Monday, June 23, 2008

"Why the iPhone will not have a big hit in Japan"

Few reasons why iPhone 3G will not be a hit in Japan:

  • Lack of "1seg"
    The digital TV transition is not an issue only in the U.S. but also in Japan. However, in Japan, the transition is near completion and a service called "one-segment" allows digital broadcasts viewable on mobile devices. Did you think AQUOS was all about huge flat-panel TVs? See the AQUOS mobile phone. BTW, SoftBank is the main carrier for this phone which also is for the iPhone.

  • Lack of physical keypad
    Japanese is among the many other language groups forced to use the typical QWERTY keyboard on computers. There are thousands of unique characters compared to the relatively simple 26-alphabet English; although many are stuck with it, QWERTY never makes sense as an input method. Now, many, especially young ones, in Japan are finding that the 10-key pads on the phones are actually easy to use combined with technologies such as T9. It's unbelievable but true.

  • Lack of "Emoji" (A set of emoticons on Japanese mobile phones)
    This is just an assumption, but I don't think the iPhone will include these characters. Although these are just emoticons, for the young Japanese, it is part of their language culture and they use intensely. I mean really intensely. A sample from SoftBank.
    Left-double-quote + Paper Emoji (part of the rock-scissors-paper collection) =  is supposed to look like a waving hand meaning good-bye.

  • Lack of "Osaifu-Keitai"
    Until a few years ago, Japan seemed to be behind in payment system infrastructure. The use of credit cards were just not part of Japanese people's life. But they did make a big leap and went way ahead. With a mobile phone, you can buy a soda from a vending machine as well as use it as a boarding pass for your flight to Tokyo. You think that's crazy? Well, they are!

  • Total lack of "cuteness"
    Japanese females are all about cute stuff. The iPhone just won't appeal to them. It's not cute...

The mobile phone market in Japan is very unique. You won't see Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, models seen in the U.S., but see NEC, Sanyo, Panasonic, Sony, everything only released in Japan. The expectations are different, so obviously the available features are too along with the culture entirely. Apple is targeting consumers first which is smart, but that has been the case in Japan and the iPhone is just not appealing. "It just won't work."

I am saying that the iPhone 3G July 11th edition won't be a hit in Japan. It may still have a small sales. Furthermore, this is just my opinion. So don't complain if you don't like it.

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