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Why Japan Hates the iPhone

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the one-man's-cool-is-another-man's-lame dept.

Cellphones 884

Ponca City, We love you writes "With a high level of technical sophistication, critical customers, and high innovation rate, Japan is the toughest cell phone market in the world. So it's not surprising that although Apple is the third-largest mobile supplier in the world, selling 10 million units in 2008, in Japan the iPhone is selling so poorly it's being offered for free. The country is famous for being ahead of its time when it comes to technology, and the iPhone just doesn't cut it. For example, Japanese handset users are into video and photos — and the iPhone has neither a video camera, multimedia text messaging, nor a TV tuner. Pricing plans in Japan are also very competitive, and the iPhone's $60-and-up monthly plan is too high compared to competitors; a survey lat year showed that among Japanese consumers, 91% didn't want to buy an iPhone. The cellular weapon of choice in Japan would be the Panasonic P905i, a fancy cellphone that doubles as a 3-inch TV and features 3-G, GPS, a 5.1-megapixel camera, and motion sensors for Wii-style games. 'When I show this to visitors from the US, they're amazed,' according to journalist Nobi Hayashi, who adds, 'Carrying around an iPhone in Japan would make you look pretty lame.'"

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Mod Me Down But ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011181)

It's because it has a larger penis than they do?

That's not nice. (-1, Troll)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011331)

ATT has bent over backward for wiretaps, helped make the US 27th in broadband penetration and worked with other US carriers to force crap like Windows Mobil that makes iPhone look good but calling them "penis" is below the belt. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Re:That's not nice. (1, Offtopic)

Camann (1486759) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011419)

I could be wrong but I thought AC was making an attempt at a South Park reference [wikipedia.org] . Apparently mod(s) agrees with you.

warning (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011447)

The user "twitter" is a twitter sockpuppet.

Using an iPhone makes you look pretty lame? (3, Funny)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011211)

In Japan, only old people use iPhones?

Re:Using an iPhone makes you look pretty lame? (0, Offtopic)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011245)

Not trolling, making a joke. I guess you forgot "In Korea, only old people use email..."

Japan hates the iPhone (4, Funny)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011213)

Oh no, it has become self-aware!

maybe the reviews just don't translate well. (1, Redundant)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011223)

After all, what's japanese for "but it's shiny and pretty and I WANT ONE NOW

Re:maybe the reviews just don't translate well. (5, Funny)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011289)

*in your best schoolgirl voice*

Kawaii~~~

or alternatively
*breathing heavily and drooling*

Moe~~~

Re:maybe the reviews just don't translate well. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011395)

Depending on whether it's set to vibrate?

Re:maybe the reviews just don't translate well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011741)

that reminds me of the iBrator. I don't remember the website number :(

Re:maybe the reviews just don't translate well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011299)

After all, what's japanese for "but it's shiny and pretty and I WANT ONE NOW

Konichiwa?

Re:maybe the reviews just don't translate well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011301)

ã--ãã--ããããSå...æã®ãäSã®ãOEãã

That's Google language tools for you...

Want to know what Linux can do? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011335)

The Panasonic phone runs Linux.

It's also buggy as hell (as all Japanese phones are), but I suppose if 3 inches of Japanese TV gives you a woody, get a plane ticket, man.

Re:Want to know what Linux can do? (-1, Flamebait)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011477)

Japan is the location of choice for under-endowed transvestites?

(probably better innuendos to be had out of that post but I had to try...)

Re:Want to know what Linux can do? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011693)

to try.. and FAIL

also, Fuck You

Re:Want to know what Linux can do? (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011509)

It's totally true... their gadgets are indeed bleeding edge, but American consumers wouldn't put up with the buggy nature of their gadgetry. We eventually get much of the same stuff, after the Japanese public has been kind enough to beta test it for us :)

By the way, even by slashdot standards... this is REALLY old news. Forbes was claiming the iPhone was doomed in Japan [forbes.com] over a year ago. If it succeeded despite all of that, well THAT would be some news.

Re:Want to know what Linux can do? (1)

NinjaCoder (878547) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011647)

But does the Panasonic phone do cut-n-paste? I am flabbergasted that this is not possible on an iphone as standard. Or has there been an update?

Re:Want to know what Linux can do? (3, Funny)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011675)

I'll channel the average Apple fanboy and just say that copy-and-paste is an unnecessary feature that only makes things more difficult to use. You should be glad there's no cumbersome copy-and-paste feature! Apple knows best.

What's new? (3, Interesting)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011225)

Japanese products have been so over-the-top and over-engineered for the past 25 years, this hardly comes as any surprise. I mean, just take a look at the current Honda Civic dashboard and compare it to a German car's dashboard. The Honda is all gadget-y and digital-y and the German car is just, well, Teutonic-ly svelte. Maybe the saying "there's no accounting for bad taste" doesn't ring true in Japan.

Re:What's new? (5, Insightful)

rshol (746340) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011261)

Or maybe good taste is relative and not an absolute.

Re:What's new? (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011427)

The Japanese seem to have a talent for doing everything to excess. Sometimes that's a good thing, such as when they decide to make something sleek and efficient. Then you get, say, the 1989 Nissan 240SX, with a .26 CD, 30 MPG freeway on 87 octane (the Japanese version probably does better, but on more expensive fuel) and some of the best handling ever seen in a sports car of its class. Other times they decide to gewgaw it up to the max, and you get any Sony Vaio product with buttons that fall off and shit. Er, do I have a bone to pick? Anyway the point is that you can find ample examples of both, but I think you're right about the electronics these days. Not that I can load the page that shows their favorite phone. Personally I just want a fucking eyetap built into some Oakley M-frames with photo-gray tint, and a discreet wearable computer so I don't look like a total tard at all times, and I want it to replace all of my computers or at least their current interfaces. What's better than a monitor with a privacy filter? No monitor, and no keyboard either. Then I can jerk around with my own virtual interfaces all I want.

Re:What's new? (3, Funny)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011521)

Obligatory: [wikipedia.org]

What about my electronic lavvy? It comes when you call, takes your trousers down, does everything - it's just so stylish.

Due to hit the Japanese market in... what, three years?

Re:What's new? (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011585)

http://z.about.com/d/cars/1/0/W/u/ag_07e63_dash.jpg [about.com]

vs

http://z.about.com/d/cars/1/0/W/u/ag_07e63_dash.jpg [about.com]

of course, we're comparing a cheap family car with an upmarket one, but quite honestly, neither seems to be designed with a great deal of taste. If anything, the Honda looks a little more stylish without all the 1970s faux-walnut trim. ;-)

Re:What's new? (2, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011727)

I have a one-word rebuttal:
iDrive [wikipedia.org]

To be fair, it's much better now... but WOW, what a price to pay for a spartan dashboard!

Also, you have to consider that the market for the Honda Civic in no way overlaps with any German car. Even the Volkswagen marketing doesn't really overlap too much. The street racing crowd is not going to be showing off too many Rabbits or Jettas.

But I agree with you and think the VW Rabbit dash [rankingsandreviews.com] looks better than the Civic dash [rankingsandreviews.com] . Mostly I object to the silvery trim, but most of what I see is that VW cost-cuts by using a symmetric dash where they can just plop the driver's side gear for left or right-hand drive. The Honda is clearly designed for left-hand only. I can certainly see how people who desire a bit more bling would like the Honda.

Don't be so surprised. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011229)

For one, the Japanese are well ahead of the West in terms of cellphone technology, as witnessed by the description of the P905i. For the Japanese, the 3G iPhone is old hat.

In addition, unlike in the U.S., where we love Japanese products, the Japanese hate our products. They're very biased towards home-grown stuff. They typically steer clear of imports. Imports are generally more expensive in Japan due to tariffs and such, too.

Re:Don't be so surprised. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011417)

I think it's more than that. In Japan, space is very constrained and most of the phones I saw there were flip phones. This gave the user a modicum of privacy, even on crowded transport. iPhones simply aren't made with that type of concern in mind.

Re:Don't be so surprised. (5, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011439)

Indeed.

The Japanese make a mockery of WTO "free trade" regulations on a daily basis, but they get away with because they're a relatively small market compared to the US. By contrast, when some of us in the US suggest that maybe we should switch to "fair trade" that imposes tariffs on goods imported from places that have zero environmental protection laws and pay out slave-labor wages (to even the playing field), we get shouted at about "protectionism."

The Japanese also have a major cultural complex about what is "true japanese." If you have one grandparent who wasn't born in Japan (or worse yet, isn't ethnically asian), it doesn't matter that your family may have been there for 75 years, as far as they are concerned you're still a gaijin. If you're there for tourism, grand, but trying to live there and get employment, or even someday fit into Japanese society as a gaijin? Might as well forget it unless you're going to be an Engrish teacher [engrish.com] (and even then, the "natives" will get promoted above you every time).

American and European products? Well, that's gaijin stuff.

Re:Don't be so surprised. (4, Interesting)

SilverJets (131916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011613)

While your argument does hold some merit to the "discrimination" against foreign products the most likely reason for the iPhone hate is that it does not function the way most Japanese people need it to. When I was in Tokyo last year, for every 10 people I saw using a cell phone 9 of them were texting and most of them had a flip phone. In fact I found the size of the phones to be quite funny because they looked like the early flip phones...very large.

Having seen and played around with an iPhone I can see why it would not appeal to people who just text with their phone. Especially when riding on a train so that you are holding on to the railing with one hand and texting with the other. Also, the keyboard on the iPhone takes up screen space. Why would you want to lose a lot of the screen to a touch keybpad when you can get a phone that has a separate screen and keypad?

Re:Don't be so surprised. (2, Informative)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011849)

Indeed, although also in Europe, whilst perhaps not as advanced as Japan, we've still had things like 3G and Internet access in even non-"smart" phones for years, and we wonder what all the fuss is about.

This is because Japanese people are smart (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011237)

Have you ever noticed that they speak some strange version of the Mexican language and look unlike us? Also their food is expensive because we eat cows which are large, plentiful and docile animals, while Japanise people only eat fearsome and rare SHARKS to boast of their manliness. In conclusion, Japan is a far away place somewhere in Mexico where smart people do not eat cows. Thank you will you marry me.

How come it's only in Japan (1, Redundant)

guruevi (827432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011241)

Why don't we get these type of phones in Europe or the US? I think we have a large market as well and some of these phones would be welcomed. Instead we're stuck with crappy phones and the iPhone is nearly the best well known product we can get. Where is our 3G? Where is our full speed internet and cable tv on a phone?

Re:How come it's only in Japan (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011317)

At least here in Finland 3G with GPS and cameras are nothing new. TV would be useless because we too have our MPAA/RIAA equivalent organizations that make sure that nothing innovative can happen with the content that they control.

Re:How come it's only in Japan (2, Interesting)

NinjaCoder (878547) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011733)

My Nokia N96 has a tv decoder built-in (for the new DVB-H standard). However, in all the countries I have travelled to in Europe since I got it, only in Finland (in Turku) could I actually get channels.

Re:How come it's only in Japan (5, Insightful)

fictionpuss (1136565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011341)

Because we're at the behest of the phone companies, not the other way around. They can comfortably sit on technology, and decide when to release/market it for the most $$$.

Then not only are you stuck with older technology, you're locked out of exploiting that technology to its fullest extent, by the same companies who have a secondary market peddling crappy closed source software.

Roll on OpenMoko.

Re:How come it's only in Japan (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011837)

Because we're at the behest of the phone companies, not the other way around.

The situation in Japan is as bad, if not worse. Until recently, foreign phones wouldn't work at all in Japan. And the whole market is run by 3 companies, who just like in the US, pretty tightly control the network. At least in the US you can sign up with T-Mobile or AT&T and use any GSM phone (though that won't necessarily get you 3G).

The fact is that in Japan the consumers want these crazy gadget phones, even if they don't really work 100% of the time. The US does not have that kind of demand... the closest thing to gadget crazed masses that we have are teenagers, and they seem to be placated by things like the Sidekick... and of course the iPhone.

Re:How come it's only in Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011363)

The japanese phones have an actual antenna you fold out when you want tv. It's not coming via the turbo-3g or whatever.

Re:How come it's only in Japan (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011431)

Two things.

First, they have a completely locked down, proprietary phone network, where it is absolutely impossible to do anything without express permission from the network operator.

Second, have you tried using a piece of Japanese consumer electronics? They're absolutely terrible. While the Japanese can handle electronics pretty well, they have no clue at all about user interface design, and their culture values having fifty million features crammed onto a device with none of them being slightly useful over having a device that does a few things very well.

Re:How come it's only in Japan (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011669)

You have to give them credit for stuffing their written language onto a keypad like they do, though.

Re:How come it's only in Japan (5, Interesting)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011545)

We don't get these kinds of telephones in Europe or the US because the... Wait for it... They...

SUCK!

No, seriously, they absolutely suck. I've been using the phones here for a few years, and one of the main features they have is that they're an implementation of a checklist of features you'll never use more than one or twice, all crammed into the least user-friendly UI you could imagine.

They have absolutely no sense of UI design, and being so used to dealing with crappy interfaces they're not even aware of the possibility nor the advantages of a well designed one. Seriously, have you ever looked at one of their webpages?

Call it taste, or what ever. But the reality is that the iPhone and phones from e.g. Nokia just don't do it well here in Japan, and neither of the two companies should try to change or they'll lose what gives them customers in the west.

Oh, and BTW... Softbank's (particulary their iPhone's) subscription plan sucks.

Re:How come it's only in Japan (5, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011867)

Because all these articles are talking rubbish. Japan is not ahead of us here, they just don't want the same thing as us. I explicitly don't want a phone that's a 3" TV, I don't want a phone that's a 5 megapixel camera with a shit lens, I don't want a phone that's a video camera, I don't want a phone that can send MMSes (especially when it can send email).

I want a phone that's simple to use, beautiful, and gets on with being a phone, which the iPhone is absolutely ideal for.

p.s. I *definitely* don't want a phone shaped like hello kitty.

of course (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011265)

The iPhone is inferior in lots of ways. It has NO stereo bluetooth support! It also lacks bluetooth IP networking for tethering to your laptop, and it doesn't use the standard USB mini-B cable.

The iPhone needs a lot of improvement before I would consider it.

Re:of course (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011435)

It has NO stereo bluetooth support! It also lacks bluetooth IP networking for tethering to your laptop, and it doesn't use the standard USB mini-B cable.

*shrug*, when I look for a phone none of these things are even a consideration for me. I don't use bluetooth for anything and I really don't care about what USB cable is used as long as I can transfer what I need to the device quickly.

Personally there are plenty of choices out there in phones because people have different needs and tastes. The iPhone isn't anywhere near the perfect mobile device (actually far from it) but it does what it does very well. I am a mass transit rider and I love the video/music player and the web browser. I used to own a T-mobile Sidekick and I really miss the keyboard on that device as well as the background application running. It's been difficult for me to get used to the fact that I am not available on AIM 24/7 wherever I am.

You take the good with the bad and you weigh your options before choosing your device. I decided that the media component of the iPhone was far superior to other devices I tried and that was more important to me on my commutes, especially after a 5.5" of snow falls after 12 PM in Minneapolis crushing the roadways during rush hour.

YMMV.

Re:of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011629)

well, jailbreak with backgrounder can run things in the background

or without jailbreak, several of the im apps in the store offer offline email notification, combined with push and you're good. beejiveim works fairly well for this.

Re:of course (-1, Flamebait)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011827)

It's enough for you because you are a level zero geek. Those above you in the hierarchy of geekdom have many gadgets, and don't want to have to haul around multiple, incompatible chargers. They also want all their devices networked and using the full capabilities of technologies like bluetooth. To us, a music device which lacks stereo wireless audio is an absurdity.

If you have simple needs, and a simple device like an iPhone meets them, then more power to you. But don't assume those more savvy than yourself have only your simple needs.

Re:of course (2, Insightful)

Flaggday (1373017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011583)

The USB mini-B cable may be "standard", but the iPod dock connector is plentiful. Check households, office desks, backpacks, and I bet you'll find it much easier to locate a dock connector than a USB mini-B to anything.

Re:of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011731)

Somehow I'm guessing the number of cameras and non-apple mp3 players sold in recent times somewhat outnumber the number of ipods sold. Even my parents could probably find several USB mini-B leads in their house.

Re:of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011625)

It also lacks bluetooth IP networking for tethering to your laptop, and it doesn't use the standard USB mini-B cable.

No, it has neither of those for teathering. It uses the much faster WiFi teathering method.
You create an ad-hoc wireless network on one device (IE your laptop) then join the iPhone to it and run your netshare app on the iPhone. Much better range than bluetooth. It's technically faster, but 3G is your bottle neck so it doesn't matter much.

Your point about the bluetooth stereo is right on (as well as every other bluetooth service they did not include, such as all of them)

Personally I see the lack of mini-b usb a Good thing, as I personally make more use of the other non-data related signals off the iPhone dock jack, far more than the usb functionality, which I mainly only use to charge the phone at home. My car dock charges it via the firewire power in (As it's 12v instead of 5v) and use the audio in/out, video, and serial port features heavily.

But for just charging and syncing with a mac, I can still see your side of that too.

Re:of course (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011737)

But it always goes back to the original iPod review on /.
"No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

There is a schism between the features crowd and the functions well crowd. Apple bridges that well enough for the American market to come up with products people really want. But the problem has always been the solely American-centric focus. Japanese and many other markets don't have the same tastes. Perhaps the Japanese are more toward the features side and are techy enough not to worry about seamless integration (I have no idea).

Let's face it: the killer app on the iPhone are two things: seamless integration among components (hardware/software) and now the App Store - giving you thousands of capabilities that competitors don't have now (but easily can). (Balmer: Developers, developers, developers!!!)

But you can't go into foreign markets with the exact same thing, prices, etc and expect not to be completely beaten up. Just like most domestic US cars are unsellable almost everywhere else: they are simply too big in both exterior and motor size.

Apple is a design house. It's problem is that it is so centralized and secretive, it's hard for it to compete in other markets. It needs design houses in other countries to start competing elsewhere. And be willing to individualize their approach to regions/countries.

Re:of course (2, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011857)

You can "design" until you are blue in the face but in the end of the day a 2 pound bag of shit with a pink bow tie is still a 2 pound bag of shit.

People's feelings will not change just because you changed your name from Diebold to Premier Election services or whatever they're called now.

Proof (3, Interesting)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011275)

While I love the iPhone and think it's damn cool, things like this are (to me) just another piece of proof that the North American (and western society, in general) cell phone markets are set up to discourage innovation and advancement and are, instead, designed to ensure lock-in with particular vendors and suppliers. We _NEED_ regulators to step in and start putting companies in their places. That will open up innovation and encourage manufacturers to make better products to compete for consumer dollars. Also, regulators need to force carriers to provide better plans at reasonable rates. But, since a lot of people are getting rich off of the current stifling system, I won't be holding my breath for that sort of change to happen... We will continue to remain behind the times.

Re:Proof (5, Insightful)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011497)

Maybe we just need stop believing that we all must have a cell phone and stop buying the crap about which you are complaining? Or we all buy stripped down, inexpensive models with basic plans.

What you may not be factoring in is that the vast majority of the American cell phone-buying public thinks the iPhone is the greatest thing since sliced bread. They don't care about Linux, and they don't know what Japan is doing outside of their anecdotal awareness that the Japanese are very tech-savvy.

If you want the government to force cell phone companies and carriers to do anything it will cost you tax dollars - probably a greater amount relative to the time you will have to wait for the cell phone companies/carriers to come to your awareness in their own time.

Re:Proof (3, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011861)

Cell phones in asia are less tools, and more fashion statements. They're like your designer handbags or fancy shoes, except priced at a point even teenagers would be able to and do afford multiple phones. And because the major networks are GSM, people can easily switch phones to match their current attire with a swap of a SIM card. This means there's insane competition in Japan, and it means there's a huge drive for continuous innovation to stay ahead of the fashion curve (it's fashionable to be tech-competent over there). To even begin to do that here, the government needs to do a few relatively minor, but important things:

1) Encourage open infrastructure. Basically, undo everything the FCC has been doing for the past 8 years. If a government grant was used to build a network, then the operator should be forced to lease the network to a third party for wholesale prices. Or, put network operators in the same class as gas and electric companies, and heavily regulate them.

2) Encourage open standards within the government. The government should encourage standardization based on open standards. It should give grants to organizations that work towards such ends, and stipulate that by taking government money, the result is public domain. That eliminates a lot of barriers to entry to a market.

3) Return the rights to the people. That means outlawing anti-competitive exclusivity clauses and the likes. Forcing phone carriers to make their numbers portable was a great move. That trend of forcing interoperability has to continue. For example, France requires unlocked versions of phones to be sold alongside their locked version.

4) Remove the teeth of patent trolls. The patent system needs to be significantly overhauled. As the system exists currently, patents stifle innovation, not encourage it.

Doing this won't change the culture overnight. But I'm certain we'll start to see improvements within 5 years.

Re:Proof (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011869)

You get it, and you deserve a gold star. Consumers want to blame business for their own stupidity. Well, duh! You let someone get the, relatively speaking, better end of the deal by your own consistent action! Wake up and start shopping around and doing comparison shopping instead of buying what you saw on the TV commercial or because your friend bought it!

Re:Proof (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011665)

Pfft... Are you an imbecile or something?

I grew up in Norway, probably one of the few countries with higher cost of living than Japan. Yet my mobile phone subscription back home was _much_ cheaper than the one I got here in Japan now.

Not only are they damn expensive (everyone is hooked already), but the only regulations that ever get made here are those that benefit the bureaucrats. Consumer protections is a concept they might have heard of, once long ago, and promptly forgotten.

The question we really should ask us isn't 'why is Japan so far ahead of us technologically', but rather 'why is Japan so far behind us in soft technologies?' You know, things like UI design, quality of life, etc?

Re:Proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011685)

We already have regulators for cellphones; it's called the FCC.

Re:Proof (1, Interesting)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011851)

You know, it's really funny, these pleas for the government to step in and make your life better.

Modern governments are, at their core, democratic (don't give me that Republic spiel, that's less true today than it ever was and the base of all republics is democracy anyway) and require at least plurality action to get a certain thing done.

Whereas, stuff like the cell phone market being stuffy is directly the result of lazy consumers--the same people that are also the only ones that can really enable change by electing politicians that will change things.

Politicians are also beholden to special interests, and in any case, whenever a politician does anything it is setting a normative value for other people and--maybe I'm too conservative-I don't see that as all a good thing.

If consumers want to change the market, they should stop ENABLING the market. Nobody is making you buy a shitty cell phone. You want it, you think you need it, so like a heroin addict needing a fix you keep on taking your poison, enabling the same thing you rally against. The modern citizen, the modern consumer, is perhaps one of the stupidest organisms on Earth. Spending resources on things they recognize as being shit, all the while hoping some karmic force sets about righteousness in the world, is not my idea of an intelligent, effective way to use your resources.

Of course, it's far too easy to just want God or Government to descend down from above and make everything better and force everyone to do exactly what you personally feel should be done.

Apple is often an offender of this. They heavily market the hell out of their above-average-but-overpriced products, and people buy them, unaware and apathetic that better things exist for cheaper.

Quit blaming the fucking "CORPORATIONS!!!" and stare into the fucking mirror for a change. It's easy to blame the drug dealer for the addict's habits but ultimately it's the addict that keeps coming back for more and is the one that can stop the self-destructive cycle.

Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011303)

Because the Japanese are smarter than Americans.

Well...The iPhone isnt that special... (4, Insightful)

TyrainDreams (982007) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011307)

Everyone still drools over the iPhone as if it has every feature of every phone and more! When it's just an on par smart device. Sure it has a lot of great features and the app store from apple, but there are far better phones in existence and its sure not going to get people who are being described as the peak of technological civilization(true or not).

I am happy with my HTC Vogue, it plays music...and has internet...I think it even makes calls...oh wait its the sprint network...so no, no calls...

Re:Well...The iPhone isnt that special... (1)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011409)

an iphone with a sliding keyboard, now that would be useful.

A smartphone without a keyboard is a bust for me. :-/

Re:Well...The iPhone isnt that special... (1)

TyrainDreams (982007) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011463)

I agree, that's one thing I wish my phone had, but i make do without. Android was ported to my phone, the on screen keyboard is actually usable. I was shocked at how well it does.

Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011325)

Apple makes cell phones now?

That phone description sounds familiar (3, Interesting)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011351)

and features 3-G, GPS, a 5.1-megapixel camera, and motion sensors for Wii-style games. 'When I show this to visitors from the US, they're amazed,'

Android G1 owners wouldn't be "amazed". After all, it they are describing a G1.

Re:That phone description sounds familiar (4, Interesting)

ribuck (943217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011449)

Take a look at this video of the Panasonic P905i. At first it looks like it has a similar form factor to the Android G1, until they morph it from a slider to a flip-phone and pull out the digital TV aerial. Seriously cool!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6J5EtiQ1ps [youtube.com]

An indictment of Japan, really (3, Interesting)

malice (82026) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011667)

The Panasonic P905i wouldn't appeal to me at all. I really don't think of a cell phone that doubles as a portable TV is particularly innovative; I think it's rather sad.

I saw this all over Japan, people watching TV on the subway... and meanwhile the Internet access and web capabilities of this phone, and others in Japan, are quite poor relative to what the iPhone or G1 can do.

I'm sorry, but being able to watch live TV on a cell phone is not "OMG, it's so advanced, I want it" in my book.

Re:That phone description sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011603)

Except that the Android G1 is the phone copying the japanese ones, not the other way, like you're disingeniously implying.

Re:That phone description sounds familiar (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011723)

While the G1 is nice, don't give it all the credit, HTC makes a lot of other nice phones too. I have the Touch Pro, which has 3G, GPS, a 3 megapixel camera, and an accelerometer just like the G1. It has a capacitive scroll wheel (like the iPod) instead of a scroll nub, though.

so, where's the surprise (0, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011373)

apple wasnt able to sell a product on the premise of being 'hip' and 'cool' for once. japanese preferred function over cool factor. hipster ads didnt cut it. to the extent that apple didnt see any issues with offering the phone almost free with various subscriptions. all the while customers in u.s. being locked in, tortured, and belittled if they wanted to do more with their phone by unlocking it, after paying exorbitant amounts. there's nothing to defend about apple - only way one can do this in this thread and subject, would be probably due to sheer fanboyism. bad. fanboyism is little different from religious fundamentalism.

Makes you look pretty lame here too... (2, Insightful)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011399)

...seriously, why don't people just either burn their money or donate it directly to Apple? No flash? No Java? Apple decides whether or not someone can sell/distribute an application? Have to buy a Crapintosh to develop for it?

Why do people accept this kind of behavior from Apple, but not other companies? Weird...

Re:Makes you look pretty lame here too... (1)

loutr (626763) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011547)

No other companies ?

How about MS, Sony, RIAA/MPAA members, ... ?

People don't care about what they buy/use, they just get what they're used to, or what is considered hip by their TV programs or magazines.

No tentacles (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011405)

They don't like the iPhone because it doesn't have 100 tentacles that spring out of it and rape every school girl within a hundred feet. Also, there's no Bukake Cartridge so you can squirt your friends. Isn't it obvious how far we are behind the Japanese in innovation? If I want to violate a girl with my iPhone I have to put it on vibrate, stick it into her nether region, and keep calling myself.

Only in Japan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011413)

>Carrying around an iPhone in Japan would make you look pretty lame.

Correct me if I'm wrong but carrying around an iphone anywhere is going to make you look pretty lame.

Pretty lame? (5, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011429)

"'Carrying around an iPhone in Japan would make you look pretty lame.'"

God, how I wish I could get that Japanese cellphone with built-in 3" TV (Panasonic P905i) because I've always chosen cellphones out of regard of what Japanese teenagers might think of me! :-p

Sorry, I'll just stick with the iPhone, and upgrade to a phone based on Android when it matures. I would have love to have gone with an openmoko phone but that platform was pretty much stillborn. :(

Japanese cellphones are way way ahead of ours? Next thing you know, you'll be telling us that third-world countries have faster interweb access than we do - without bandwidth caps. This is old news.

A better title would have been (4, Funny)

Exitar (809068) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011437)

"Japan is immune to Reality Distortion Field"

Re:A better title would have been (4, Insightful)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011721)

Japan has its own Reality Distortion Field.

One that makes Jobs' RDF look like that worn-out magician at the street corner that never manages to get any of his lame tricks right.

Re:A better title would have been (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011747)

I think it's just that theirs strong enough to prevent ours from interfering.

Re:A better title would have been (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011765)

That theirs is

I can't type today. Must be using the iPhone keyboard. *ducks*

Re:A better title would have been (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011759)

Emperor Hirohito, anyone, anyone, Bueller?

Re:A better title would have been (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011807)

Immune to Apple's, maybe... But I'm sure they've got plenty of their own.

Different products for different markets. (2, Insightful)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011443)

The Japanese are buying a list of features: screen size, TV, radio, motion sensors, pedometer, email, circle of protection etc etc. A lot of tech-heads in the West like that approach and also make their decision based on the number of ticked boxes on the back of the display container.

The rest of us just want a phone that makes phone calls without having to click through 50 damn menus. And that looks kind of nice. That's the iPhone.

Re:Different products for different markets. (0, Flamebait)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011525)

The rest of us just want a phone that makes phone calls without having to click through 50 damn menus. And that looks kind of nice. That's the iPhone.

Great way to rationalize an inferior product.

Re:Different products for different markets. (1)

Alistair Hutton (889794) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011537)

I assume you are taking the piss, the iPhone has been marketed to death on it's functionality and extra features. I'm looking at a full page add on the back of the Guardian where it's pointing out the dozens of options and features it has. I don't even think making calls is mentioned.

A "phone that makes phone calls" is a £25 Pay-As-You-Go Nokia 1200, not a £240,000,000 240,000,000 month contract iPhone.

It's not really a Japan thing (1)

m0RpHeus (122706) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011471)

Outside of North America, the iPhone and other popular phones in North America (like Black Berry, G1, Windows Mobile phones, etc) are just another phone. People prefer other phones. In countries that use GSM, Nokia is still the king. In places, like countries like Japan and South Korea, the reason why the iPhone is not popular there is that the dominant cellphone network standard in use is not compatible with the iPhone (which uses GSM).

Text messaging? (3, Interesting)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011473)

multimedia text messaging

Japan has never even used "text messaging" as in the horribly lame and limited SMS - they use normal email for that. I don't think anybody is missing some kludgy extension to a protocol they never used in the first place, either.

free iphones from softbank (2, Informative)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011491)

Softbank is now offering the 8GB iPhone for free (with two year data plan). I saw this yesterday, and translated a quick summary on my site for the Japanese language-challenged: http://www.davejenkins.com/ [davejenkins.com]

Japan is unlike any other place in the world.... (2, Interesting)

blackchiney (556583) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011513)

Japan is unique in the fact that it's a sizeable market. Most western companies have attempted to market products there and failed. The only market that does well is American and European fashion.

I think this has to do with a little bit of NIH (not invented here) and poor understanding of the country. Hell even Microsoft with billions of dollars sunk into the XBox marketing can't make a dent there and there is only 2 competitors. On the other hand Sony did so poorly in the international mobile market they had to team up with Ericcson to bail them out. Product marketing in Japan is like the LOST bubble. We can't seem to get in and they can't seem to get out.

Konata's cellphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011561)

http://omoshiroi.info/omoblog/index.php/2007/08/04/konata_s_cell_phone [omoshiroi.info]

From the link:

Rundown of the basic specs:

Width: 50mm
Length: 111mm
Weight: 143g
Displays: 3.0" Main LCD, 0.8" Sub LCD
Cameras: 2.0MP main camera, 0.1MP secondary camera (video conferencing)

It also has a built in FM transmitter (for the car), a DVR mode for recording broadcasts, and a whole list of neat features that are pretty much standard on Japanese phones these days. Meanwhile, my phone is 4 years old and was obsolete when I got it. It can hardly make calls these days. I need a new one...

Oh, by the way, this phone was from 2 years ago. In Japan, it's already obsolete. Eat your heart out, Steve Jobs! X-3

Features =/ Good Phone (1)

Oceanplexian (807998) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011599)

I'll be honest, I own an iPhone so I'm a bit biased here, but this Japanese P905-whatever may have every feature under the sun, but it doesn't change the fact that it looks clumsy and (I'm assuming), like all Japanese phones it has a buggy non-intuitive mess of an OS.

Sure, I wish my iPhone had A2DP/HDTV/Satellite Whatever, but sometimes I just want to
get things done without being flashed by a bunch of LEDs

It's the Kanji support stupid (5, Informative)

putaro (235078) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011605)

Kanji input on the iPhone is as good as the other cell phones. Given that text messaging is a major use for cell phones, this is a big problem.

The UI on the iPhone blows away Japanese cell phones (I live in Japan and I use them all the time). The reason the iPhone isn't taking off as well in Japan is the kanji support and Softbank's piss poor marketing support. They have not done a good job of differentiating the iPhone from the other touch screen phones and, in fact, SoftBank carries several other touch screen phones which is confusing.

im really looking forward to that (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011619)

with the switch to digital tv signals in the usa this month, putting a receiver in cellphones for that signal is a no brainer

Re:im really looking forward to that (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011815)

If they put ATSC tuners in our cell phones, how else would they be able to push their overpriced TV over data services?

Makes me wonder (4, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011633)

Although the Japanese and a number of Asian countries are "ahead of us" (read USA) when it comes to technology, most Americans I know of still regard the USA to be the most technologically advanced country in the world. It baffles me.

Just last week, I was in Shanghai and I can say that from the Magnetic Levitation train to the technology that runs and manages public transit, those folks are way ahead of us.

When I rode the subway in New York on return to USA, you could not blame me for thinking I am in a country of the fifties. What's happened to the USA?

The question is... (1)

EricX2 (670266) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011655)

Why do others (America especially) put up with old technology? It didn't take me a week to realize the iPhone was nothing more than a gateway to the iTunes store with a touch screen an accelerometer and some basic phone features.

I agree (5, Funny)

2names (531755) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011709)

'Carrying around an iPhone in Japan would make you look pretty lame.'

It doesn't do much for your reputation in the U.S. either...

I like to use the old Bluetooth headset analogy.

Old Techie: "You know how lumberjacks will sometimes put a big red X on trees?"
Young Techie (who is wearing a bluetooth headset): "Like, yeah."
O.T.: "That big red X is a sign to other lumberjacks that the tree bearing it needs to be culled from the population."
Y.T.: "Culled. That's not really a word, is it?"
O.T.: "The bluetooth headset is the human equivalent."

/s/bluetooth\ headset/iPhone/g

wise nation (1)

whtvr (1213658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011739)

well... they may be selling panties in vending machines but there's still some wisdom left in Japan... iphone is after all just a toy in comparison to many phones out there and only people using it are either too stupid to use anything more sophisticated or simply do not need any more than iphone has to offer; that is fair enough but there's no point calling iphone high-end imnsho; and don't get me wrong, i'm not saying that it's not a good (for some) product or it's not innovative, it's simply not as awesome as many people may seem to believe

Why Japan Hates the iPhone (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011793)

Coulda fooled me. I'm pretty active with the Japanese community on campus where I go to school (including having a Japanese roommate) and a lot of them are going to Softbank as soon as they go back home to take advantage of the free iPhone [arstechnica.com] deal.

Japanese "usability" (5, Insightful)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011805)

Japan's culture of usability is "different" from ours to say the least.

Having worked in the electronics industry, I can tell you that Japanese users place high value on features and technical complexity. Mastering a technically complex device is viewed as an accomplishment.

Look at some of the electronics designed for the Japanese market - rows and rows of tiny buttons, incomprehensible menus, difficult to read displays; then look at electronics designed for the US market - touch screens, big legible fonts and buttons, simple - easy to navigate menus.

(Most of) western society places a high value on ease of use over functionality. Apple does very well in those markets. Japanese culture is very detail oriented and places value on technical complexity and function.

It's a culture thing, and Apple needs to understand that if they want to succeed in the Japanese market.

-ted

N95 (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011809)

Android phones? Johnny-come-latelies. The Nokia N95 was massively superior in many regards at European iPhone launch (even compared to its later 3G re-launch), but Europe doesn't really consider technical capabilities in what's 'cool'. Nor price (the N95 deals were also much better).
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