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  • Move Over China, Hello Japan! Not So Fast, iPhone

    Image via iPhoneBuzz

    In only two short years, we have seen an almost unbelievable amount of growth in the iPhone's popularity. Spreading from continent to continent like wildfire, Apple's revolutionary device remains one of the most sought-after mobile phones in the world by those yet to experience what the rest of the planet still can't seem to get enough of (even amidst growing competition and competitor jabs at every turn).

    But despite all the attention given to China's introduction to the iPhone this month, elsewhere in Asia there isn't the same affection for and interest in the iPhone as one might expect, particularly from the tech-savvy people of Japan.

    This morning on PC World, Sumner Lemon of IDG News Service, acknowledged that only recently has the iPhone found some "love" in The Land of the Rising Sun.
    Apple's smartphone received a lukewarm reception when it was launched here last year and has seen only moderate success since then. But there are signs the future might be brighter for the iPhone in Japan -- and not just because Japanese operator Softbank now gives some models away for free with any new two-year contract.
    Some analysts have suggested that a popular iPhone in Japan could ultimately facilitate more growth, popularity, and revue for the iPhone globally than if it becomes equally popular in China despite the exponentially larger mobile community there. The logic? If Japanese consumers fall in love with the iPhone, so too will Japan's innovative developers, programmers, and mobile marketers - all of whom could challenge Apple and the iPhone to improve upon the device's hardware and software in a relatively short period of time.

    At the Ceatec exhibition, where Japanese electronics companies show off the latest prototypes from their research labs, auto maker Nissan and audio specialist Yamaha demonstrated prototype iPhone applications for the first time. The demonstrations give a hint of what the iPhone's potential in Japan could be with the right applications.
    Although most Japanese mobile customers, according to the PC World report, prefer clamshell and slider handsets, the iPhone is starting to take root in Japan. And if it sticks (and grows, of course), the iPhone could see a world of potential out of Japan like it could never even begin to imagine from China or just about anywhere else.

    Wishful thinking for the iPhone? Maybe. But as the Japanese express more interest in the iPhone, perhaps Apple should show a little more interest in the Japanese.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Move Over China, Hello Japan! Not So Fast, iPhone started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 23 Comments
    1. bohemian03's Avatar
      bohemian03 -
      I'm Japanese but I am in love with my iPhone 3GS!
    1. brentbizzle's Avatar
      brentbizzle -
      The iPhone will never be popular enough in japan. For it to grow to the level that this article is talking about would mean reinventing a lot of Japanese tech culture. The iPhone will probably continue to have medocre sales with every new model released in japan.
    1. Ticko's Avatar
      Ticko -
      oh i hope it does because the developers over there will have us the coolest stuff for our phones in the shortest amount of time
    1. lincolnstudios's Avatar
      lincolnstudios -
      That is not what I see here on the news. The lines were just as long here for the iPhone as they were in the states and I would say at least half of my Japanese friends own and love there iPhone.

      If only apple would make them in HOT PINK, put a strap holder on the side, add Video phone, train and point card solutions then we would have no need for any other phone in this country.

      Living in Japan and seeing the iPhone really was nothing fantastic only because we have been using more advanced cell phones for over 5 years now that did way more than the iPhone. It is nice and I love my iPhone but I had a docomo touch screen cell phone over 6 years ago here that did all and more than my iPhone does now. It was not as cool but it did much more.

      Anyway, apple needs to be here to see what is going on. Stats mean nothing at all when you calculate how many people are on such a small Island like Japan.

      Go get em Apple...
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      It would be awesome if it took off in Japan but for some reason I don't think that it would in their tech savvy country. It seems like they'd come out with something more advanced... What am I saying?!?! Nothing can ever beat out the iPhone! The Apple's falling off the tree all over the world and leaving their mark!
    1. ferre0001's Avatar
      ferre0001 -
      Another lame article trying to say iPhone sucks in Japan. Who cares? People who write these are the ones who use something other than an iPhone. They write these article to self justify their own lame excuse for buying other crappy phone. I bought almost every iteration of winmo, they all stink. People complain too much about other phones because they don't own them and envy them to a point of writing crap about them. I'm sure the author of that article probably owns a blackberry and maybe stocks too.
    1. Maknificent's Avatar
      Maknificent -
      um...I disagree with that...I love all windows mobile phones...I have had from the 8125,8525,Tilt,Fuze,Touch HD, and I will purchase the Tilt 2 when it's released...not to mention I barely use my 32gb white 3gs..it only has about 10 hours of talk time...it's more of a backup when my BlackBerry bold dies ...look more like to me you're trying to justify your own reasons for owning an iPhone & not the latter
    1. tudtran's Avatar
      tudtran -
      I'm hoping some smart Japanese find ways to mod the Iphone
    1. DarkoNova's Avatar
      DarkoNova -
      Don't the Japanese already have cell phones the size of cigarette lighters with like 29.6 megapixel cameras?

    1. tw1zt3d's Avatar
      tw1zt3d -
      if apple just modified the case a little bit so the people in japan could add a cell phone charm, the iphone would sell like hotcakes... all the phones i saw when i visited tokyo,(regardless how funky), have cell phone charms on them
    1. ecd5000's Avatar
      ecd5000 -
      my opinion is that cell phone charms are pointless but they sell, i would like for this to take off because the japanese are pretty much awesome at what they can do with electronics, and this will just expand the possibilities of what the iphone can already do, so go get em apple!
    1. brentbizzle's Avatar
      brentbizzle -
      While being able to add charms to the phone would probably help it sell, there are too many other factors that will prevent it. If you ask any American how to send an email, chances are they will tell you to sit down at a computer. Ask a Japanese person and they'll tell you to use your cell phone. Cell phones in japan live independently from computers. Most working men don't use computers at home and neither do most housewives. Younger kids might use the family pc, and younger adults might have a home pc, but i'll be willing to bet they use it mostly for music. Japanese consumers don't want to have to connect the iPhone to a pc to update and maintain it.

      The iPhone battery compared to Japanese phones is complete crap. All the phones I owned living on japan ran for days even with heavy usage. Riding the trains you will see people on their phones all the time. The iPhone battery can't handle the beating most Japanese people will put it through.

      Technology... In japan, almost every phone these days have an RFID chip and a oneseg antenna. The RFID can be charged with money to be used at convience stores, some shops, even vending machines. But the widest use for it is the trains. All stations have touch sensors for this or a card you charge with money to get thru the gates. Since most people have their cell phones out anyway, it allows them to just touch the phone and they're in the station in under 2 seconds. Oneseg allows devices to pick up the free over the air tv. Most phones have it now and lots of people watch it. Cameras as well, the iPhone camera is crap. One phone I picked up in japan had a 5.1 mp camera and this was in 07. The 08 model was 8.1 and waterproof. Japan now has one that records 720p video.

      The size of the iPhone is also unappealing. The us crowd should have no problem, but Japanese people, even all the businessmen, don't use blackberrys. This whole "smartphone" trend didn't take off because regular phones in japan are awesome, and businessmen don't need a lot of the features they provide. This kept phones smaller, maybe a little long, but a short width and slim. The iPhone is as thick or ticker than most flip phones folded and is 1.5x as wide. Plus, it's heavy, most businessmen carry their phones in their shirt's breast pocket while at the office because it's hanging on a lanyard around their neck. Try doing that with an iPhone.

      These are just the few reasons off the top of my head. The iPhone may grow, but it's growth will be limited unless apple produced an iPhone built FOR the Japanese market.
    1. realjaja's Avatar
      realjaja -
      i don't think it has anything to do with features.... one reason that people don't switch over is email. few people use gmail/hotmail and have personal email adds. they do, but the general population uses the email via phone, instead of SMS as their MAIN personal contact.

      thus people not on the iPhone carrier SOFTBANK, don't switch over because they don't want to change their email add.

      sure eye candy features are nice, but that is for less than 10% of the users, I think the real reason is real simple - email forwarding. if the carriers can mandate an email forwarding service or something, there would be more people switching over.
    1. alek's Avatar
      alek -
      Quote Originally Posted by Maknificent View Post
      um...I disagree with that...I love all windows mobile phones...I have had from the 8125,8525,Tilt,Fuze,Touch HD, and I will purchase the Tilt 2 when it's released...not to mention I barely use my 32gb white 3gs..it only has about 10 hours of talk time...it's more of a backup when my BlackBerry bold dies ...look more like to me you're trying to justify your own reasons for owning an iPhone & not the latter
      HMM, a rare case of being stock in the mid 2000's
    1. mikerlx's Avatar
      mikerlx -
      I had no idea the phones were more advanced than the iPhone. The iPhone is heavy and I thought the 3g was going to be lighter just plastic back?
    1. zion21's Avatar
      zion21 -
      Lookin forward to some mods
    1. ferre0001's Avatar
      ferre0001 -
      I think the iPhone is doing just fine in Japan. Not everyone in the US owns an iPhone so I dont know where the data is coming from about iPhone not selling well. If you look in the train, you'll notice lot more people holding one now. I think the truth is people are stuck with their contract and are having a hard time justifying new purchase when the economy still in limbo. If you go to the parks, you'll see a lot of men without work and afraid of going home because they can't tell their family they've got no job. All the features on the japanese phone are great in some area, but they don't have the app store like the iphone. The iphone can do so much more with the ability to download whatever it is you need for your job. Of course sometimes I wished I had a SE with built in flash, but that's only sometimes when I need it.
      As for battery life, if I only use the iphone for phone and some email, no push, I am able to go 2 days without charge. However, there are just too many things I do with the phone...like showing people Puff App, and other quirky japanese apps. I dont really play the private secretary app, but seems like my friends love it..
    1. brentbizzle's Avatar
      brentbizzle -
      Even before the economy tanked the 3G didn't sell well. Why do you think Softbank started giving the 8GB iPhone away for free over a 2 year contract? The 16Gb was only around 10000 yen. At that point no other country had an iPhone deal like that. And this was already after Japanese companies stopped subsidizing phones and customers actually had to start paying for their phones (I think this changed around Sep 2008 although Softbank started doing it before then).

      If you could get the stats, I'd be willing to bet there's a huge concentration of foreigners with iPhones compared to Japanese with iPhones. The iPhone is just too different from Japanese phones, and won't sell enough to ever be considered "successful" when compared to other markets. Out of all the Japanese people I know, maybe 2 have the iPhone. However I know quite a few people with my old AU phone, and several people with the same model phones.
    1. mdc929's Avatar
      mdc929 -
      cant u buy like everything just using your cell phone in japan?
      if i lived there i probably wouldnt even consider an iPhone either
      and i love my 3GS just sayinnnn
    1. neonblues's Avatar
      neonblues -
      Quote Originally Posted by mdc929 View Post
      cant u buy like everything just using your cell phone in japan?
      if i lived there i probably wouldnt even consider an iPhone either
      and i love my 3GS just sayinnnn

      yup almost all stores there and train stations have this sensor where you just tap your phone to and pay your bills...
      some of my family members lived there and they didn't have iphone
      until just this month where i told them to buy me one for it was free..."iphone for everybody"...

      last year, 2008, i tell them to buy iphone and when they get back,
      they bought this sharp touchscreen clamshell phone with a boosting 10.2 megapixel camera and now some japanese phone has over 29.* megapixel camera and HD video recording capabilities...

      about the strap thing and the phone accesories, i believe it's true that iphone in japan should have some case mod for this, most if not all user has strap hanging charms on their phones, and mind me, they had it not just one but several, and not just small charms...

      plus they found it hard to text on the iphone so i guess it would sell that much unless super mod will be applied...