Although I started out as somewhat of a skeptic about the iPhone, mainly in reaction to the blanket news coverage it has been receiving, reflecting on the situation I now consider that the iPhone has what it takes to be big in Japan; indeed to become the very first foreign mobile phone (Sony-Ericsson doesn’t countas foreign!) to be a success in Japan’s rather insular market. There are, however, a small number of additions and modifications that I propose Apple must make to the hardware, software, and design before they can consider selling it in Japan.
iPhone: Japan’s carriers
Looking at the market image of the three big mobile phone carriers, namely NTT DoCoMo, au by KDDI, and SoftBank, the most natural fit would be au, as according to many surveys they have the strongest image for being on the leading edge and for supporting music playback on their phones. However, if a bidding war starts, SoftBank may be prepared to lay the most cash on the table as they are most desparate for customers, and with Cameron Diaz and Bradd Pitt pushing an American image of talking on the phone for SoftBank, SoftBank’s president Masayoshi Son may see the iPhone as a natural extension of his brand. Therefore, I predict there will be a SoftBank iPhone on the shelves early next year.