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iPhone 3GS Is Number One In Japan 250

mudimba writes "The iPhone 3GS 32GB is currently the best selling phone in Japan (the 16GB version came in at number nine). This is in stark contrast to reports from earlier this year that the Japanese hate the iPhone. Nobody is sure what specific features caused the change of heart, though it is speculated that video capture and voice control might be part of the answer. When the 3G iPhone first came out it saw a spike in sales, but unlike the 3GS it was unable to outsell locally-made handsets."
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iPhone 3GS Is Number One In Japan

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @08:15AM (#29103953) Journal

    This is in stark contrast to reports from earlier this year that the Japanese hate the iPhone.

    This "hatred" was debunked [] shortly thereafter:

    AppleInsider has posted a great article explaining that Wired's story about Japanese iPhone hate [] was completely false and has been edited at least twice []. The comments in the article were recycled and taken out of context, with those interviewed blogging about [] the mistakes []. The piece then goes on to analyze the iPhone's standing in Japan, as well as some of the major factors working for and against it. At last it points out that the Wall Street Journal tried the same myth of failure [] just after the phone's launch in Japan, recycled from a myth the year before [], pushed by a research company with a possible anti-Apple agenda [].

  • Re:Obvious (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @08:38AM (#29104149)
    TV, radio, swipe payment ability, quality camera: just a few of the common features in Japanese phones.
  • Emoji (Score:4, Informative)

    by tmkn ( 1520967 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @08:50AM (#29104251)

    Basically every Japanese cell phone supports "emoji" emoticons, but iPhone was long without the support. This definitely was a deal breaker for some people, especially younger consumers. []

    It's officially only available for Japanese customers, but it can be unlocked: []

    The instructions sound suspicious but I personally tested this on 2.2 firmware and it worked. I can now use emoji in text messages, tweets, or any other text field. It's also a great way to amaze your friends who have iPhones; every iPhone from 2.2 up supports viewing emoji by default.

  • by donaggie03 ( 769758 ) <{moc.liamtoh} {ta} {reyemso_d}> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:02AM (#29104363)
    How is this a troll? The Japanese are notorious for their SMS and MMS use; even more so than Americans. Releasing a phone in Japan without these capabilities would not garner huge sales. Or is it a troll because previous IPhones DID have these features?
  • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:09AM (#29104445)

    How is this a troll? The Japanese are notorious for their SMS and MMS use; even more so than Americans. Releasing a phone in Japan without these capabilities would not garner huge sales. Or is it a troll because previous IPhones DID have these features?

    MMS support is (or was, at least) useless on the iPhone 3G. My wife MMSed me a photo, and I had to pick it up at a website.

    SMS support is excellent, however. Very nice interface. I like it a lot.

    My main problem with the iPhone is that it's too restrictive: Apple blocks useful apps from the app store, and I can only buy an iPhone together with a 2-year subscription as a network that sucks. I think I'll try that HTC Hero with Android next.

  • Re:Gaming (Score:2, Informative)

    by nikolajsheller ( 553835 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:15AM (#29104497)

    What's not to like?

    Lack of openness?

  • Re:Obvious (Score:3, Informative)

    by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:16AM (#29104511)
    The FELICA system. Used to pay for train fairs, coffee, vending machines, etc.
  • Re:Gaming (Score:5, Informative)

    by am 2k ( 217885 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:23AM (#29104595) Homepage

    What's not to like?

    The lack of proper buttons, which are fairly essential for many games? Every time you want the user to press somewhere on the screen, you lose some screen estate due to the finger covering the parts at and below that point.

  • Re:Gaming (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jeeeb ( 1141117 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:54AM (#29104957)
    Sorry I don't think that's been a factor at all. The device has been promoted as a life style package with points such as easily being able to look up restaurant reviews, the nice cut and paste functionality, good navigation software and the ability to read manga on being emphasized in commercials.

    Now of course none of those points are particularly original and infact I have a bottom of the range Japanese phone that can do all of those things. However the iPhone does make them convenient, does look good and isn't shockingly expensive. Especially in a nation where mobile phones play such a large part in day to day life.
  • market share? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mshultz ( 632780 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:58AM (#29105021)

    The 32GG 3GS may be number 1, but the article doesn't mention what sort of market share it takes to claim that spot. I was just in Japan for most of this summer, and I went looking at phones with some Japanese friends. There are just SO many feature-rich phone choices out there from all of the major carriers that no single model really seemed to stand out as a market leader. If the 32GB 3GS got even a small bump in sales, that could have pushed it into first place.

    As for the swipe payment option, I expected to see things like Mobile Suica [] used by lots of people, but it really doesn't seem to be too common yet. Most people still seemed to pay for train and subway trips with regular Suica [] (or Pasmo, Icoca, etc.) cards in their wallets. It's certainly a cool feature, but it apparently hadn't been adopted by a large part of the population yet.

  • Re:Obvious (Score:2, Informative)

    by relguj9 ( 1313593 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:10AM (#29105203)

    TV, radio, swipe payment ability, quality camera: just a few of the common features in Japanese phones.

    "iheartradio" is a free app that lets you listen to just about any radio station you can imagine.

    Who the hell wants local TV? You can stream any news you want from the internet.

    Swipe payment is retarded, you don't need to swipe a card to make payments all you need is the credit card info. There are actually business apps which allow you to take the credit card info of someone and take payments from them.

    The camera is all you've got, but if you're looking to take high quality images then you aren't really looking for a phone, you're looking for a camera. The quality lenses required for high quality photography are MUCH too large for a camera.

  • by dasmoo ( 1052358 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:02AM (#29105909)
    You're really citing Daniel "make shit up as I go along and claim it's the truth" Eran as a source?
    The iPhone is considered a big, bulky, slow phone in Japan. Maybe the speed of the 3GS makes it more appealing.
    Actually, you're probably Daniel Eran, so it would make sense to cite yourself.
  • by cellis ( 1564793 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:10AM (#29105993)
    I live in Japan (and own an iphone but that's moot for this discussion). Softbank has done a few things lately that probably had quite a bit to do with this. They have been for months running a hugely successful ad campaign with a little white Dog as the mascot, I don't pay enough attention to tell his name or the details but I guarantee you my wife and mother-in-law could (and just about any trend oriented female or male on the street could). They also recently signed SMAP and began running commercials featuring them a week or so ago. If you aren't aware of just how unbelievably huge SMAP is here I most likely can't explain it, explaining a "boy band" who are now in their 30s would probably be hard enough haha. I had never seen anything like it personally coming from the US, they are very very popular here amongst nearly all types of people and it shows Softbank is the king of advertising in the phone market over here.

    Secondly, they recently dropped the price way down on the iphones both on the ownership fees and the monthly packet plans. I'm not fully aware of the details as I got my iphone before the drop (dammit!) but if you go past a Softbank store FREE IPHONE is plastered all over the place. The free ones are the old model but the 3Gs is fairly cheap too. Softbank is known to do some fairly shady fee structures so some customers are wary of them, but hey you can't beat free as a marketing tool to get customers into the store. Also iphone was known as a luxury here and some people probably see this price drop as a chance to get one finally.

    Oh and they also finally came out with a one-seg video adapter for the iphone which many Japanese want. (Digital Broadcast TV on your phone.)

    So yeah, in summary, new gadget (always works in Japan) + super hot marketing campaigns + cheap prices + finally getting the iphone to keep up with the Joneses tech wise, win win for Softbank and I'm not really surprised as a casual observer of the "keitai" market that iphone 3Gs is #1 here (this month).
  • Also, it needs to be noted that the iPhone is only offered by SoftBank, which is the 3rd smallest carrier in Japan. The iPhone's sales are still dwarfed by phones offered by the 2 largest, NTT Docomo and KDDI's au.

    Also, here in Japan, softbank coverage is absolutely the worst ever. No building penetration, dead spots inside of major cities, etc...

    If it wasn't locked to SoftBank, I might pick one up myself, but the phone is to make calls, and if I can't do that, then the phone, by association, sucks.
  • by brkello ( 642429 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:34PM (#29107221)
    No, he read the summary. You read his post but failed to comprehend it. He isn't saying that they aren't looking at multiple phones individually. He is saying that you should add up all the different phones that nokia sells with all the phone Apple sales to get a real comparison. Since Nokia sells a lot of different models, it is natural for Apple (which sells very few models) to have a model come out high on the list.
  • by MMInterface ( 1039102 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:50PM (#29109495)
    I wouldn't call it a troll just somewhat uniformed as SMS MMS isn't what they usually use in Japan, its an email based protocol. Some phones such as many Softbank phones come with SMS MMS but that's mostly for international use and the default messaging protocol is a form of push email. Tons of phones released in Japan do not have SMS MMS. Their largest carrier Docomo didn't have any for a long time until and when they did it was for their line international phone. SMS MMS is not an issue there.
  • by Kagura ( 843695 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @03:37PM (#29110167)
    I just got back from Japan a week ago. I was amazed at the number of iPhones there, considering last rumor I heard the Japanese hated them. I asked someone and they said the internet was not unlimited (in the US, internet on iPhone is unlimited). Can anyone confirm that? I wouldn't have expected them to not have unlimited internet on their phone included in the plan.
  • by Koutarou ( 38114 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:17PM (#29113675)

    This is incorrect, you cannot subscribe to a Softbank iPhone plan without the "Packet Full" data option, which is price-capped at about 4400 yen. (Its a sliding scale with both floor/ceiling caps - you have to pay at least 1000 yen and can't get charged over 4400). In practice, every iPhone user pays the 4400 yen price unless all they do is use email.

    (Note, tethering is not included in Packet Full)

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