Thursday, October 30, 2008

Japanese iPhone Users Get Battery/TV Tuner Pack

October 30th, SoftBank, the Japanese iPhone carrier made some announcements on improvements in hope of boosting iPhone sales. The announcement took place at SoftBank's press release event of their 2009 mobile phone lineup. 

The CEO admitted that there are three flaws with the iPhone:

  1. Short battery life
  2. Lack of 1-seg (digital TV broadcast)
  3. Lack of "Emoji"; Japanese emoticons
It may seem hard to believe this in the U.S., but as I predicted, these are huge drawbacks for the Japanese market.

"TV & Battery" Pack

One of the big announcement was the "TV & Battery" pack for the iPhone.

Press release: 1-seg Viewable on the iPhone 3G!

This is a SoftBank genuine iPhone 3G accessory only for the Japanese market. Expected to be around $100 USD, this external miniature iPhone-looking device will weigh 80g and can provide one full battery charge.

And of course as the name implies, it is also a digital TV tuner. The iPhone will connect to this tuner via Wi-Fi and is viewable with a dedicated app yet to be released. It was mentioned that eventually TV shows will be recordable.


And as we already know, "Emoji" emoticons are expected to be supported by the end of the year. Interestingly, this announcement made the Emoji rumors now official and 2.2 software very likely to be release by the end of this year.

Free Wi-Fi

As just happened in the U.S., Japanese iPhone owners will also be provided with free Wi-Fi access nationwide.

Press release: Free "Unlimited Wireless LAN Access" for iPhone 3G Users

Beginning November 4th, the service will be provided through SoftBank's "BB Mobile Point" hotspots;  approximately 3,500 locations, mainly at McDonald's. Better yet, after December 1st, access will be granted without entering username and password as credentials.

Now, is this really going to boost iPhone sales in Japan? I don't think so. Apple designs are industrial and cool but not cute; Japanese people like cute stuff. Maybe targeting business users or SMB would be a good idea. Enterprise, probably not. Apple will need to bring NTT DoCoMo on board for that market.

I am starting to wonder if Apple will eventually release variations for better lineup. And how much influence the Japanese market will have on Apple.

Also see: MyCom Journal article on this event ; CNET Japan photo report (Japanese)

1 comment:

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