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Cellphones Businesses Apple

Why Japan Hates the iPhone 884

Posted by kdawson
from the one-man's-cool-is-another-man's-lame dept.
Ponca City, We love you writes "With a high level of technical sophistication, critical customers, and high innovation rate, Japan is the toughest cell phone market in the world. So it's not surprising that although Apple is the third-largest mobile supplier in the world, selling 10 million units in 2008, in Japan the iPhone is selling so poorly it's being offered for free. The country is famous for being ahead of its time when it comes to technology, and the iPhone just doesn't cut it. For example, Japanese handset users are into video and photos — and the iPhone has neither a video camera, multimedia text messaging, nor a TV tuner. Pricing plans in Japan are also very competitive, and the iPhone's $60-and-up monthly plan is too high compared to competitors; a survey lat year showed that among Japanese consumers, 91% didn't want to buy an iPhone. The cellular weapon of choice in Japan would be the Panasonic P905i, a fancy cellphone that doubles as a 3-inch TV and features 3-G, GPS, a 5.1-megapixel camera, and motion sensors for Wii-style games. 'When I show this to visitors from the US, they're amazed,' according to journalist Nobi Hayashi, who adds, 'Carrying around an iPhone in Japan would make you look pretty lame.'"
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Why Japan Hates the iPhone

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  • Re:What's new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rshol (746340) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:29AM (#27011261)
    Or maybe good taste is relative and not an absolute.
  • of course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:29AM (#27011265) Homepage

    The iPhone is inferior in lots of ways. It has NO stereo bluetooth support! It also lacks bluetooth IP networking for tethering to your laptop, and it doesn't use the standard USB mini-B cable.

    The iPhone needs a lot of improvement before I would consider it.

  • by TyrainDreams (982007) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:32AM (#27011307)

    Everyone still drools over the iPhone as if it has every feature of every phone and more! When it's just an on par smart device. Sure it has a lot of great features and the app store from apple, but there are far better phones in existence and its sure not going to get people who are being described as the peak of technological civilization(true or not).

    I am happy with my HTC Vogue, it plays music...and has internet...I think it even makes calls...oh wait its the sprint network...so no, no calls...

  • by fictionpuss (1136565) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:35AM (#27011341)

    Because we're at the behest of the phone companies, not the other way around. They can comfortably sit on technology, and decide when to release/market it for the most $$$.

    Then not only are you stuck with older technology, you're locked out of exploiting that technology to its fullest extent, by the same companies who have a secondary market peddling crappy closed source software.

    Roll on OpenMoko.

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:38AM (#27011399) Journal

    ...seriously, why don't people just either burn their money or donate it directly to Apple? No flash? No Java? Apple decides whether or not someone can sell/distribute an application? Have to buy a Crapintosh to develop for it?

    Why do people accept this kind of behavior from Apple, but not other companies? Weird...

  • Pretty lame? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kimvette (919543) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:41AM (#27011429) Homepage Journal

    "'Carrying around an iPhone in Japan would make you look pretty lame.'"

    God, how I wish I could get that Japanese cellphone with built-in 3" TV (Panasonic P905i) because I've always chosen cellphones out of regard of what Japanese teenagers might think of me! :-p

    Sorry, I'll just stick with the iPhone, and upgrade to a phone based on Android when it matures. I would have love to have gone with an openmoko phone but that platform was pretty much stillborn. :(

    Japanese cellphones are way way ahead of ours? Next thing you know, you'll be telling us that third-world countries have faster interweb access than we do - without bandwidth caps. This is old news.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:41AM (#27011431)

    Two things.

    First, they have a completely locked down, proprietary phone network, where it is absolutely impossible to do anything without express permission from the network operator.

    Second, have you tried using a piece of Japanese consumer electronics? They're absolutely terrible. While the Japanese can handle electronics pretty well, they have no clue at all about user interface design, and their culture values having fifty million features crammed onto a device with none of them being slightly useful over having a device that does a few things very well.

  • Re:of course (Score:3, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:41AM (#27011435) Homepage

    It has NO stereo bluetooth support! It also lacks bluetooth IP networking for tethering to your laptop, and it doesn't use the standard USB mini-B cable.

    *shrug*, when I look for a phone none of these things are even a consideration for me. I don't use bluetooth for anything and I really don't care about what USB cable is used as long as I can transfer what I need to the device quickly.

    Personally there are plenty of choices out there in phones because people have different needs and tastes. The iPhone isn't anywhere near the perfect mobile device (actually far from it) but it does what it does very well. I am a mass transit rider and I love the video/music player and the web browser. I used to own a T-mobile Sidekick and I really miss the keyboard on that device as well as the background application running. It's been difficult for me to get used to the fact that I am not available on AIM 24/7 wherever I am.

    You take the good with the bad and you weigh your options before choosing your device. I decided that the media component of the iPhone was far superior to other devices I tried and that was more important to me on my commutes, especially after a 5.5" of snow falls after 12 PM in Minneapolis crushing the roadways during rush hour.

    YMMV.

  • by Jacques Chester (151652) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:42AM (#27011443)

    The Japanese are buying a list of features: screen size, TV, radio, motion sensors, pedometer, email, circle of protection etc etc. A lot of tech-heads in the West like that approach and also make their decision based on the number of ticked boxes on the back of the display container.

    The rest of us just want a phone that makes phone calls without having to click through 50 damn menus. And that looks kind of nice. That's the iPhone.

  • Re:Proof (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thedonger (1317951) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:47AM (#27011497)

    Maybe we just need stop believing that we all must have a cell phone and stop buying the crap about which you are complaining? Or we all buy stripped down, inexpensive models with basic plans.

    What you may not be factoring in is that the vast majority of the American cell phone-buying public thinks the iPhone is the greatest thing since sliced bread. They don't care about Linux, and they don't know what Japan is doing outside of their anecdotal awareness that the Japanese are very tech-savvy.

    If you want the government to force cell phone companies and carriers to do anything it will cost you tax dollars - probably a greater amount relative to the time you will have to wait for the cell phone companies/carriers to come to your awareness in their own time.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:48AM (#27011509)

    It's totally true... their gadgets are indeed bleeding edge, but American consumers wouldn't put up with the buggy nature of their gadgetry. We eventually get much of the same stuff, after the Japanese public has been kind enough to beta test it for us :)

    By the way, even by slashdot standards... this is REALLY old news. Forbes was claiming the iPhone was doomed in Japan [forbes.com] over a year ago. If it succeeded despite all of that, well THAT would be some news.

  • Re:of course (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Flaggday (1373017) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:55AM (#27011583)
    The USB mini-B cable may be "standard", but the iPod dock connector is plentiful. Check households, office desks, backpacks, and I bet you'll find it much easier to locate a dock connector than a USB mini-B to anything.
  • Makes me wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:58AM (#27011633)

    Although the Japanese and a number of Asian countries are "ahead of us" (read USA) when it comes to technology, most Americans I know of still regard the USA to be the most technologically advanced country in the world. It baffles me.

    Just last week, I was in Shanghai and I can say that from the Magnetic Levitation train to the technology that runs and manages public transit, those folks are way ahead of us.

    When I rode the subway in New York on return to USA, you could not blame me for thinking I am in a country of the fifties. What's happened to the USA?

  • by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:04AM (#27011721) Homepage

    Japan has its own Reality Distortion Field.

    One that makes Jobs' RDF look like that worn-out magician at the street corner that never manages to get any of his lame tricks right.

  • Re:What's new? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:04AM (#27011727)

    I have a one-word rebuttal:
    iDrive [wikipedia.org]

    To be fair, it's much better now... but WOW, what a price to pay for a spartan dashboard!

    Also, you have to consider that the market for the Honda Civic in no way overlaps with any German car. Even the Volkswagen marketing doesn't really overlap too much. The street racing crowd is not going to be showing off too many Rabbits or Jettas.

    But I agree with you and think the VW Rabbit dash [rankingsandreviews.com] looks better than the Civic dash [rankingsandreviews.com]. Mostly I object to the silvery trim, but most of what I see is that VW cost-cuts by using a symmetric dash where they can just plop the driver's side gear for left or right-hand drive. The Honda is clearly designed for left-hand only. I can certainly see how people who desire a bit more bling would like the Honda.

  • Re:of course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:05AM (#27011737)

    But it always goes back to the original iPod review on /.
    "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

    There is a schism between the features crowd and the functions well crowd. Apple bridges that well enough for the American market to come up with products people really want. But the problem has always been the solely American-centric focus. Japanese and many other markets don't have the same tastes. Perhaps the Japanese are more toward the features side and are techy enough not to worry about seamless integration (I have no idea).

    Let's face it: the killer app on the iPhone are two things: seamless integration among components (hardware/software) and now the App Store - giving you thousands of capabilities that competitors don't have now (but easily can). (Balmer: Developers, developers, developers!!!)

    But you can't go into foreign markets with the exact same thing, prices, etc and expect not to be completely beaten up. Just like most domestic US cars are unsellable almost everywhere else: they are simply too big in both exterior and motor size.

    Apple is a design house. It's problem is that it is so centralized and secretive, it's hard for it to compete in other markets. It needs design houses in other countries to start competing elsewhere. And be willing to individualize their approach to regions/countries.

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:09AM (#27011805)

    Japan's culture of usability is "different" from ours to say the least.

    Having worked in the electronics industry, I can tell you that Japanese users place high value on features and technical complexity. Mastering a technically complex device is viewed as an accomplishment.

    Look at some of the electronics designed for the Japanese market - rows and rows of tiny buttons, incomprehensible menus, difficult to read displays; then look at electronics designed for the US market - touch screens, big legible fonts and buttons, simple - easy to navigate menus.

    (Most of) western society places a high value on ease of use over functionality. Apple does very well in those markets. Japanese culture is very detail oriented and places value on technical complexity and function.

    It's a culture thing, and Apple needs to understand that if they want to succeed in the Japanese market.

    -ted

  • by Aladrin (926209) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:10AM (#27011807)

    Immune to Apple's, maybe... But I'm sure they've got plenty of their own.

  • Re:of course (Score:3, Insightful)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:14AM (#27011857) Journal

    You can "design" until you are blue in the face but in the end of the day a 2 pound bag of shit with a pink bow tie is still a 2 pound bag of shit.

    People's feelings will not change just because you changed your name from Diebold to Premier Election services or whatever they're called now.

  • Re:Proof (Score:4, Insightful)

    by steelfood (895457) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:14AM (#27011861)

    Cell phones in asia are less tools, and more fashion statements. They're like your designer handbags or fancy shoes, except priced at a point even teenagers would be able to and do afford multiple phones. And because the major networks are GSM, people can easily switch phones to match their current attire with a swap of a SIM card. This means there's insane competition in Japan, and it means there's a huge drive for continuous innovation to stay ahead of the fashion curve (it's fashionable to be tech-competent over there). To even begin to do that here, the government needs to do a few relatively minor, but important things:

    1) Encourage open infrastructure. Basically, undo everything the FCC has been doing for the past 8 years. If a government grant was used to build a network, then the operator should be forced to lease the network to a third party for wholesale prices. Or, put network operators in the same class as gas and electric companies, and heavily regulate them.

    2) Encourage open standards within the government. The government should encourage standardization based on open standards. It should give grants to organizations that work towards such ends, and stipulate that by taking government money, the result is public domain. That eliminates a lot of barriers to entry to a market.

    3) Return the rights to the people. That means outlawing anti-competitive exclusivity clauses and the likes. Forcing phone carriers to make their numbers portable was a great move. That trend of forcing interoperability has to continue. For example, France requires unlocked versions of phones to be sold alongside their locked version.

    4) Remove the teeth of patent trolls. The patent system needs to be significantly overhauled. As the system exists currently, patents stifle innovation, not encourage it.

    Doing this won't change the culture overnight. But I'm certain we'll start to see improvements within 5 years.

  • by beelsebob (529313) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:15AM (#27011867)

    Because all these articles are talking rubbish. Japan is not ahead of us here, they just don't want the same thing as us. I explicitly don't want a phone that's a 3" TV, I don't want a phone that's a 5 megapixel camera with a shit lens, I don't want a phone that's a video camera, I don't want a phone that can send MMSes (especially when it can send email).

    I want a phone that's simple to use, beautiful, and gets on with being a phone, which the iPhone is absolutely ideal for.

    p.s. I *definitely* don't want a phone shaped like hello kitty.

  • by foniksonik (573572) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:15AM (#27011873) Homepage Journal

    Does you phone sync your contacts, calendars and email OTA? Does it let you control your Media Center? Does it play 3D games?

    Can you take a photo of something and load it into an app where you can annotate it and then email it off?

    It's not about old/new technology.. it's about a platform that can be extended with a truly good interface that let's you do things... the iPhone isn't perfect but it is certainly one of the best mobile platforms ever created.

  • by Alinabi (464689) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:18AM (#27011917)

    They're very biased towards home-grown stuff.

    ...the iPod sells well in Japan...

  • Re:Proof (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vadim_t (324782) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:20AM (#27011955) Homepage

    The question we really should ask us isn't 'why is Japan so far ahead of us technologically', but rather 'why is Japan so far behind us in soft technologies?' You know, things like UI design, quality of life, etc?

    No, the question we should ask us is precisely "why is Japan so far ahead of us technologically". I want to know why they can have all that fancy stuff on their phones, and I can't. The question "why is Japan so far behind us in soft technologies?" is not for us, but for Japan. It's their problem, so it's them who should think about it. Why waste time on thinking why somebody else has a problem you don't?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:24AM (#27012001)

    In Japan, only old people use iPhones?

    No, the fact is that the iphone is a piece of crap that doesn't do anything special. It's a triumph of marketing.

    The only reason the iphone is popular in the US is that other US cell phone options are so crappy, but that's a reflection of what the US carriers are selling.

  • Re:of course (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:26AM (#27012041) Homepage Journal

    Let's face it: the killer app on the iPhone are two things: seamless integration among components (hardware/software) and now the App Store

    No, the killer apps are the tolerable music player that syncs with iTunes and the first decent small-screen web browser.

    (And why do you keep repeating this term "seamless integration"? If it were seamless, you wouldn't have to exit every application to run another, as if it were Palm OS, or DOS. That's a very big seam.)

  • by Xest (935314) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:26AM (#27012045)

    That would be a good theory were it true, but the fact is the US cell phone market has always been even further behind than just skipping the beta phase. Every time I'd visit and go into a shop selling mobiles I'd have to chuckle to myself at the stuff they were selling which was years behind what we had even in Europe, let alone Japan.

    This is why the original iPhone was a flop everywhere but the US (yes it was even a flop in Europe), people were looking at it and thinking what's the big deal when it's camera, it's memory, it's lack of custom apps, lack of MMS, lack of 3G, lack of GPS and so on made it a laughably poor device, whilst in the US it was pretty state of the art.

    Move forward to the iPhone 3G and Apple have realise their mistakes and have moved forward a bit, but as stated in the summary, the iPhone still lacks features that many in Europe and Japan have come to expect.

    The US is a world leader on most things, but cell phones are one of the few products the US was simply years behind on, often never even getting some of the high end Nokia models we enjoyed in Europe For example, did the US ever even get the Nokia 7650 in the end? a phone that in 2001 had a camera, could play Doom, browse the web, run Java apps- in fact, everything the original iPhone had minus touch screen but plus a whole bunch of other features (MMS, custom apps).

    Apple realised the mobile gap was in the US and took advantage of that, they couldn't compete immediately with the companies like Nokia that had been doing it years and the US gave them a place to get started without ever needing to do so. Once their foot was in the door they could fairly quickly move on with their technology to produce a phone that was a little more attractive in Europe/Japan, if they keep it up and keep going they'll do well.

    At the end of the day though, the summary comes as no suprise as it really is quite similar to the story here in Europe. It's not to slag Apple off, because if the US was as uptodate on mobile technology as Europe it's questionable whether Apple could've got it's foot in the door as easily as it did and more fool Nokia et. al. for not taking the opportunity to exploit the rather backwards US cell phone market themselves. I think this is also why the iPhone has the following it does, not necessarily because it's any better than other phones outside North America- it still lacks a lot of features European and Japanese phones have, but because it's a decent mid-range phone in Europe/Japan and more importantly, because it is light years ahead of much of what the US ever really had before it.

  • by DeadCatX2 (950953) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:27AM (#27012065) Journal

    Users and their expectations differ widely, as the article mentions. One set of users want a device to do a few things very well, and another set wants it to do everything even if that makes it more complicated. Being a hardware developer, I am of the latter mindset.

    Management is always on your ass to get the product out the door, generally as soon as it works. User interface considerations add greatly to the product latency, and if you have competitors you might not have the luxury of designing a good interface.

    Not all interfaces can easily be abstracted for human interaction. For instance, we like for one design component to have one purpose, but sometimes this isn't really tractable because we require more buttons than space permits, so we use "soft buttons". That is to say nothing of the desire for knobs, switches, jog wheels, and so on.

    There's also the 80/20 rule. Just because no one uses all of the features on a single phone doesn't mean that the all of the features aren't used regularly across all of the phones.

  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:28AM (#27012087) Homepage Journal

    i have a blackberry with built in gps

    the gps is disabled. why? because verizon wants me to buy their retarded cell phone tower triangulation location service for $10/ month. the gps chip is sitting right on my phone. free. locked. i downloaded the free gmail app (amazing they let me do that, huh?), and all i can do is a get a rough approximation of my location. i've got the hardware, on the phone, to get the free signal. and verizon won't let me

    fucking evil, fucking retarded. it does nothing, dear verizon, except fill me with a burning hatred for you

    now i can understand a cell company competing with the services of another cell company, and blocking this or that signal that is a PAID service

    but when they go out and start squashing well-established FREE signal services, WHEN THE HARDWARE TO GET IT IS ALREADY ON THE FUCKING PHONE, i begin to channel my inner communist. that is the most evil retarded bullshit there is. free market business practices at their most evil

    so i agree with you, i can see them blocking the free hdtv digital signals. 100% possible

    the only redoubt i can consider is that, being a free market, t-mobile, sprint, etc., should unlock free gps and unlock free tv signals, if they aren't already, and make a marketing bonanza on that fact

    you'd see verizon quickly lose customers, and quietly reverse their fucking evil shit sucking behavior

    they already lost me, i totally hate them for that, and have told them in no uncertain terms

    evil motherfuckers. blocking free gps in order to sell me their half assed triangulation service. the hardware is already built into THE DAMN PHONE you fucking asswipes

    die you sleazy shitsucking verizon, die

  • Re:Makes me wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Totenglocke (1291680) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:29AM (#27012103)
    What's happened? Our culture decided sometime in the 50's-60's that doing well in school was for losers. We've also developed a sense of entitlement and think everything should be low cost or free, regardless of how much it costs to manufacture or develop (a co-worker who complained about the "high gas prices" when gas was $1.50 a few weeks back comes to mind.......I think if gas was free she'd complain that we weren't being paid to take the gas!). The main reason behind people thinking we're the most technologically advanced country is the idiotic "God Bless America" / "We're #1" crap that tells people being born in the US somehow makes you special and you don't have to work as hard.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:31AM (#27012113)

    They should design their UI using the dumbest common denominator like the rest of the civilized world.

    It is were Apple shines and why their RDF was so effective.

    I'm reminded of why the drive selection was taken out of Vista's defragmenter application.

  • Re:of course (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:39AM (#27012237)

    Savvy? You mean obcessed with gimmicks.

  • by Chrono11901 (901948) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:39AM (#27012243)

    So they base there decisions on the features and ability's while Americans base theirs on how tard friendly the phone is?

    Considering how many people payed 5$ for the ifart app, you might be on to something.

  • by socsoc (1116769) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:48AM (#27012389)
    I do not want flash or java on my mobile. I don't even want them on my computer and my userbase doesn't have java until they request it. I don't have a business reason to support java (unfortunately some sales reps sell flash banner ads), and both have continual app updates which bothers my helpdesk because we have tried to instill into them not to install stuff without our permission. But a java or flash update every 2 weeks? It gets annoying.
  • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:51AM (#27012421)

    The Japanese cell market sounds a lot like the Korean market, which makes me think that it's not just "features instead of UI" that makes the Japanese dislike the iPhone, but instead the UI itself. In Korea, when someone wants to get a specific feature of his cell phone, which may be through several "ugly" list menus, he flips open the phone, takes about a quarter second to hit the memorized sequence of hotkeys for menu choices on his hardware keypad without looking at the phone, and by the time he gets it out of his pocket and up to his head the feature is waiting for him. An American with an iPhone will take five more seconds to navigate through pretty menus to get to the same thing. The iPhone looks more friendly and advanced, but the guy with the archaic lists navigates his UI 10x faster. Even Americans, at least the more techy ones, can get used to their phones to the extent that the UI which looks clunky to us at first actually _works_ much better for them than an iPhone's can.

  • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:19PM (#27012855)
    Thank God someone else feels this way. I'm so sick of people getting iPhones and then insisting on whipping them out and showing them off every three seconds. It's not that impressive, every douche already owns one. I've seen it a million times. No, I don't wish I had one. If I wanted one, I'd already have it. I just don't think it's worth the money. The summary alone says it all - no video? no MMS? My friend's free POS phone has that. It's a mediocre phone in a sexy package with a touchscreen. No surprise the Japanese aren't interested.

    PS - can we avoid turning this into a fanboy flamewar - just this once? I called it sexy...
  • by jav1231 (539129) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:26PM (#27012941)
    It's all relative and relative to the US market the iPhone is not a piece of crap. It's great to talk about the Japanese market, the cool gadgets, and how much better they are. But guess what? If we can't get/use them here it's irrelevant. No one seems the least bit interested in marketing them here. Does it suck? Sure it sucks but it's been this way for the last 10 years.
  • Re:What's new? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 2short (466733) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:45PM (#27013191)
    "Well, the saying didn't come from me, but I do find lots of truth in it."

    But you're misquoting it. It's "there's no accounting for taste"; You stuck the "bad" in there. The more common saying has a lot of truth in it, and expresses exactly what rshol said.
  • Re:Makes me wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:47PM (#27013223) Homepage Journal
    One thing to consider: Is that new technology there for showing off, or is it actually useful? Maglev trains have been tried a few times in the US, but they've always been considered too impractical for mass production. One thing you have to remember is that just because a technology looks cool and futuristic doesn't mean that it's necessarily better.
  • by BlackCreek (1004083) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:48PM (#27013239)
    I reckon that the iPhone is actually a good phone (if you disregard how expensive it is when considering the contract fees), but IMHO, it is indeed, first and foremost a triumph of marketing over all else.

    There are a bazillion of things that the phone lacks, specially if you consider its price. But then there is this group-think thing where people will convince themselves that they don't actually need whatever is lacking, and that they absolutely need whatever is there.

    People buy this phone for the same reason that other people buy luxury clothes: the promise of higher social status, and self-esteem through brand name identification.

  • Re:Makes me wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by asv108 (141455) <alex@pha[ ]dio.org ['tau' in gap]> on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:49PM (#27013273) Homepage Journal
    US taxpayers, most of which do not ride trains, do not want to pay for fancy trains they will never ride. Its a lot easier to spend trillions on public works projects in a totalitarian regime like China.
  • by noewun (591275) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:59PM (#27013443) Journal

    . . .they just don't want the same thing as us.

    True, and there are things about Japanese culture which make their cel phone market very different from ours. One of the biggest things is the way in which the Japanese commute to and from work: Japan has a much higher use of public transportation than does the U.S., and the Japanese are heavy users of rail travel. This means, according to the last figures I checked, the average Japanese working person has an hour commute to and from work which is, essentially, free time. Contrast this to the U.S., in which the majority of people drive to work.

    To me, this explains a lot of the Japanese demand for the use of video and TV on the cel phones, and from the cel phone networks: they have the time and inclination to use those services. Contrast this to the U.S., in which people have to (supposedly) concentrate on their driving; we have lots of talk radio here, something to listen to during that commute which requires no hands.

    Add to this all of the other commuting the Japanese do via rail and you have a market which just doesn't exist in the U.S. I think this holds true in Europe as well, which also has a higher incidence of public transportation use than the U.S. We drive here, a lot, and that niche just doesn't exist. Most Americans get their online TV and video either at work or at home. Which is to say that population and work patterns influence technology adoption and use as much as, or more than, GUI design and technical achievement.

    At least that's my theory.

  • by molarmass192 (608071) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:13PM (#27013665) Homepage Journal
    I disagree, the iPhone was the first to offer a touch screen based UI, a solid internet browser, a usable mobile calendar, and a viable iPod replacement. Is it the end all be all of cell phones, no. However, what made the iPhone so good was the software stack more than the hardware stack. The iPhone software stack is still by far the best on the market. The hardware is just slightly above average, but I (personally) think Apple did this to create an upgrade path. For example. want GPS? Upgrade from V1 to V2. Next will be, want video? Upgrade from V2 to V3 ... etc.
  • by Zero return (1244780) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:20PM (#27013761)

    Goodness--only 9% of people might want to buy an iPhone when Apple is looking for 1% of the market.

    What a disaster!

  • by dmizer (1081799) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:23PM (#27013809)
    How long ago did you live in Japan ... 10 ... 15 years ago?

    The P905i is already outdated. I've had mine for over a year now. Lots of the phones they have now make the P905i look like ancient tech. Motion sensors which rotate the clock display so it stays upright as you turn the phone 10Mpx cameras with touch screens for selecting your photo subject. 4 inch tv screens with multimedia capability that would make your head spin. You can record your favorite TV show while you're at work, bring your phone home, plug it into your TV and watch the show on the big screen. Complete webkit stack (Yes, that means you can become a walking web server).

    Seriously, you're iPhone sucks compared to what's out now.
  • I reckon that the iPhone is actually a good phone

    In my experience with mine, "phone" is one of the things it is definitively NOT good at.

  • by homejapan (1250680) <info@homej a p a n.com> on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:44PM (#27014123) Homepage

    I can't believe this - yet another "the iPhone failed in Japan" article with NO SALES DATA to support the claim. Maybe it is selling slowly here in Japan. Maybe flopping miserably. But why make that claim with no numbers to back it up? Get the numbers first!

    There are other reasons why Softbank might cut the price. End-of-season (that'd be now) goals. Inventory clearance for a new model. Or the biggest reason of all: a lousy economy. If the iPhone is sluggish in Japan, it's not the only thing; everyone from Toyota on down is bleeding money and laying off workers as sales slump for just about everything.

    Even in a good economy, maybe the iPhone wouldn't succeed here. Maybe it would. Sadly, without any data upon which to base intelligent comments, we're still going to get non-stop uninformed punditry about market potential and breathless unproven claims of "cultural differences".

  • by relguj9 (1313593) on Friday February 27, 2009 @02:32PM (#27014761)
    Eh, for me it was cheaper to get an iPhone, both phone wise and plan wise than a Blackberry or any other 3g capable device.

    I couldn't care less about MMS, I can upload photos to facebook or get stuff off of my e-mail.

    I also have no desire to watch videos, if I'm going to watch TV or a movie, it's going to be off of my DVR or computer on my 52" TV and 7.1 surround system on my comfortable couch with a beer, not on my tiny ass cell phone. Youtube, the internet and the app store provide more than enough instant entertainment if I'm stuck somewhere or bored.

    I have no need for turn by turn directions either, I actually prefer google maps + GPS.

    My biggest complaint about the iPhone is that you have to crack it to do certain things, like copy over ringtones.

    The iPhone doesn't suck, you're just being anti-trendy and generally pissed. I'm not a fan of trendy shit or Apple in general, but the iPhone is a pretty good device.
  • Re:I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by joNDoty (774185) on Friday February 27, 2009 @03:36PM (#27015673)

    As long as it was merely free, the item had no value. But once it was trash, it was worth having.

    I think that's because even if you claim you're offering something for free, there's still a feeling that they owe you. Whereas they owe a trash can nothing.

  • Re:Makes me wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Friday February 27, 2009 @03:55PM (#27016011)

    Geography:

    US is huge compared to Japan. So in Japan it's significantly easier to implement a high speed wireless network. This makes Japan the perfect test bed for new wireless technologies. Teenagers (regardless of the country) will buy anything trendy or gives the appearance that they are more advanced than their peers. Japanese teenagers in urban areas appear to have a large disposable income and the willingness to purchase the new "in" thing en masse. If I wanted to thoroughly test something wireless and high-tech I would introduce it in Japan first.

    The US has it's technological hotspots too. But it is only a small percentage of the US continent. So cool devices don't normally find it's way in the US market for mass consumption. However if you know where to look, you will find pretty nifty uses of technology but it's mostly in the business technologies instead of consumer tech.

    Age:

    The New York subway is considerably older than the Shanghai MagLev, and it would be costly and produce too much downtime to replace it with something that only gave a marginal ROI.

    Image:

    Don't forget some countries put a lot of money into "showcase technologies" (eg. very small bullet train lines, world's tallest skyscraper, etc.) to give the appearance that somehow their country is more "advance" than its neighbors. Unfortunately some of the countries that build these "showcases" have very oppressive governments.

    Perspective:

    When you live in the US, you are able to see the "warts". Bad news sells more papers. Teacher unions make it a point to always show need for more money. blah.. blah.. So you compare what you see while vacationing in other countries (which is always just the tip of the iceberg) with what you live in at home.

    Reality:

    We live in a global society. One day soon, political boundaries will become nothing more than regulation zones. I think this happened already, but for political reasons no one wants to admit this. I work and live with friends of different nationalities. I'll travel and work at locations outside the US. I chat and play with people from around the world thanks to the internet.

  • Re:I agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday February 27, 2009 @04:21PM (#27016369) Journal

    So, I tossed it into the trash barrel. It landed with a dull thud on top of a mountain of discarded plastic bottles and small electronics.

    *shudders* Do you realize how many cute, little, innocent kittens died on that horrible day?

  • by Knara (9377) on Friday February 27, 2009 @05:12PM (#27016979)

    Or, perhaps, maybe you should just know what you're talking about before hitting "submit"?

  • Re:Makes me wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert&chromablue,net> on Friday February 27, 2009 @05:22PM (#27017099)

    But if the old still works sufficiently well, there is little point in tossing it out in the face of trillion dollar deficits.

    We take this too far. This only leads to roads falling apart, major freeways that are potholed, bridges that collapse, viaducts that are cracking, the general rundown of our infrastructure, til we get to the point where there is nothing but to have massive injections of capital in order to make things safe, let alone state of the art.

    Everyone wants everything clean fresh and new. Then they're told they have to sacrifice something. Or that they might (shock) have to pay for it, and the "DONT YOU RAISE MY TAXES!" crowd starts chanting, and proposals get shot down, bridges collapse, people scream for blood, and the cycle repeats.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 28, 2009 @04:55AM (#27021465)

    I'm so sick of people getting iPhones and then insisting on whipping them out and showing them off every three seconds.

    you're sick of people making use of their phone and you're so egotistical you honestly believe they're just doing it to impress you? are you aware that the world does not revolve around you?

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