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

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:26AM (#27011225)
    Japanese products have been so over-the-top and over-engineered for the past 25 years, this hardly comes as any surprise. I mean, just take a look at the current Honda Civic dashboard and compare it to a German car's dashboard. The Honda is all gadget-y and digital-y and the German car is just, well, Teutonic-ly svelte. Maybe the saying "there's no accounting for bad taste" doesn't ring true in Japan.
  • Proof (Score:3, Interesting)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:29AM (#27011275)
    While I love the iPhone and think it's damn cool, things like this are (to me) just another piece of proof that the North American (and western society, in general) cell phone markets are set up to discourage innovation and advancement and are, instead, designed to ensure lock-in with particular vendors and suppliers. We _NEED_ regulators to step in and start putting companies in their places. That will open up innovation and encourage manufacturers to make better products to compete for consumer dollars. Also, regulators need to force carriers to provide better plans at reasonable rates. But, since a lot of people are getting rich off of the current stifling system, I won't be holding my breath for that sort of change to happen... We will continue to remain behind the times.
  • by GooberToo (74388) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:35AM (#27011351)

    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,'

    Android G1 owners wouldn't be "amazed". After all, it they are describing a G1.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:40AM (#27011417)

    I think it's more than that. In Japan, space is very constrained and most of the phones I saw there were flip phones. This gave the user a modicum of privacy, even on crowded transport. iPhones simply aren't made with that type of concern in mind.

  • Re:What's new? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:41AM (#27011427) Homepage Journal

    The Japanese seem to have a talent for doing everything to excess. Sometimes that's a good thing, such as when they decide to make something sleek and efficient. Then you get, say, the 1989 Nissan 240SX, with a .26 CD, 30 MPG freeway on 87 octane (the Japanese version probably does better, but on more expensive fuel) and some of the best handling ever seen in a sports car of its class. Other times they decide to gewgaw it up to the max, and you get any Sony Vaio product with buttons that fall off and shit. Er, do I have a bone to pick? Anyway the point is that you can find ample examples of both, but I think you're right about the electronics these days. Not that I can load the page that shows their favorite phone. Personally I just want a fucking eyetap built into some Oakley M-frames with photo-gray tint, and a discreet wearable computer so I don't look like a total tard at all times, and I want it to replace all of my computers or at least their current interfaces. What's better than a monitor with a privacy filter? No monitor, and no keyboard either. Then I can jerk around with my own virtual interfaces all I want.

  • by Moryath (553296) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:41AM (#27011439)

    Indeed.

    The Japanese make a mockery of WTO "free trade" regulations on a daily basis, but they get away with because they're a relatively small market compared to the US. By contrast, when some of us in the US suggest that maybe we should switch to "fair trade" that imposes tariffs on goods imported from places that have zero environmental protection laws and pay out slave-labor wages (to even the playing field), we get shouted at about "protectionism."

    The Japanese also have a major cultural complex about what is "true japanese." If you have one grandparent who wasn't born in Japan (or worse yet, isn't ethnically asian), it doesn't matter that your family may have been there for 75 years, as far as they are concerned you're still a gaijin. If you're there for tourism, grand, but trying to live there and get employment, or even someday fit into Japanese society as a gaijin? Might as well forget it unless you're going to be an Engrish teacher [engrish.com] (and even then, the "natives" will get promoted above you every time).

    American and European products? Well, that's gaijin stuff.

  • by ribuck (943217) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:42AM (#27011449) Homepage
    Take a look at this video of the Panasonic P905i. At first it looks like it has a similar form factor to the Android G1, until they morph it from a slider to a flip-phone and pull out the digital TV aerial. Seriously cool!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6J5EtiQ1ps [youtube.com]
  • Text messaging? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Goaway (82658) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:45AM (#27011473) Homepage

    multimedia text messaging

    Japan has never even used "text messaging" as in the horribly lame and limited SMS - they use normal email for that. I don't think anybody is missing some kludgy extension to a protocol they never used in the first place, either.

  • by blackchiney (556583) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:48AM (#27011513)
    Japan is unique in the fact that it's a sizeable market. Most western companies have attempted to market products there and failed. The only market that does well is American and European fashion.

    I think this has to do with a little bit of NIH (not invented here) and poor understanding of the country. Hell even Microsoft with billions of dollars sunk into the XBox marketing can't make a dent there and there is only 2 competitors. On the other hand Sony did so poorly in the international mobile market they had to team up with Ericcson to bail them out. Product marketing in Japan is like the LOST bubble. We can't seem to get in and they can't seem to get out.
  • by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:50AM (#27011545) Homepage

    We don't get these kinds of telephones in Europe or the US because the... Wait for it... They...

    SUCK!

    No, seriously, they absolutely suck. I've been using the phones here for a few years, and one of the main features they have is that they're an implementation of a checklist of features you'll never use more than one or twice, all crammed into the least user-friendly UI you could imagine.

    They have absolutely no sense of UI design, and being so used to dealing with crappy interfaces they're not even aware of the possibility nor the advantages of a well designed one. Seriously, have you ever looked at one of their webpages?

    Call it taste, or what ever. But the reality is that the iPhone and phones from e.g. Nokia just don't do it well here in Japan, and neither of the two companies should try to change or they'll lose what gives them customers in the west.

    Oh, and BTW... Softbank's (particulary their iPhone's) subscription plan sucks.

  • by SilverJets (131916) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:57AM (#27011613) Homepage

    While your argument does hold some merit to the "discrimination" against foreign products the most likely reason for the iPhone hate is that it does not function the way most Japanese people need it to. When I was in Tokyo last year, for every 10 people I saw using a cell phone 9 of them were texting and most of them had a flip phone. In fact I found the size of the phones to be quite funny because they looked like the early flip phones...very large.

    Having seen and played around with an iPhone I can see why it would not appeal to people who just text with their phone. Especially when riding on a train so that you are holding on to the railing with one hand and texting with the other. Also, the keyboard on the iPhone takes up screen space. Why would you want to lose a lot of the screen to a touch keybpad when you can get a phone that has a separate screen and keypad?

  • by malice (82026) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:00AM (#27011667) Homepage

    The Panasonic P905i wouldn't appeal to me at all. I really don't think of a cell phone that doubles as a portable TV is particularly innovative; I think it's rather sad.

    I saw this all over Japan, people watching TV on the subway... and meanwhile the Internet access and web capabilities of this phone, and others in Japan, are quite poor relative to what the iPhone or G1 can do.

    I'm sorry, but being able to watch live TV on a cell phone is not "OMG, it's so advanced, I want it" in my book.

  • by NinjaCoder (878547) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:05AM (#27011733)
    My Nokia N96 has a tv decoder built-in (for the new DVB-H standard). However, in all the countries I have travelled to in Europe since I got it, only in Finland (in Turku) could I actually get channels.
  • Re:Proof (Score:1, Interesting)

    by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:13AM (#27011851)

    You know, it's really funny, these pleas for the government to step in and make your life better.

    Modern governments are, at their core, democratic (don't give me that Republic spiel, that's less true today than it ever was and the base of all republics is democracy anyway) and require at least plurality action to get a certain thing done.

    Whereas, stuff like the cell phone market being stuffy is directly the result of lazy consumers--the same people that are also the only ones that can really enable change by electing politicians that will change things.

    Politicians are also beholden to special interests, and in any case, whenever a politician does anything it is setting a normative value for other people and--maybe I'm too conservative-I don't see that as all a good thing.

    If consumers want to change the market, they should stop ENABLING the market. Nobody is making you buy a shitty cell phone. You want it, you think you need it, so like a heroin addict needing a fix you keep on taking your poison, enabling the same thing you rally against. The modern citizen, the modern consumer, is perhaps one of the stupidest organisms on Earth. Spending resources on things they recognize as being shit, all the while hoping some karmic force sets about righteousness in the world, is not my idea of an intelligent, effective way to use your resources.

    Of course, it's far too easy to just want God or Government to descend down from above and make everything better and force everyone to do exactly what you personally feel should be done.

    Apple is often an offender of this. They heavily market the hell out of their above-average-but-overpriced products, and people buy them, unaware and apathetic that better things exist for cheaper.

    Quit blaming the fucking "CORPORATIONS!!!" and stare into the fucking mirror for a change. It's easy to blame the drug dealer for the addict's habits but ultimately it's the addict that keeps coming back for more and is the one that can stop the self-destructive cycle.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:21AM (#27011965) Journal

    >>>American consumers wouldn't put up with the buggy nature of Japanese gadgetry.

    Or the incessant obsolescence. Buy a MUSE analog HDTV in 1990, and have it obsoleted ten years later (broadcasts discontinued). Buy an Enhanced Definition Betamax around the same timeframe, and watch it go belly-up in 2003. Invest heavily in karaoke laserdiscs, and watch them be discontinued so you can no longer play your huge library.

    There are advantages to waiting - like saving money not investing in doomed products.

    Also I think obsessing about shiny new toys is not healthy - but that's just my own personal opinion. While it's true the Japanese had access to ED Betamax, and American consumers did not, I think we survived just fine. It was no great loss.

  • by iocat (572367) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:29AM (#27012101) Homepage Journal
    The biggest problem with the iPhone in Japan (or so I was told by everyone I asked in Japan) is that it requires 2 hands to use effectively. Therefore, you can't use it to text one handed on a crowded subway where you need one hand to hold on to the overhead strap.

    ALso, for whatever reason, people seemed less impressed by its fancy pants touch scrolling UI, and more interested in simple lists they could click through, and being able to pull down over the air TV versus d/l videos.

    Personally, I agree with my Japanese friends; I'm not a huge fan (I like a keyboard).

    But, it's interesting to note that almost every expat American I saw on my last trip had an iPhone, though -- so there might be just more appeal, culturally, to Amercians and westerners for some reason. There's certainly no shortage of cult-of-Mac people in Japan, but it didn't seem to translate to the phone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:33AM (#27012157)

    Get over yourself. My mother's caucasian American, my Father's Japanese. I don't get treated like a Gaijin even though I definitely don't have the pure-Japanese look. All it takes is a good understanding of the culture (and living it), and speaking Japanese like a native. I've never had anyone promoted over me simply because they were more Japanese than I was, although I have been accused of the opposite, in that my "American" background put me at an advantage. (Partially true, since both Japanese and English are a native language to me, and speaking both is a massive plus in my field, but that has nothing to do with my genetic makeup.) The "he got promoted because he was xxxx" is, 90% of the time, the sound of a loser whining.

    One thing I see with "Engrish Teachers" getting passed up for promotion is that their English is good, but the Teaching part is not. (Which is to be expected... how many gaijin English teachers in Japan do you know that have had adequate training to become a teacher? A number very close to ZERO would be the answer.) That may not be the teacher's fault considering the way these teachers are recruited, but it is certainly a valid reason why the promotions may not be moving in their favor.

    As far as the iPhone is concerned, I have one, and I know what the complaining is all about. I'd say that 50% of the problem is that the iPhone doesn't offer any of the proprietary "keitai" functions that everyone has come to expect from ANY phone these days in Japan. Offer a product that doesn't have the functions you want, and it's no surprise that people don't want it. However, another 50% of the problem is that it's locked into the SoftBank carrier. Piss poor customer service, terrible reception unless you're in the middle of one of the big cities, and bad pricing plans upon launch.

    But when the summary quotes Nobi Hayashi (who the hell is this guy!?) as saying that carrying an iPhone is "lame", well... sounds like he's either sour because he doesn't have one, or else he only hangs around keitai geeks. Having an iPhone is a GREAT conversation starter with girls. Carrying a Panasonic P905i isn't gonna generate the same kind of enthusiasm.

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

    by nasor (690345) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:50AM (#27012417)
    I think the real issue is much simpler; Japanese people text like crazy, and the iPhone is pretty bad for texting. Simple as that.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:54AM (#27012485) Journal

    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.

    I was traveling overseas when the original iPhone came out and people were going crazy for it.
    Not because it had good features, but because it was a status symbol.

    Mobile shops were hawking it for 2x retail and selling out every time they got a new box of iPhones.
    The mobile stores all had waiting lists, even those kiosks in the mall.
    Having one meant either someone hand carried it from America or you paid >$1000 US
    /But that's just my anecdotal experience.

  • by lymond01 (314120) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:05PM (#27012631)

    Being an original iPhone adopter from the U.S. I'd say it's strength isn't in its features, but in its usability. As stated 1000 times, the iPhone interface, much like the MacOS interface, is beyond any of its competitors, at least in the U.S. Intuitive, smooth, with good feedback (though not tactile -- and I've taken to sighing when I hear the tappity-tap of a blackberry user in a theater or classroom compared to the silent keyboard of the iPhone).

    Dodging the easy car analogy, the iPhone is a partner who knows what you want, instead of someone who can offer anything you want.

  • by aclarke (307017) <spam@clark e . ca> on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:13PM (#27012769) Homepage
    To each their own, I guess. I just got back from Switzerland, and had one person comment on how fancy my phone was. She had heard of iPhones but I guess had never seen one, or an iPod Touch either. This is from a family with 5 iPods.

    Maybe, as others have stated, Apple designed a product which would sell well in its primary market, the US. There's a "duh" moment for you. Yes, other markets have better mobile phones and coverage, but as a Canadian I don't feel bad for you Americans :-( Things here are even worse.

    I have to say though that given what little I've seen of the Panasonic P905i, I'd take the iPhone any day. A phone with a giant antenna and TV access? No thanks. It goes back to cultural preferences once again.
  • by TheLink (130905) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:13PM (#27012773) Journal

    But the iphone lack of success is little (nothing?) to do with all that.

    Using "protectionism" as an excuse for the iPhone's failure, is like using "protectionism" as an excuse for your car not selling well in Japan, when the real reason is you don't make right hand drive cars.

    The iPhone is an inferior product compared to the competing products in Japan. The iPhone doesn't even have built-in, reliable (non-fiddly) and well-integrated QR code (a type of 2D "barcode") reader app.

    There are QR codes everywhere in Japan - business cards, ads, signs, magazines, etc.

    Example usage: bus stops

    See: http://2d-code.co.uk/bus-stop-qr-code/ [2d-code.co.uk]

    "Each bus has a GPS which continuously updates the bus company server with its position. The QR Code at the bus stop takes you to a mobilised page for that stop which shows a list of approaching buses, their location, whether they are on time or delayed (if delayed by how many minutes), estimated arrival time at the stop and if there are any alternative buses going in the same direction."

    The Japanese do buy foreign stuff, it just has to meet their standards. The Chinese need specially regulated farms for their farm produce to sell in Japan, you can call that protectionism, but I call it a good idea given the dubious stuff the Chinese tend to get up to ;).

    Lastly with regards to forever being a "gaijin" and never being promoted.

    If a real Japanese CEO screws up big time in Japan, they're almost expected to commit suicide (it's one of the traditional and honourable options left for you).

    Whereas a US CEO gets 20 million dollars to "go away and stop hurting the company, please".

    So yah, that's a big cultural divide there. Think you can really be one of them?

    Even many of the Japanese can't be "japanese enough", and those suffer for it, because "a nail that sticks up/out must be hammered down". You think those will get promoted as well? Of course as a gaijin, you will forever stick out. So best you work for the few companies that are fine with that.

    My friends didn't seem to have any complaints about working in Japan.

  • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:21PM (#27012879)
    I bet the iPhone - Hello Kitty Edition would sell millions... Features pink bezel and adorable hello kitty stylized back plate.
  • by cthellis (733202) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:24PM (#27012921)
    You'd be hard-pressed to find ANY Apple fanboy saying "it's not necessary." Most are still "what the crap?" themselves, and go so far as to say "I guess they're working on a new system that will change expectations as to what 'cutting' and 'pasting' means to mobile devices and to the 'cloud,' and aren't going to bring it out until they're ready.

    Not to mention Apple's been pretty hard-line as to the 'sandbox' concept for apps, and dramatic clipboard alterations would start giving people access to all sorts of potential monkey-business.

    So while they may "understand" on a "logistical for Apple" level, effectively NO ONE says it's unnecessary, or doesn't find themselves missing it.
  • by Nick Ives (317) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:30PM (#27012997)

    Actually, I'm always quite mystified by comments like that. In what way, other than perhaps a slightly wider form factor, does the iPhone "require" a second hand to use effectively? It's certainly speedier to have two thumbs available for typing, the ability to use multi-finger gestures like pinching... But if you're just quickly using it, in what way is it difficult?

    The ability to touch-text is common here in the UK and I'd expect even more-so in Japan. I'd never buy a phone without a proper input pad for that very reason - touch-texting whilst pissed in a club and having a conversation is essential!

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:56PM (#27013401) Homepage Journal
    "You can pay vending machines with your cell phone. "

    I for one, am NOT anxious to have a cell phone that spends my money on vending or anything else.

    I prefer most of my purchases to be with good, old fashioned cash. I can keep up with my spending better that way...it isn't abstracting money from value, say like how casino chips make you forget you're really playing for real money.

    I like to keep any credit as low as possible....once out of CC debt hell, I intend to say out of CC debt hell. I wouldn't want to pay by cell phone, just another possible way to ruin yourself by spending without thinking.

  • by babyrat (314371) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:06PM (#27013561)

    I prefer most of my purchases to be with good, old fashioned cash. I can keep up with my spending better that way...it isn't abstracting money from value, say like how casino chips make you forget you're really playing for real money.

    I feel exactly opposite to this - I use my credit card or debit card for absolutely everything I can (within reason) in order to keep track of my money. At the end of the month I can import my bill electronically into Quicken and see where all my money went. Even without Quicken at least there is a record. Contrast this with - crap, I just took $200 out of the ATM Monday and now I have 12 cents left in my pocket - where did it go?

    I always pay my credit card off at the end of the month so there is no CC debt hell.

    Now to get back on topic, sort of ...

    Paying with my iPhone would likely have similar advantages.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:08PM (#27013593)

    Uhh, since this devolved into something about the US cell phone market and Japanese cell phone market into this dribble, I'll bite.

    'The Japanese also have a major cultural complex about what is "true japanese."'

    So does the US. You just may not be as aware of it. Look at the comments made by fans of NASCAR when Toyota entered the field here a couple of years ago. Many/most were pissed. For a frame of reference, compare Toyotas entry with Dodge's a few years prior still. Plenty of people dislike Japanese products. (The current rage nowadays is China.)

    My father is a US citizen, ancestors came over around 1783, what we would call German descent. He met my mother as he worked as a ships engineer during his career. I came to the US as a 2yo. I grew up and lived in same house until college. I now live 5 miles over.

    I still get "looks" (dirty looks, looks of disdain, disgust, looking aways) in the area for being (half) different. Most of it from younger folk working at the supermarket and teenagers who yell off the street while I work in the yard. The rest are from people who moved into the area, usually from nearby cities, as the housing market was booming and see someone "different" as being "new."

    Now, not everyone does this and most leave you alone or don't care or go about their lives, but that's is what is readily apparant to me. One who takes action on their feelings every so often usually amounts to 3-4 mailbox knockovers and dozens of trash on your yard a year, as opposed to, say, the majority folk who don't deal with this at all (my parents still make their living in real estate wo we have many properties to compare to, since we don't care of the lawn care for the them).

    Indeed, what you say is accurate from all I've read about Japanese culture. But the opinion put forward it in, as Japanese centric, is hardly isolated to them. The Japanese have a word for outsider. At least they are upfront about it.

    The reality is, no matter how long you live in an area, if you look different, you often are considered different. Neighbors, police, passerbys. Sort of like the black gang member in the Gangs of New York movie.

    My parents live in a very upscale neighborhood. Nearly every time my mother answers the door to a sales person, person looking for directions, etc., she gets questioned "may I speak to the owner", "oh, you speak English very good" (my favorite), or is thought of as the housekeeper or servant. The other sentiment often encountered, particularly at new banks or with new bank hires, is jealousy.

    Where I am is something like 96% white per the 2000 US census. Rather well-educated county, and the top or top 2 of the municipalities/school districts in the area, bordered by 2-3 of the rest of the top in the county.

    This sort of behavior and thought is not relegated to the US, Japan, or white districts. I got similar treatment sometimes when I went to college in Chicago and was in a black neighborhood. It's just the way things are, and there's very little you or anyone can do about it.

    Japanese like Japanese things. So do many US people, who try to buy American, etc. Japan has a general word for outsider? The US just maybe doesn't need language to indicate what is readily displayed in body language and social ties.

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:09PM (#27013609) Homepage Journal
    "The ability to touch-text is common here in the UK and I'd expect even more-so in Japan. I'd never buy a phone without a proper input pad for that very reason - touch-texting whilst pissed in a club and having a conversation is essential!"

    I think it also may have something to do with txt messaging starting out earlier and still probably more popular in Europe and other far away lands than in the US.

    I think early on, it had to do with how ya'll are billed for voice and txt...it was cheaper over there to txt than to voice. Over here...pretty much the opposite. Heck...still is really...you have to pay extra to txt or get a txt plan for your phone.

    I actually never tried it till just after Katrina, when we found it was about the only way to contact anyone with a 504 area code on their phone. You simply could not call anyone for almost a month or more, but you could txt them.

  • "...every douche already owns one. "
    then "No, I don't wish I had one."

    Clearly every douche doesn't have one~

    It's Japan. I don't care what you offer, it's going to be damn difficult for a 'Western' company to crack that nut.
    Doable, just difficult.

  • by PyroMosh (287149) on Friday February 27, 2009 @02:55PM (#27015081) Homepage

    Apple has historically been different, one of the few companies welcomed, even enthusiastically embraced by the Japanese.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TyR3fyLO_I [youtube.com]

    They love gadgets over their. The way Apple does things, and the typical build quality is what the Japanese market is all about. Cool technology packaged in an easy-to-use, stylish package. It's not like North America, where it's more or less a race to the bottom to see who can build the cheapest widget with the biggest numbers, to hell with quality. They *care* about (perceived) build quality. That's why the expensive Sony Trinitron that never had significant market share here, dominated over there during the years of tube based Televisions. It wasn't just a "buy domestic" mentality. Because much of Sony's competition was Japanese as well.

    The iPod and the Mac mesh *perfectly* with what the Japanese love about technology. In fact, I'd even go so far to say the iPhone gets it nearly right, but fails with several, easily corrected critical flaws that Apple just seems unwilling to correct. MMS, Video, App Store issues - that's all software, the build quality of the hardware seems perfectly respectable to me. It feels quick and responsive most of the time, and I'd never own one because of lack of openness (my definition of "open" may differ as I'm a Windows Mobile fan) and because of those few fatal flaws mentioned in TFA.

    (This is my second post today defending Sony. I need to go take a shower.)

  • Not true at all IMHO (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nicky G (859089) on Friday February 27, 2009 @03:08PM (#27015283)
    When I was in Japan a few months ago, I got a hell of a lot of "iPhone? Sugoi!" (cool!) in response to using my iPhone in public. The Japanese public may reject it for technical reasons (original lack of emoji support, tv, video, etc.) or pricing reasons, but "lack of cool" is not one of them, I don't think.
  • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75.yahoo@com> on Friday February 27, 2009 @03:39PM (#27015733)

    It's Japan. I don't care what you offer, it's going to be damn difficult for a 'Western' company to crack that nut.
    Doable, just difficult.

    It's not really all that difficult. In fact, the iPod does just fine there. (The Walkman digital players are neck and neck, but that's to be expected - there is *some* home court advantage, just in the marketing and language if nothing else.)

    In fact, there are not many categories of anything there over which we (meaning western companies) have not had at least some influence, and in many cases are market leaders. It's a total myth that the Japanese only like Japanese products. Well ok, then how do you explain Levi's, Starbucks, McDonald's, Apple (other than the iPhone), Microsoft, Chanel, Coach, hollywood movies, Mariah Carey, etc. etc.?

    The fact is they love our stuff. They just don't love all of it equally, and why should they? We don't love all of our stuff equally either. They just happen to have slightly different priorities in what they're looking for, but they have no bias whatsoever in terms of where the products they use come from.

    The companies that do best there are the ones that tweak their stuff to Japanese tastes and/or expectations. That should be obvious, but apparently it was not obvious to Apple with the iPhone, which is clearly on the low end of phones in Japan on specs... and uglier than most too. So it's no surprise that it would be unpopular.

    But if it had an 8mp camera, a TV tuner, a cheaper rate plan, a higher-res screen, a clamshell design and proper buttons? It wouldn't matter who made it, people there would buy it.

  • by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2NO@SPAMgdargaud.net> on Friday February 27, 2009 @05:16PM (#27017023) Homepage
    I suggest you don't purchase an HP digital multimeter/signal analyzer... When you later call them to purchase a 1Gb memory upgrade (for about 1000$) they just give you a code to type in on the device... to activate the extra memory that is already installed inside the device. Now I'm only a lowly engineer with no decision/purchase power, but I told them in no uncertain terms to go fuck themselves, and if I had any power the device would be on its way back in the mail with a money-back request. All this because their marketing practices would make a maggot gag.
  • by Pyroja (616376) on Friday February 27, 2009 @06:53PM (#27018177) Homepage
    You are a troll. Verizon does a lot of backhanded evil shit, and there are many reasons to hate on them. Don't make shit up. The GPS on all VZW BlackBerries has been unlocked for months. I've got my BlackBerry Storm right here in front of me. Not only did it come with a free mapping app, BB Maps, I also went and installed Google Maps. Funny that, it accesses the GPS just fine. So does Nav4All. And SignalLoc. And Poynt. A year ago you could've slung this claim. Not today. Better luck next time.
  • Re:Pretty lame? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mdwh2 (535323) on Friday February 27, 2009 @07:06PM (#27018301) Journal

    I know everyone says that non-US phones are way ahead of us, but what UK phone had amazing integration with Google maps (or any online map provider) years ago?

    Um, just about all of them except the really cheap ones that don't do Java? As the other commenter pointed out, Google have a Java client. Oh I'm sorry, I forget that the Iphone can't even support Java either, so I mean "really cheap ones, and the expensive Iphone".

    For years I've seen friends with various smartphones that have GPS and mapping software (some of them choose to store the map on the phone, so they don't even need an Internet connection). I'm afraid I don't know the model of phone - you see, unlike Iphone users, when anyone else gets out their phone and uses it, they don't make a big fuss of "Hey, I'm doing this on my IpHoNe [or whatever model it is], isn't this cool!" They just get on and use it.

    Which UK phone had multitouch?

    Multitouch is a recent phone development, and not unique to the Iphone AIUI. I'll admit that multitouch is one neat thing that the Iphone has helped develop - all phone companies have introduced new things when they release new phones, and there's no reason for Apple to be different. I never said that the Iphone had nothing neat or new in it - but that doesn't mean that Apple invented all the things that people falsely claim were new in the Iphone.

    Which UK phone had a great app store?

    App store? If I see an App, I download it, and it just works. Why would I tie myself to one store? The phone providers (Vodafone, etc) provide online stores for people who don't want to go looking for it, it's been this way for years.

    Which UK phone had visual voice mail?

    No idea, what is this?

    Which UK phone had a full blown browser years ago?

    Any phone (except the cheap non-Java ones) can run Opera Mini (most have built in browsers too, albeit often not as good). Smartphones have had full blown browsers for years. Are you seriously suggesting that the Iphone is the first phone with a decent browser? I think that proves my point about just how limited the technology must be in some countries. We've been able to browse the web for years. I remember it being impressive when I saw people doing it about, oh, 2003, but for heaven's sake, it's 2009.

    Which UK phone integrated perfectly with your music collection on your computer?

    I can't think of a phone these days that doesn't play mp3s from your computer, and this has been around for years too.

    Of course, you'll probably claim some magical significance in terms of your use of "amazing", "great", "full blown", "perfectly" - which smells like a No True Scotsman fallacy (oh, it doesn't count that it had a browser, it wasn't "full blown"). You'll have to objectively define what these terms mean, and show why the Iphone's offering was a significant and important change, and explain how it is better than everything else on the market.

    For that matter did any non-US phone have all these features (and more) *years* ago?

    Well, it didn't include all features, because you've listed multitouch which is a recent development in the phone industry. But it's a fallacy to claim that therefore the Iphone is the first to do all of these features! I could just as easily claim that since the Iphone can't do all the features that my years old cheap phone can do (e.g., Java, copy/paste, video recording/phoning, MMS), that therefore my phone is better in other respects too.

    I didn't claim that everything on the Iphone was done years ago - that's a straw man you're attacking. But a large number of things that people do think the Iphone did first (most notably, web browsing) or are cool when the Iphone finally gets it (3G) are ancient history in the rest of the phone industry.

    But honestly, from my point of view the iPhone is really advanced, not just for the US market, but for every market. But I guess it's cool to hate the iPhone on slashdot and ins

  • by SilentTristero (99253) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @12:07AM (#27020323)

    What about folded optics? Minolta had a camera like this with a 45 degree mirror behind the lens and the sensor down one side a few years ago. Gives longer focal length in a slim body. Don't know if any of the camphone companies are doing this though, there's probably not enough empty space in the case.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 28, 2009 @03:21AM (#27021141)

    i begin to channel my inner communist.

    Here in China, there is ONE major cell phone provider, and only one other minor one that I know of. I'm not sure why the minor one exists, because it sucks and no one I've ever met uses it.

    The Major one (China Mobile) is _awesome_. It works everywhere, I never have any signal problems no matter what city in the country I go to. You buy a SIM card for about 20 USD, and recharge it whenever you use up your minutes. To use it in Hong Kong and Macau I just send a text message to China Mobile letting them know I want my phone to work there, the service costs less than 1 USD per day, when I come back to China I text them to turn it off.

    Cheers to "communism" for making good use of a natural monopoly. Apparently US policy makers skipped the part of their econ textbooks that teaches about that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 28, 2009 @07:21AM (#27021871)
    yeah, I hear it sells on par with those sony mp3 players... you know, the ones that are a complete failure everywhere else?

    the ipod selling in japan proves only that it's a good product. sony's piece of shit mp3 players selling as well as it proves that the japanese buy japanese

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