cannot justify the cost of modifying its operating system to accommodate the Japanese language. BlackBerry's market share in Japan has shrunk to 0.3 percent from 5 percent, the daily added. Shipments of smartphones soared 40 percent in Japan to hit an estimated 14 million in April-September 2012, but BlackBerry sales were believed to be only several tens of thousands, according to Nikkei.

No BlackBery Z10 in Japan

No BlackBery Z10 in Japan

Lately, the company has been in the throes of change, changing its name from the iconic Research In Motion to align itself with its most famous product. The company launched the new BlackBerry 10 platform little over a week ago and since then, sales of the new handset have been solid. However, Japan seems to be a market where BlackBerry wasn’t making any impact in the wake of the Android and iPhone dominance.

A BlackBerry spokeswoman confirmed the news to AllThingsD, saying that the company is indeed pulling out of the Japanese market, at least for the time being. “We are in the process of launching BlackBerry 10 globally in key markets, and we are seeing positive demand for the BlackBerry Z10 in countries where it has already launched. Japan is not a major market for BlackBerry, and we have no plans to launch BlackBerry 10 devices there at this time,” spokeswoman Amy McDowell said.

However, McDowell declined to reveal its plans for selling BlackBerry smartphones in other non-critical markets. The company revealed that it will keep supporting existing devices in Japan, even though sales numbers indicate they are a minority.

Despite the bad news for Japanese BB fans, Japanese app developers can still get their hands on a BlackBerry Z10, albeit a limited edition one. The company is banking everything on the success of BlackBerry 10 and to thank BB10 app developers, it will gift them 12,000 limited edition red BlackBerry Z10s.

The red colour limited edition Z10 for developers

The red colour limited edition Z10 for developers (image credit: BlackBerry Devblog)

The limited edition Z10 is a direct result of the company’s promise to developers before the launch of BB10. BlackBerry hosted “Port-athon” events recently and had said that participants who delivered apps before BlackBerry 10's unveiling on January 30 could earn money, and a smartphone.

To qualify for the red Z10, developers must have submitted applications and have them approved by BlackBerry. The company has announced a February 28 deadline for qualifying for the red Z10. According to the company’s website, it will take about six to eight weeks for the red handset to ship out to the 12,000 lucky developers.

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