Posts Tagged ‘NTT DoCoMo’

iPhonAsia stumbled upon a new blog focusing on iPhone in Japan. This blog has no contact info or authorship attribution and only one post. But we liked what we read and you might also.

geshia-iphoneExcerpt: With all the talk that the Japanese cellphone market will never go for Apple’s iPhone, take note of data from Yano Economic Laboratory:

Smartphone sales in Japan were up 68% last year to 1.58 Million Units. Projections for 2009 are 2.07 Million and for 2012 -3.65 Million. Yano specifically notes the iPhones introduction as the catalyst for the increase.

Softbank’s promotion for a “free” iPhone until the end of May was cited as indication of lack of demand. But clearly the anticipation of Apple upgrading the unit in June is spurring Softbank to clear stock. There are rumors, as well that Softbank will lose exclusivity to the iPhone later this year when NTT Docomo starts offering it in its line-up. 

iphone-3g-japanRead more  iPhone starting Smart Phone boom in Japan


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iPhonAsia comment: Wired.com wrote a slanted article yesterday titled “Why the Japanese Hate the iPhone” … The author, Brian X. Chen, used an 8-month old quote attributed to Nobi Hayashi to support his piece. Nobi took exception to Chen’s article and posted his recentpre-publication e-mail correspondence with Chen.  

Brian X. Chen

Brian X. Chen

In my opinion, Wired.com has practiced tabloid journalism by distorting the intent and direct statements provided by Nobi, a key source for their article. Nobi went to great lengths to share his balanced views with Wired.com (see excerpts from Nobi’s e-mail below), yet Chen somehow divined an entirely different message.  

Comment from Nobi responding to Wired.com via AppleInsider post > HERE

Update: It now appears that Brian X. Chen misquoted another source for his article, Daiji Hirata who has also published a rebuttal. Daiji Hirata’s rebuttal to Wired.com is a MUST READ > HERE  (thanks Torley)

It is amusing to see how Wired.com is now in full damage control and furiously re-editing (fixing) the story to make it correct; “His [Nobi’s] cellular weapon of choice when he spoke to Wired.com June 2008? A Panasonic P905i” …  Pssst … Brian, um, regarding your attempted “fix” … OF COURSE Nobi wasn’t holding an iPhone in Japan in June 2008! The iPhone wasn’t launched in Japan until JULY 2008!

Original cached article (sans “fixes”): http://cc.msnscache.com/cache.aspx?q…8dd12,806a5f49

Note: For those that don’t know, Nobuyuki “Nobi” Hayashi is the “Walt Mossberg” of Japan and is known for his reviews of tech/mobile gadgets. I have included short excerpts from Nobi’s post and his e-mail to Brian X. Chen.  In order to get the full context, I strongly encourage readers to view the full post on Nobi’s blog > HERE

Twitter Poll > twtpoll ::iPhoneについて日本人の人はどう思っていますか?

What is Japanese people’s take on iPhone? Good: 93%  Bad: 7%

My view of how iPhone is doing in Japan by Nobi (Nobuyuki Hayashi)




…. “I was quoted for something I haven’t told to Brian at all.”

…. “I can’t agree with what Brian’s article had to say and here is how I view the iPhone market in Japan.” 

Exceprts from Nobuyuki Hayashi’s e-mail to Brian Chen @ Wired.com:

…. “To answer your question, I don’t think iPhone is such a big failure in Japan. The perception of iPhone being a failure was created by a newspaper in Japan, Sankei Shimbun. Last fall, it wrote although Softbank tried to sell one million units by the end of 2008, they only sold about 200,000. This article was wrong in two fronts. One is that Softbank nor Apple never publicly claimed they would sell 1 million units. Second, their estimate of 200,000 units were also wrong. Although Apple nor Softbank releases the real number of shipment, today, it is strongly believed that they have shipped more than 300,000 and possibly near 400,000 units in Japan.”

…. “Also on January 11th, 2009 they [Sankei Shimbun] looked back how iPhone did in the first six month and seem to have concluded it wasn’t that bad after all”

…. “Now let’s talk if 400,000 (or 300,000) is a strong or weak number. I think this is not at all a weak number especially if you are talking about 2008.”

…. “In January 2007, Steve Jobs said he will have 1% share of the worldwide market. Well, in Japan, too. They got that number of share in this very competitive market.”

…. “I think iPhone sales in Japan can improve much more here in Japan. But in order to do that, I think SoftBank has to have more control in how they market / advertise the device here in Japan.”

…. “I love iPhone and I think iPhone can be a bigger success here in Japan, but in order to make it so, Apple has to trust SoftBank and reinvent the relationship”

iPhonAsia comment: Again, I urge PhonAsia readers to click the post on Nobi’s blog > HERE in order to get the full context. See also a revealing comment from newton via MacDailyNews (copied/pasted below):

Comment from: newton*

If you read the original Wired 2008 article by Lisa Katayama…

Hayashi owns a Panasonic P905i, a fancy cellphone that doubles as a miniature but crisp 3-inch TV. In addition to 3G and GPS, the device has a 5.1-megapixel camera and motion sensors that enable Wii-style games to be played sitting on the train. “When I show this to visitors from the U.S, they’re amazed,” Hayashi says. “They think there’s no way anybody would want an iPhone in Japan. But that’s only because I’m setting it up for them so that they can see the cool features.” [i.e. its not user friendly; my comment] In actuality, Hayashi says, the P905i is fatally flawed. The motion sensors are painfully slow, and the novelty of using them is quickly replaced with frustration. And while being able to watch TV anywhere is a spectacular idea, there’s no signal in the subways, and even above ground, the sound cuts out every few seconds. “There’s nothing more annoying than choppy TV noises,” Hayashi says.

then you can plainly see that Brian X. Chen purposely misused the Hayashi quote in his Wired article to disinguenously and unethically bolster his theme.

It also seems, based on Hayashi’s blog post, that Chen snuck in a “June 2008” edit to cover his butt after Hayashi called him to task.



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Softbank and Apple have already come to terms on an iPhone deal in Japan. Is there still a chance for Apple and NTT DoCoMo? Talks are apparently ongoing.

“It aint over till it’s over”




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Telecoms Korea news service is reporting that Apple is planning a special joint release of their next gen iPhone in partnership with NTT DoCoMo (Japan) and Korea’s Telecom Freetel (KTF). Presumably there are strategic or technology reasons for coordination between these two Asian Pacific carriers. Both DoCoMo and KTF support the W-CDMA 3G protocol yet that commonality is nothing unique. They do get along well (DoCoMo owns a 10.31% stake in KTF) and have previously formed joint ventures and partnerships. Perhaps the joint iPhone launch is just another such partnership?  Quoting Korea Telecom Freetel management, 3G Week reported in December 2007 that NTT DoCoMo and KTF would indeed form an iPhone distribution partnership.  TUAW.com also carried an article on this topic EXCERPT: “The South Korean market is small and without a Japanese partnership, Apple may decline to offer the unit in Korea at all.” See > HERE

NTT DoCoMo has 53 million mobile subscribers (44.4 million use its 3G-based network); Korea Telecom Freetel has approximately 12 million subscribers.

There may be other reasons for the two carriers to partner on iPhone … 

What do these two nations and carriers have in common that might require a special joint iPhone release?  Hard to say … So we are left to do some guesswork. We can start by considering special iPhone features that might be in strong demand in both nations. Would any of these hot features require coordination between the two carriers? Or perhaps a special production run of a next gen iPhone uniquely designed for Japanese and Korean consumers?  

Beyond the standard iPhone features, here are few theorized “next gen” iPhone features that might be important to both Japanese and South Korean consumers:

·      Mobile TV

·      Videophone (audio/visual iChat)

·      “Wave-to-Pay” that turns phone into credit card*

·      GPS

·      Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)

Let’s take closer look at that third bullet point … wave-to-pay. Both Japan’s NTT DoCoMo and S Korea’s KTF have implemented their wave-to-pay projects for mobile phones. This could be the one special feature that would require a separate production run of iPhone. The separate assembly would be required in order to embed iPhones with a near-field communications (NFC) device unique to these two markets. I want to emphasize that this is complete conjecture and I would invite those more versed on this topic to lend their opinion.

What is wave-to-pay? By 2012 some 300 million mobile phones will have “wave to pay” technology whereby the handset can be waved over a wireless reader to complete a transaction.  The mobile handset simply acts as a wallet and a transaction is charged against the customer’s bank account. Wireless payment technology is already widely used on toll bridges and for public transportation where riders need to move quickly through turnstiles.  Several handsets today use a variant of RFID technology for “wave to pay” called near-field communications (NFC). Japan makes wide use of this NFC technology in handsets. Credit card giant Visa has already introduced a ‘payWave’ card that enables small contractless purchases in shops. Several major banks (Barclays, HBOS, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and RBS) have announced plans to incorporate this new technology into their bank cards.




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ntt-docomo-logo.jpg   aapllogo.jpg

DoCoMo’s CFO Says Talks to Sell iPhone Focus on Profit Sharing

By Yoshinori Eki and Junko Kikkawa

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) — NTT DoCoMo Inc.’s Chief Financial Officer Masayuki Hirata said talks with Apple Inc. to sell the iPhone in Japan focus on the technological issues and division of profit.

“The handset is easy to use and can open new markets, which makes this an interesting proposition.” Hirata said in an interview yesterday. “We are in continuous contact with the company, but the specifics are still in the future.”

Full story HERE


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Update 6/04/08: Docomo’s response to Softbank’s announcement: “If there’s still a possibility of releasing iPhone from DoCoMo, we would consider it, though we cannot comment on whether we have specific negotiation plans with Apple,” an NTT DoCoMo spokesman said, adding that the iPhone is an attractive product that could appeal to Apple fans in Japan.

Reading between the lines: We are disappointed as we were expecting to carry iPhones… We’re still working on it.

Update 6/04/08: SoftBank issued a PR today announcing an agreement with Apple to carry the iPhone. Softbank is the first provider in Japan to announce that they will offer the the next generation iPhone in Japan where 2G is virtually non-existent.  Hello iPhone 2.0.

SoftBank does not indicte whether they are in an “exclusive” with Apple in Japan.  Given Apple’s recent trend towards “more than one carrier” in each major market, iPhonAsia would not be surprised to hear about another deal soon … Perhaps  June 9th. NTT DoCoMo remains Japan’s largest single carrier and has been a part of ongoing talks 

iPhone in Japan

A bit of un-sourced speculation (just a guess) on the editor’s part … there is a fair chance that the “iPhone in Japan” deal is largely done!  While this is good news for Apple and TBA Japanese mobile partner, it is also too premature for any announcements.  It would only invite unnecessary distractions for the carrier and Apple as they map out their distribution plan.  Hence the parties are not talking, and don’t hold your breath, official press releases may not come until Summer 2008.

See also May 20, 2008 post > Japan & Korea Special iPhone Launch?

ntt-docomo-logo.jpg  softbank_logo.jpg 

EETimes December 26 report – There has been minimal information to report regarding iPhone in Japan.  A report last month in EETimes revealed that negotiations are under way between Apple and service providers NTT DoCoMo and Softbank. DoCoMo is the largest Japanese mobile service provider and Softbank is the third largest.  Both carriers utilize the WCDMA infrastructure standard, which can deliver faster and more robust services than EDGE-based GSM services.


Forbes Magazine January 14 report – “Japan’s No. 1 and No. 3 carriers–NTT DoCoMo and Softbank–have a strong interest in carrying the iPhone,” says Michito Komura, a Japan-based IDC analyst.

What Japanese may desire in a new iPhone:

v    Mobile TV

v    Videophone (audio/visual chat)

v    “Wave-pay” that turns phone into credit card

v    GPS

v    Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)


Image below courtesy of BDA Connect 


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