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Why Japan Hates the iPhone 884

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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  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:25AM (#27011211) Journal
    In Japan, only old people use iPhones?
    • 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.

      • 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 Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:16PM (#27013705) Journal

          ...every douche already owns one.

          I don't.

        • 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.
      • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:40PM (#27014061)

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

        Wrong: there's that one app that displays a zippo lighter, and you can open up the zippo and light it, and then if you tilt the phone the flame ACTUALLY MOVES!

        Yeah. Put THAT in your pipe and then use that app to smoke it.

    • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:26PM (#27012949)

      There are a lot of American things that seem to be chic in Japan, but technology has never really been one of them. It's like trying to impress a German with your precision-engineered American luxury car or something.

  • by Bromskloss ( 750445 ) <auxiliary,address,for,privacy&gmail,com> on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:25AM (#27011213)

    Oh no, it has become self-aware!

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

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MightyYar ( 622222 )

      I have a one-word rebuttal:
      iDrive []

      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 [] looks better than the Civic dash []. Mostly I object to the silvery trim, but most of what I se

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:27AM (#27011229)

    For one, the Japanese are well ahead of the West in terms of cellphone technology, as witnessed by the description of the P905i. For the Japanese, the 3G iPhone is old hat.

    In addition, unlike in the U.S., where we love Japanese products, the Japanese hate our products. They're very biased towards home-grown stuff. They typically steer clear of imports. Imports are generally more expensive in Japan due to tariffs and such, too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

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


      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 [] (and even then, the "natives" will get promoted above you every time).

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

      • 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?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by kno3 ( 1327725 )

          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?

          Is this not obvious? So that you can fill the surface of the phone with screen, therefore having a bigger screen. You use the keypad when you need it, but then if you wana watch something for example, the keypad goes and you have a nice large screen to watch stuff on.

      • by Ninnle Labs, LLC ( 1486095 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:23AM (#27011987)

        but they get away with because they're a relatively small market compared to the US.

        What?! They are the second largest economy in the world... That's hardly what I'd call a "small market".

      • 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.

      • 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: []

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

      They're very biased towards home-grown stuff.

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

    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:20AM (#27011959)

      In addition, unlike in the U.S., where we love Japanese products, the Japanese hate our products.

      Except for our rice. They LOOOOVE California rice. I thought that this was odd until it was explained to me that the Japanese had brought the rice to California, and thus it was actually just Japanese rice grown in a better climate. LOL, how do I roll my eyes on the internet?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:28AM (#27011237)

    Have you ever noticed that they speak some strange version of the Mexican language and look unlike us? Also their food is expensive because we eat cows which are large, plentiful and docile animals, while Japanise people only eat fearsome and rare SHARKS to boast of their manliness. In conclusion, Japan is a far away place somewhere in Mexico where smart people do not eat cows. Thank you will you marry me.

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 )

      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

    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by poetmatt ( 793785 )

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 )

        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.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nasor ( 690345 )
      I think the real issue is much simpler; Japanese people text like crazy, and the iPhone is pretty bad for texting. Simple as that.
  • 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.
    • 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.

      • 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 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 no, no calls...

  • 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 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! []
      • 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.

  • 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.

    • Re:Pretty lame? (Score:4, Informative)

      by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:23AM (#27011993) Journal

      Sorry, I'll just stick with the iPhone, and upgrade to a phone based on Android when it matures.

      Similarly, I'm sticking with my Motorola V980 phone, and will upgrade to a new phone when it matures. A necessary condition for "maturity" is having basic functionality that even my years old bog standard phone has, such as copy/paste, and MMS. (Cue the "But I don't need that, so why would anyone else!" posts.)

      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

      Indeed. I'm in the UK, which perhaps explains why the supposedly "new" Iphone offerings have been done here in ordinary phones for years. And people have the cheek to claim that other manufacturers are copying the Iphone!

  • by Exitar ( 809068 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:41AM (#27011437)

    "Japan is immune to Reality Distortion Field"

  • 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 davejenkins ( 99111 ) <slashdot@davejBO ... .com minus berry> on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:47AM (#27011491) Homepage
    Softbank is now offering the 8GB iPhone for free (with two year data plan). I saw this yesterday, and translated a quick summary on my site for the Japanese language-challenged: []
  • by putaro ( 235078 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:57AM (#27011605) Journal

    Kanji input on the iPhone is as good as the other cell phones. Given that text messaging is a major use for cell phones, this is a big problem.

    The UI on the iPhone blows away Japanese cell phones (I live in Japan and I use them all the time). The reason the iPhone isn't taking off as well in Japan is the kanji support and Softbank's piss poor marketing support. They have not done a good job of differentiating the iPhone from the other touch screen phones and, in fact, SoftBank carries several other touch screen phones which is confusing.

    • by Virak ( 897071 )

      The reason the iPhone isn't taking off as well in Japan is the kanji support

      Well that'd make sen-

      Kanji input on the iPhone is as good as the other cell phones.

      Wait, what? Did you mean to say it isn't as good as with other phones? Because that'd make a lot more sense. (And if so, I'm curious as to what exactly is wrong with it; I don't even have an iPhone, let alone input Japanese with one)

  • 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?

    • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jandrese ( 485 )
      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.
  • I agree (Score:5, Funny)

    by 2names ( 531755 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:03AM (#27011709)
    'Carrying around an iPhone in Japan would make you look pretty lame.'

    It doesn't do much for your reputation in the U.S. either...

    I like to use the old Bluetooth headset analogy.

    Old Techie: "You know how lumberjacks will sometimes put a big red X on trees?"
    Young Techie (who is wearing a bluetooth headset): "Like, yeah."
    O.T.: "That big red X is a sign to other lumberjacks that the tree bearing it needs to be culled from the population."
    Y.T.: "Culled. That's not really a word, is it?"
    O.T.: "The bluetooth headset is the human equivalent."

    /s/bluetooth\ headset/iPhone/g
  • 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.


  • Apple is not third!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by jfanning ( 35979 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:17AM (#27011909) Homepage

    Apple is in absolutely no way the "third-largest mobile supplier in the world".

    Not even close.

    The top are: Nokia (40%), Samsung (14%), Motorola (14%), Sony Ericsson (9%) and LG (7%). Apple is well down in the single digits. []

    On the other hand they have captured a surprisingly large share of the revenue, but only because the iPhone is a high margin product and they don't compete in the high volume area.

  • by sunking2 ( 521698 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:21AM (#27011979)
    They gave their lives only to become a nation of dudes with man purses. If they only knew before. Or maybe they saw it coming and decided death was better.
  • No MMS. LOL. (Score:3, Informative)

    by inotocracy ( 762166 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @11:29AM (#27012095) Homepage
    When I found out that the iPhone lacked MMS I couldn't help but laugh. No MMS? Seriously? How can a mobile phone be released and not support that oh so basic functionality. Every single phone released has MMS but not the iPhone. Why exactly?
  • 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 quarterbuck ( 1268694 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @03:15PM (#27015377)
      Actually Nokia was the original champion for this.
      Each menu on the phone is associated with a number 1= Call 2= Messages etc. and the same applies to the submenus. Most of my friends had these sequences memorized, so they could pick up a phone and type 1-2-1 and get into their received text messages menu etc. without looking at their phone.
      The cool thing was that this sequence of menu's was the same in ALL the Nokia phones, so most of the users stuck with Nokia when they upgraded.
      Later on Nokia changed their menu layout and their phone chargers causing a lot of the users to defect.

I've got a bad feeling about this.