Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why iPhone will not do well in Japan, at least initially...

Having just come back from Japan:

When the iPhone 3G finally came out, I didn't think it would do so well in Japan for a wide variety of reasons. I haven't heard any statistics about how it is doing, but there are a number of things the iPhone will have to address for the Japanese market:

- First, a lot of mobile phone use in Japan is while riding the train. iPhone, on the other hand, needs two handed input. It's impossible to use the iPhone while riding the train, unless you happen to have a seat.

- The iphone doesn't support the very important QR code, which is used to scan for more information. By scanning the QR code in a magazine, users don't have to type in URL, and can simply get a hyperlink to the required info. This can be fixed quickly, and someone is probably already writing the app.

- The iPhone doesn't support the wide practice of using emoticons to indicate a person's emotions. But this can be fixed easily, assuming Apple is paying attention.

- There are a number of hardware design issues. There is no IR port for easy contact information exchange, no FeliCa electronic wallet for paying for train tickets and conv. stores, and there are no holes for hanging trinkets, especially for the ladies. Worst of all, the iPhone has much worse battery life than a standard Japanese mobile phone.

On the other hand, the iPhone has piqued people's interest in Japan. What it has going for it:

- Great screen, and awesome web browser. This is so far ahead of other handsets, and is the one thing that gets people really interested.

- Applications. The app store is bringing out a bunch of great games and utilities that people will find interesting. This makes the mobile phone into a true platform, which has not been done very well in Japan so far.

Check out these links for more info:

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