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It didn’t matter that it was a better piece of technology than anything else in Japanese stores.

But Japan’s emojis had been crafted based on a unique pop-cultural sensibility derived in large part from cartoons and comic books, iconography not necessarily shared by people from other countries.And many are set to automatically pop up in a window based on what you type, just like predictive text or spelling suggestions. But they’re relegated to a sideshow role rather than being the main event, all but upstaged by the far more flamboyant stamps.Line stamps also have a big leg up on emojis from another standpoint: commercialization.Emojis differ slightly from platform to platform; Android’s don’t precisely resemble those used on Apple or Twitter or Skype, and vice versa.But since LINE users are all aboard the same service, the stamps are always the same.Kurita originally envisioned emojis as a workaround for cellphone users to deploy rudimentary graphics despite the chokingly slow connection speeds of the era.

But the little faces and hearts were quickly repurposed by young Japanese women, who found them irresistibly —cute—and began peppering their text messages with them.

Apple quickly released a local update adding bare-bones emoji capability to Japanese i Phones. Behind the scenes, Apple worked in parallel with Google to “translate” emojis from the multiple conflicting formats used by the Japanese telecoms into Unicode, the universally accepted standard for text encoding on computers around the world.

This would give emojis their green card for widespread use outside of Japan.

Mac desktops and laptops had long sold well in Japan, even during dark periods for the company in its home country.

Nobody expected anything less from the sleek, high-tech i Phone. Unlike consumers in every other corner of the planet, Japanese customers stayed away from the i Phone in droves.

To cap it all off, in November the Oxford Dictionaries declared the tears-of-joy emoji the “word” of the year.