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iPhone Hype in Japan

July 10th, 2008

It’s a pretty interesting phenomenon here. The line at the Omote-Sando store is now huge, with more than a thousand people in line by now–some reports say 1500, and thousands more expected by tomorrow. Seriously, it’s a Festival environment there, looks just like cherry-blossom viewing or something. Tarps laid out, people drinking beer, the whole nine yards. Masayoshi Son, the head of SoftBank and a bit of a celebrity, is on the line shaking hands and stuff. Here’s the Twitter blog of a guy who got in line a few hours ago, and he’s about 850th in line.

TV and press reporters are all over the place there, and it’s becoming a pretty big media event. Sachi has a news show called ‘Zero“ on, and they had a pretty long segment on it, which included a live report from the flagship line, some demoes of an iPhone they got their hands on, and reports on stuff like the relationship between carriers and cell phone makers–how the makers are usually at the mercy of the carriers, but the iPhone is leading the carriers around by the nose.

Frankly, their handling of the phone was surprisingly clumsy, as if they had just been handed the thing for the first time (which it probably was). For example, they showed the Calculator app, but didn’t turn it on its side; they showed photos, but did not pinch to show zooming. They didn’t even try out maps, one of the most impressive features. They just turned stuff on and looked at it without actually doing anything; for example, they turned on the calendar and just sat there looking at a completely blank list, no appointments. Pretty lame.

But they are playing up the phone itself; this one show had a ticking clock showing how much time remains until the first one is sold. Pretty funny.

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