iPhone versus Japan – what’s missing, who might beat it?


If your current phone carrier sold the iPhone, would you buy it? graph of japanese statisticsDespite Japan Probe suggesting that all that is needed for the iPhone to succeed here in Japan is the ability to play back Gundam anime, I suspect there are perhaps a number of features missing that people expect as standard. To find out if there is any truth behind this suspicion, iShare performed a survey on views regarding the iPhone.


Between the 26th of June and the 2nd of July 2007, iShare interviewed by means of a private internet-based questionnaire 1,341 members of its CLUB BBQ free mail forwarding service. Men outweighed females 7:3, 18.3% were in their twenties, 48.2% in their thirties, 24.9% in their forties, and the remaining 8.6% were either fifty or older or in their teens. This group is quite geek/otaku oriented, so there is perhaps a higher level of knowledge of technical matters on display here than in similar surveys with other groups. Note also that sample sizes for each question were not explicitly mentioned so my figures might be wrong.

This is a great survey for me: in Q3, why do people expect SoftBank to carry it? Does it fit their image? Do they imagine they will outbid everyone in desperation? For me, au by KDDI seems a better fit, but I also feel SoftBank would pay anything to get the reseller rights. In Q5, the seemingly odd choice of One Seg (digital terrestrial) television support seems to be the feature most people want to see, and almost a third want the browser downgraded to standard mobile site support, both ahead of what I might have predicted, namely electronic cash support and ring tones. Finally, only Sony and Sharp are seen as being able to top the iPhone, whereas I think Nokia might be able to do something, but they don’t even feature in the list of companies!

Research results

Q1: Do you know about the mobile phone called the iPhone? (Sample size=1,341)

Just heard the name16.2%
First I’ve heard of it13.6%

Q2: Do you know about Apple’s iPod? (Sample size=1,341)

Know of it, and own one26.6%
Know of it, but own different portable music player43.7%
Know of it, but don’t have a portable music player27.6%
Don’t know it2.1%

Q3: If the iPhone comes on sale in Japan, which mobile phone carrier do you expect will sell it? (Sample size=1,341)

au by KDDI19.6%
NTT DoCoMo17.1%

Q4: If your current mobile phone carrier were to sell the iPhone, would you want to buy it? (Sample size=1,341)

Depending on the price I’d look into it22.0%
Depending on the situation I’d look into it40.2%
Not interested28.2%

Q5: If the iPhone were to go on sale in Japan, what extra features would you expect to see? (Sample size=1,341, multiple answer)

One Seg television44.6%
High-speed transmission37.1%
GPS or other location information services36.2%
Smaller size34.6%
Memory cards, memory expansion33.1%
High resolution camera33.1%
Mobile browser32.2%
FeliCa support (Suica, Pasmo, other contactless IC Card cash solutions)28.9%
Larger capacity26.2%
Exchangeable battery23.9%
Downloadable application support22.3%
Ring tones, ring tunes17.8%
Two-in-one support (two numbers, two mail addresses)12.2%

Q6: If a different mobile phone carrier were to sell the iPhone, would you want to switch service provider? (Sample size=1,341)

Not interested, don’t want to switch57.0%
Actively investigate it27.4%
If I could keep same number I’d want to switch12.0%
Even if I had to change numbers I’d want to switch3.6%

Q7: Which mobile phone manafacturer could match or surpass the iPhone’s high level of functionality and design? (Sample size=1,341)

Sony Ericsson29.8%
None could surpass the iPhone17.4%
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