WW-175 -- iPhone Introduction in Japan

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Japan Inc Magazine Presents:
W I R E L E S S W A T C H

READ WIRELESS WATCH ONLINE AT:
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The Latest News From The Wireless Industry In Japan
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Issue No. 175 Wednesday July 2, 2008
Subscribers: 9467
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iPhone Introduction in Japan:
Apple’s next battle with the electronics giants

In July, SoftBank will introduce the long awaited iPhone.
Will the iPhone succeed in the Japanese market with so many
high-end phones being launched every year?

Almost all Japanese have a handset. An upcoming trend is that
people buy a second phone. They usually have one ‘simple’ cheap
phone for making phone calls and send emails, and one multimedia
high-end phone equipped with audio-visual and gaming features.
It is this high-end segment where the iPhone will be competing.

The Japanese electronics makers name their high-end phone after
their flat panel brand names: Sharp with Aquos, Panasonic Viera
and Sony Ericsson Bravia. Sharp’s Aquos line of phones is very
popular among SoftBank and DoCoMo users. These phones costs
about 800 US dollar without subsidy. Digital television (One
Seg) is gaining popularity. The Sharp phone has a digital video
capability, able to record up to 20 hours of television on a 4GB
MicroSD memory card. We see many people watching recorded TV in
the subway these days. To watch sports, the frame rate can even
be increased from 15 to 30 per second.

The camera functions of these phones are similar to the digital
cameras that were out in the market a year ago. Autofocus and 5
million pixels is becoming the standard for mobile phones.
Photos can be directly uploaded into mobile blogs. The Sharp
phone featuresa 29mm lens to make wide angle photos.

KDDI has extended the LISMO music service (similar to iTunes) to
video downloads. Like Apple with iTunes, KDDI offers PC software
to download the videos and music, and synchronize it with the
phone. There are about 2,000 movie titles available in the Lismo
video service with a maximum price of 5 US dollar per title.

The Apple iPhone will have a good chance to become popular in
the Japanese market. SoftBank has priced the phone in the same
range as other high-end phones. As the iPhone has the same specs
worldwide, it lacks One Seg and Felica. Software applications
can be bought and downloaded from the Apple iStore, something
that Japanese mobile phone users are not used to. Like in other
markets, the friendly user interface will be the main
differentiating feature.

To sell more than 1 million iPhones in Japan, Apple cannot only
rely on SoftBank which has 19 million subscribers, less than 20%
of the market. It has to reach out to NTT DoCoMo as well – stay
tuned.

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