Home > Focus on Japan 2008, Mac News > SoftBank, Day 2

SoftBank, Day 2

June 11th, 2008

BiphnThe SoftBank store I pass on the way to work had iPhone posters up today, announcing the July 11 release date–and pretty much nothing else. You can go inside and put in a reservation for a phone, but I have a feeling that is mostly for SoftBank to (a) gauge interest in the new product, and (b) get new phone numbers and email addresses for their mailing lists. You give your name, mobile number, email address, and what model you want.

But the guy behind the counter will not promise a thing–not even that the application will reserve an early purchase for you. That’s the hope, he’ll tell you, but there’s no guarantee. No price yet, but the guy seemed to think that it was unlikely that the iPhone would be subsidized, and thought that a 50,000 yen (about $500) price was more likely than not. He wouldn’t even say if the usual member plans would apply to the iPhone. It seems that they are trained to say that nothing is certain, assume the worst, and maybe people could be pleasantly surprised later on.

News reports say that the price point will be the same in Japan as it is overseas; this source says they will start at ¥20,000 yen, this one says that “prices in Japan have yet to be decided but they will be comparable to those overseas, according to sources close to the matter.” If this is true, then I’m getting the 16GB model and Sachi will probably get the 8GB one. But I doubt it’ll be ¥20,000; hardware almost never costs less in Japan than in the U.S. In fact, Apple hardware in Japan usually has a 5~15% surcharge over U.S. prices. $199 is ¥21,450 now, so I suspect that ¥23,500 (8GB) and ¥35,000 (16GB) is not too much to expect at the low end.

Th guy at the Softbank store did say that about seventy people had signed the forms for an iPhone at that location since they put the posters up that morning.

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  1. ykw
    June 12th, 2008 at 03:04 | #1

    Why spend $100 on another 8gb?

  2. Marc
    June 14th, 2008 at 15:48 | #2

    I wonder how Japanese-specific phone features will be implemented (if at all). Namely QR Codes, 1Seg, electronic Wallet function, Emojis and so on…

    I guess 1Seg (digital TV tuner) and electronic wallets are impossible because they would need hardware alterations. But Emojis and QR Codes could be added as software add-ons later ?

    Or will the iPhone be attractive enough in Japan without these features ?

  3. Luis
    June 14th, 2008 at 22:33 | #3

    YKW: I’ll be using tons of media, particularly video. 16GB won’t be enough–I really wish they had come out with a 32GB version. As it is, I’ll have to limit the amount of music I put on it (my collection is up to something like 12 GB), and have only certain videos, not a collection. Load up vids that I plan to watch in the near future, delete them as soon as I watch them. Maybe just build up a video playlist (are those possible?) and sync to that. I’ll also be using HandBrake a lot now, saving a good chunk of my video collection as iPhone-ready files.

    Marc: QR codes: already done, though as a jailbreak app–but you can bet that kind of thing will be in the AppStore real fast. Could be Emojis as well, though I don’t know if that would have to work at the system level to be available for core apps like email, messaging, etc. As for e-wallets, there seems to be some development there, but you say it requires hardware (some kind of chip?). Apple usually doesn’t customize their hardware for one country, so if special hardware is required, I don’t think that’s in the cards.

    As for whether it needs these features, I’ll say what I’ve said in lots of blogs and places: the iPhone is about the easy-to-use, slick interface, not the features. I took the train today–the only place aside from work where I can think it would make sense to watch TV on your cell phone–and saw no one using that. I never see my students, who almost all have keitai, using that feature either. My only real-world connection was one student who said her father uses the feature–while he sits in his living room in front of his full-size TV set.

    A lot of people do use electronic wallets–you can easily see the utility–but while they use emoji, I think they can survive without, and QR will ba available, probably as a free app.

    But my main point is that people will likely get the iPhone for other reasons–including the features the iPhone has which other phones don’t. Even aside from an easily-navigable menu system (ever tried to use the tiny little Windows menus on a cell phone? Egads!) and the tons of apps (most free) and the slick, stylish design, there’s the well-implemented touchscreen (few Japanese mobiles have that), visual voicemail (assuming they have it here), and the cheap MobileMe push connectivity. Probably more stuff I’m forgetting at this point.

    One thing that I have noticed–that when most people point out the features the iPhone doesn’t have, it is in the absence of the unique features it does have, and the fact that most other phones with the missing features often lack other features themselves. The Japanese phones that do have all the cool features cost even more than the iPhone–NTT’s F906i is, what, 55,000 yen or more? I’ve seen it, and I’m not at all impressed with its interface.

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