Apple celebrates Year of the Dragon with Jan. 6 ‘Red Friday’ shopping event

Following up on Lucky Bags that were handed out to Japanese Apple customers this weekend, Apple is also celebrating the Lunar New Year with a one day Apple shopping event, dubbed “Red Friday” on Friday, Jan. 6 in China/Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. In the past, Apple has given modest discounts to its products for the Lunar New Year.

The Lunar New Year celebration starts on Monday, Jan. 23.

Al Gore: “Everyone on [Apple's] management team could be CEO of a world class corporation.”

Al Gore had some words on the passing of Steve Jobs at the AllThingsD conference in Asia last night. He said that Jobs was “the kind of guy that comes along once every 250 years.”

On Apple after him, Jobs relayed to Gore that Disney, where Jobs’ served on the board after selling Pixar, fell on hard times after Walt Disney died. Often, the board at Disney would ask “What would Walt do?” and trying to figure that out would end up being the wrong answer. Jobs, according to Gore, didn’t want this to happen at Apple. He wanted Apple to make its own decisions moving forward based on the decisions of the current management team.

Gore wasn’t terribly revealing on specifics but he did say “There’s a lot of stuff in the pipeline and the team [Steve Jobs] left behind is really firing on all cylinders”.

Finally, when asked about Apple’s future, Gore said that the management team is the best in the world and that “Everyone on that management team could be CEO of a world class corporation”. Gore acknowledges this is both a blessing and a curse and, as with the case of Ron Johnson, other companies will be trying to pick them off.

Gore also talked about the AT&T&T-Mobile merger during the Q&A answering a question from TIMN’s Joanna Stern saying that the merger would be unlikely, and would be hard to overcome Justice Department’s challenge.

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The competition: Google introduces Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and the Galaxy Nexus

The keynote went a little bad over in Hong Kong with both the Facial Recognition and the Quick Response features not working or crashing the device. Overall though, there are some interesting new features that certainly differentiate Android from iOS and Windows Phone 7.

As for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone, it has a 5-megapixel camera which has to be a letdown when compared to 8 megapixel cameras that are standardizing on the high end across the industry. Its most impressive feature (unless you are trying to squeeze it into your pocket) has to be the 4.65-inch 720P display. Although Pentile, which means not every pixel gets RGB dots, it does get close to Apple’s 326 PPI Retina display with a 316 PPI density. Like the as yet unpopular Honeycomb tablets, it doesn’t have any front facing buttons but has screen buttons that shift around as well as all of those new Android 4.0 features.

Check 9to5Google.com for ongoing coverage.

Grand-opening of the flagship Hong Kong Apple Store at IFC Center (Video roundup)

Apple’s flagship Store in Hong Kong just opened in the IFC Center this morning (Hong Kong time). The new Store certainly seems like a pretty big deal to the locals who’ve been lined up for days.

Early this week we published pictures of the beautiful architecture at this new Store. Below, you’ll find some of the videos uploaded around the web showing the excitement in the air at launch:

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KDDI snags Apple’s iPhone in Japan breaking Softbank’s monopoly

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According to a Nikkei Business report (English), another iPhone carrier exclusive country has fallen. Softbank (in blue, above) in Japan has had a monopoly on the iPhone for the past three years in the world’s third largest economy. However, with the release of next iPhone, KDDI/au will carry the device. Both carriers still trail behind the leader NTT, as you can see in the un-translated image above.

According to the report, the iPhone will hit HDDI/au shops in November, a little later than the US expects to see them. If I’m not mistaken, KDDI operates a CDMA network, which is thought to be built into the upcoming worldphone iPhones.

This could still mean big market share gains for Apple in the country that Android hit by storm over the past two years.

KDDI’s shares were up 2.1% at Y642,000, while Softbank’s shares dropped 7.3% to Y2,413.

Wraps come off Flagship Hong Kong Apple Store at IFC center (update: opens Sept. 24!)

We’re hearing it is perhaps weeks from being open but this evening you are seeing the enormity of this store in Hong Kong’s IFC shopping complex.  That is a four story tall red Apple which spans three lanes of traffic for those measuring at home.

Update: Reader Joe send in this shot from inside:

Update 2: Engadget has nabbed some higher-resolution pictures. They also say the store opens September 24th!