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Some additional thoughts on the SB/iPhone news June 4, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japan, Mobile, technology.

We can stop talking about 3G iPhone  “rumours”. Since SB (and all other Japanese carriers) no longer have legacy 2.xG networks which are actively adding users, a Japanese launch must be equated to 3G. 3G only or 3G+GSM, that is now the question.

Coming just one day after SB’s launch of their ’08 summer collection, one has to wonder what impact the news of iPhone’s launch at some time in the future will have on SB ’08 summer handset sales will be. Given that the two other major carriers have also begun marketing their ’08 summer models, the timing of this announcement could be seen as a spoiler tactic targetting users who might have been thinking of upgrading their phones on rival networks. Many of the upgraders this season will be upgrading into the newly introduced 2-year fixed term contracts for the first time, so this would appear to be a good time to tempt users to switch with a unique offering. IF the iPhone will be a pure SB offering, of course.

SB’s summer ’08 collection launch yesterday was notable for its focus on young women. Women are apparently underrepresented in SB’s customer base, and the announced handset lineup was heavy on models targeted towards women. This may offset the negative impact of the iPhone announcement, a quick strawpoll conducted around the office seemed to suggest that the iPhone will appeal more to techy, geeky young men. The fact that the iPhone form factor and capacitative touchscreen interface isn’t optimal for single handed use especially with long manicured nails counts against the iPhone in the Japanese F1 demographic, for sure. So, targeting women with their summer models and guys with the iPhone may be valid.


1. Gen Kanai - June 4, 2008

There are some core issues that are still open for me for the iPhone to succeed in Japan.

– not a one-handed device
– QWERTY keyboard as default ?

Plus, they say it will be thinner than the current model but it is clearly larger than almost all of the phones on the market in Japan today.

2. fukumimi - June 5, 2008


I agree with your points.

It will be interesting to see what the default input interface will be. 10(ok, 12)-key layout is actually a pretty good fit with the Japanese “alphabet”, and for those who unlike us who grew up with the mobile phone (rather than the PC) as their first internet connected electronic device, QWERTY would be a step backword. How do you input gyaru-moji with a qwerty keyboard (for that matter, how do those girls type in gyaru-moji??? I can’t even read half of it…)

The one-handed-ness is also a point that needs to be reinforced. I know Apple is on a thin is cool trend campaign right now, but from an ergonmics perspective, thinness in depth is overrated for a handheld device. Way more important is thinness in width. How does one balance that with maintaining screen size (and aspect ratio) is the critical question, of course.

3. kirai - June 6, 2008

yes, they agree that the input interface is going to be critical. Also the Apple’s kotoeri henkan is really bad, they should use ATOK at least.

If I were Softbank I would embed ATOK and give the option to type using a “keitai” layout keyboard in the iPhone.

Gen, I can use my iTouch with one hand…. but I have big hands 😉 and sometimes I press two keys with my finger. But for scrolling, with just one finger it’s just easy and the best way to read feeds for example.

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