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

But the efforts would also, ironically, pave the way for emojis’ downfall in their home country.

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(Gmail launched emoji support several years earlier, as did a number of third-party emoji apps, but neither of these developments paved the way for their mainstream adoption in the way that putting them on the i Phone’s virtual keyboard did.) With so much hype and excitement building in such a short timeframe, it’s fair to ask: Are we experiencing an emoji bubble? We can find some possible answers to those questions in the birthplace of the emoji: Japan.

The very first emojis appeared on a handset sold by the company J-Phone (now Softbank) in 1997, but high prices kept it out of the hands of average citizens.

Lawyers have cited emojis as evidence in dramatic courtroom trials.

President Obama gave emojis a shout-out on the White House lawn, while Russian government officials threatened to ban same-sex emoji couples.

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

In a desperate bid to appease potential customers turned off by the lack of such a popular feature on the expensive phones, Masayoshi Son, president of Apple’s Japanese retail partner Softbank, convened an emergency press conference, declaring he had “convinced Apple that email without emoji isn’t email in Japan”. 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.

Line stamps also have a big leg-up on emojis from another standpoint: commercialisation.

The company’s main source of revenue is hawking an ever-changing array of new stamp sets to customers, many of which are designed in concert with big corporations merchandising their product lines.

Their boyfriends followed suit, and before long emoji were booming.

Surprisingly, Do Co Mo declined to trademark the designs.

These monochromatic buttons share little more than a basic concept with the slickly designed, subtly drop-shaded smileys and figurines we know today.

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