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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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  • Re:Obvious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @08:29AM (#29104069) Homepage Journal

    it's small and expensive. That beats "feature-rich" any day of the week.

    It certainly is feature rich. What features are missing?

  • by BuR4N ( 512430 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @08:38AM (#29104147) Homepage Journal
    No "Hatered" needed if the phone is missing an important feature like MMS, it just makes it inferior to other offerings. But that have changed now and its on pair in that area and ahead in several others, so its no surprise it sell well. I personally prefer a simpler/smaller more rugged phone, but I understand the appeal (!) of it, its a great product.
  • by teg ( 97890 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @08:40AM (#29104173) Homepage

    The Japanese aren't brand-motivated

    Japan is the leading market for luxury brands [jetro.org], like Gucci, Louis Vitton, Hermes etc. Brand motivation and recognition are sky high.

  • by teg ( 97890 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @08:56AM (#29104305) Homepage

    (about luxury products)Maybe because those brands produce quality products?

    So do others. In this segment, quality is just a part of the overall package you are buying. If you compare a Timex and a Patek Philippe, they probably show the time equally well.

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:03AM (#29104373) Journal

    The Japanese aren't brand-motivated. They are quality-motivated. That's why Japanese cars are boring but last forever.

    That's wrong. If you had spoken to a British or American consumer at the time of Japanese automotive boom, you would have found that they are just as quality motivated as the American consumer. And had you spoken to American or British or Italian automotive makers, you would have found some of them wanted quality but were just slightly misinformed as to how they should attain it.

    As someone who's taken a course on this, we got the Japanese invention known as The House of Quality [harvardbusiness.org] pounded into our heads. It's basically a far superior way [wikipedia.org] to "define relationship between customer desires and the firm/product capabilities." The Japanese invented this, I don't know the exact origins (wish I did) but instead of it ended up as some weird business process patent it ended up being used by everyone over there. As a result, their cars didn't leak oil (like the British motorcycles) and they didn't slowly reject every screw that was holding them together. I'm sure the Japanese had many more tools at analyzing the engineering aspects of cars but the fact of the matter is that their engineering and quality control practices just exceeded anything anyone else had (if anyone else had quality control at the time).

    Americans look for cool things, which is why American cars are flashy and muscular but also break down constantly and have terribly assembled trim.

    This seriously got moderated up? Have you ever been to Tokyo? Have you seen how flashy that city is? Have you ever seen Japanimation, Japanese commercials or game shows? Flashy is all I can think of to describe that.

    Your cultural stereotypes humor me. But I think you're suffering from some serious misinformation and anecdotes to which I could provide counter-anecdotes all day long. But both stances are merely an exercise in futility.

    They knew, unlike the dopes who lick Steve Jobs' nutsack here in the US, that it was crap the moment they laid hands on it.

    Well, if they laid hands on it, they've already purchased it and that's a win for Apple. Or are you saying that the (virtually) same reviews each culture read influenced them differently? The Japanese have more options than we do and they had things that were better than the original iPhones. Those weren't really marketed in America. The iPhone wasn't crap compared to what 90% of Americans were already using. That's the important point, not that American consumers are any stupider or smarter than Japanese consumers.

  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:04AM (#29104387) Journal

    Indeed, although it's just as much a pro-Apple agenda that spread the news: if people don't like a product, it's much better if you can dismiss it as an irrational hatred, rather than considering the possibility that they might *gasp* actually prefer other phones.

    For this news, I'd be curious to see market share. Since Apple only have one phone, and Nokia etc have loads of different products, looking at single phone sales whilst useful in some contexts, is not useful for judging who's number one (it's the multiple choice fallacy where votes get split between similar products).

    There's also the obvious point that the phone has only just been released - it's misleading to claim "Number One", since this is a figure based on one month's sales, not quarterly or yearly, let alone total phones in existence.

    And since the Iphone is the only phone that gets covered on Tech sites like Slashdot (god knows why), it's not surprising that they'll do fairly well. I fear we'll have a self-fulfilling prophecy where we end up with it being the most popular phone, precisely because of the coverage solely on this one phone. And then we'll end up with a monopoly platform on mobile platform that's more locked down and controlled by a single company. Nice one, Slashdot!

    For all we know, those other phones may have been number one (indeed, one of them must have been), but we wouldn't have heard about it on Slashdot.

    Consider - what was the Number One phone, last month in Japan, and why wasn't there a story about it? Or the Number One phone in the US, come to that? It's only news if it's unusual.

    Of course I'll probably be modded down now for providing possible explanations that don't fit in with the pro-Apple viewpoint here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:10AM (#29104459)
    "How is this a troll?"

    It can be interpreted (with a bit of imagination and bad English comprehension) as a Apple negative post.
  • Re:Obvious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:26AM (#29104637) Journal

    Thanks for the info - I had no idea that phones could do some of these things.

    See, these are the sorts of things it would be good to hear about on tech sites. Instead, I'll probably hear about them in five years' time when it gets added to the Iphone...

  • by riegel ( 980896 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:01AM (#29105049) Homepage

    Since Apple only have one phone, and Nokia etc have loads of different products...

    You didn't read the summary. It plainly states that the 16GB iphone is number 9. That would indicate 2 things

    1. Apple has more than one phone being looked at
    2. Nokia phones are looked at individually also
  • by jparker ( 105202 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:23AM (#29105395) Homepage

    I don't have any evidence, but if I had to guess I'd say that it's the app store that made the difference. The app store is truly transformative, in many non-obvious ways.

    It brings network effects to the phone. For a while it seemed everyone I knew had a RAZR, but the popularity of the phone added no value to the individual user. With the iPhone, however, the popularity of the phone brings increased developer attention, which the app store translates to improved functionality, creating a positive feedback loop. Friends will also recommend apps to each other, further creating a network effect, and reminding the non-iphone-owning friends what they're missing.

    The app store brings the best form of lock-in Windows ever had - But will it run my apps? - to the phone. Suddenly no non-iPhone can be a true upgrade, since you will likely lose some of your app functionality. Common things, like interfaces for major social sites, etc., will likely be standard, but everyone will have a different set of apps they consider crucial, which will make upgrading difficult. The breadth of the app store has brought the long tail to the phone. It also allows people to be very picky. I spent a several weeks testing out various todo lists on the iPhone, and I won't be happy to change phones unless it has a todo list that meets the very specific criteria I developed.

    Certainly other phones will soon have access to app stores of their own, but the huge lead that Apple now has will make it very hard for someone else to catch up. They'll tout how they don't have the same approval headaches that the iPhone does, and that openness will be great. But we don't have to look far for lessons on how the popular operating system can be vastly inferior, yet still more successful than competitors.

    The iPhone app store sets the iPhone up to succeed for all the reasons that Windows has. I think it's going to take a significant technology leap or other serious market disruption to stop them at this point. Regardless of how you feel about Apple, you have to respect the the way they've played this.

  • Re:Obvious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blitzkrieg3 ( 995849 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:04AM (#29105921)
    The market doesn't work like that. People flock to the features that they want most, not the features that you deem are the most useful. For example, everyone in Japan is already using swipe payment, in spite of the fact that you think it is "retarded". This is a selling point for almost every smart phone but the iPhone.
  • Re:Gaming (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xkhaozx ( 978974 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:09AM (#29105985)
    Contrary to what? Having screen estate completely removed for some buttons?
  • by KNicolson ( 147698 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:17AM (#29106083) Homepage

    The company does not survey the carrier's own shops, which are major players in the Japanese cellphone market. In addition, number three, the Panasonic 830P is an almost one year old phone (last year's winter model) since superceded by two newer Panasonic phones, and the Casio W63CA is similarly an ancient (in Japanese terms) model.

    Thus, to anyone who knows about the Japanese mobile phone market (such as anyone who reads my blog [whatjapanthinks.com]) the survey results are obviously biased towards bulk retailers and the people who frequent them rather than to the average Taro who frequents the carrier's own store on the High Street.

  • by maharb ( 1534501 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:01PM (#29106711)

    I don't know if its just me but you seem to be implying that the iPhone has become popular because of articles about it. I think there are articles about it because it is a good phone that is popular. People like to read about things they like and buy and thus its easy to get high readership on an article about a something that people love. I want an iPhone but not because of articles. I want it because in my opinion it's the best 'phone'(palm top) out there. It may not have the most features and blackberry's may have more and better features but blackberrys lack the usability that the iPhone delivers.

    You talk about a fallacy in your second sentence so you should know it is a fallacy to assume that the articles are creating the popularity and not the other way around. You don't know which caused which and you are just assuming the one that fits your position. Could it be that this article was written because of the previous article claiming Japan hated the iPhone (omfg negative press about the iPhone, that can't happen under your assumptions)? If the previous hate article didn't exist then this article wouldn't exist. Find a article about Japan hating Nokia then you can ask why there wasn't an article about Nokia. You are comparing Apples to oranges.

    I have the iPod Touch and I think it may be one of the greatest devices I have used, when I have wifi, and it is still lacking many of the iPhones features.

    So while you may be right about the iPhone sales in Japan, I think you are wrong about this so called Apple conspiracy. It's not everyone's fault that Apple makes some great products. It's not just marketing that gets people to buy millions of units of something as expensive as an iPhone.

    Have you even tried using other phones and comparing them to the iPhone? All the 'iPhone killers' I have used are unbearably clunky and lack everything that makes the iPhone popular while only technically including the same features.

  • Re:Obvious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pikoro ( 844299 ) <initNO@SPAMinit.sh> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:05PM (#29106757) Homepage Journal
    Actually, take a walk through the Tokyo train station some time. about 90% of the people there are swiping their phone over the turnstiles to pay for their ticket. Also, you can walk up to a vending machine and touch your phone to it and your item is paid for. The TV and radio feature in japanese phones is due to the train rides that everybody deals with. You'll see probablly 90% of the people on trains (that aren't sleeping anyways) are listening to something via headphones attached to their cell phone.

    Here in Japan, your cellphone is your laptop, music player, tv, radio, business card swapper, credit card, train ticket, spare change, book reader, book writer, little black book, job finder, digital camera, bar code scanner, web browser, stopwatch, regular watch, audio note taker, status symbol, etc... oh, and you can call people with it too.

    hence why all phones here have so many features. take a cell phone away from your average japanese person and they would be a lost, clueless, introverted mess.
  • No they don't... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Estanislao Martínez ( 203477 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:05PM (#29108797) Homepage

    If you compare a Timex and a Patek Philippe, they probably show the time equally well.

    Actually, a cheap quartz Timex is more accurate than a Patek Philippe, or any other mechanical watch. People don't buy mechanical watches for accuracy.

  • by gig ( 78408 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @05:51PM (#29111935)

    This is the first time the iPhone has been #1 in Japan. That is the news story. Usually a Japanese phone is #1. So this is man bites dog. That makes it news.

    Also, Apple is selling more than a million iPhones every week, in almost 100 countries. The iPhone is news.

    > Of course I'll probably be modded down now for providing possible explanations
    > that don't fit in with the pro-Apple viewpoint here.

    Slashdot has a pro-Apple viewpoint? You are out of your mind as well as exhibiting the emotional maturity of a small child. Slashdot is rabidly anti-Apple. What seems to you to be too much and too-positive Apple coverage is actually minimal Apple coverage and most of the time the articles are based on trolling.

    Here in this article we see the poster commenting that this story contradicts an earlier story. Well, the earlier story was a complete troll, there was no truth to it. That is the typical Slashdot Apple coverage.

    The iPhone earned its success honestly. At $99 it is the cheapest smartphone and almost 90% of users give it their highest satisfaction rating. People go out of their way to buy it, and they're glad they did. Get over it.

  • by jparker ( 105202 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @08:46PM (#29113451) Homepage

    Really? Palm had an App Store? I had a Palm V, VII, and a first-gen Treo, and I never saw a centralized place to buy a wide variety of apps. There were a few, scattered sites that each sold their own product, and a few boxes (mostly office-lite, Tetris, and Bejeweled) at the big box stores, but that was all I ever ran across.

    Palm may have had thousands of apps, but without a centralized distribution mechanism, an individual user only ever saw a tiny fraction of those. Where they did find them, sure, a Palm can be just as sticky as an iPhone. To get anecdotal, my father clung to his palm forever because of a few key reference programs he used as a physician. Changing to any phone without those apps would cost him a significant amount of money, so he held off upgrading until he could get an iPhone, which has equivalents.

    I think that having crucial apps worked out great for Palm, they just didn't work it enough. And spent a lot of time and money shooting themselves in the foot, face, and anything else handy, which didn't help.

  • by alantus ( 882150 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @08:57PM (#29113519)

    Softbank to Softbank SMS works, its even free.
    However, there is no SMS between operators, you can send them but they are silently ignored.

    Most japanese phones don't even have an SMS menu item anymore.

  • Re:What, really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by alantus ( 882150 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:10PM (#29113603)

    The other day my friend was showing off his iphone with some silly 3D games.
    Later when we tried to send mp3 files through bluetooth, his iphone couldn't do it, but I've done it many times with other phones.
    Either their bluetooth implementation is incomplete, or it is intentionally crippled.

    If it had full working bluetooth, microSD slot, exchangeable batteries, and a better application distribution policy, I would think about buying one.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong