Know that lame guy at the party, the one who crashes in and gets on everyone's nerves? Well, according to Slashdot, CNET and others, when it comes to the Japanese mobile phone market, the iPhone has become that guy, effectively becoming the ?Barney? in the room. As a result, it looks like Softbank Mobile, the iPhone carrier in Japan, has resorted to giving the handset away for free.
Why? Japanese consumers are notoriously finicky about their tech, and mobile phones are no exception. It's here that Forbes wins the Crystal Ball award for prognostication. It predicted (way back in January of last year) that Apple would have a tough time breaching this Asian market.
Now everyone's looking at the country's current top-selling model, the Panasonic P905i, for comparison's sake, and the result is pretty revealing.
Photo via Forbes
Japan's cell phone users are hardcore about videos and photos, and the P905i's built-in TV tuner and 5 MP camera delivers. (That's in addition to features like 3G, GPS and accelerometer). Plus, clamshell design is big over there ? way more so than the candy-bar style of the iPhone.
The monthly plan is nothing to sneeze at either. The country's three cellular providers offer fiercely competitive rates, so for the average Japanese consumer, $60+ seems like a lot of bucks for not much bang.
According to Crunchgear, Softbank is responding to local market conditions by launching a new program today that gives the 8GB version away to customers who sign a new two-year agreement between now and May. (The old price in Japan was $235 for the 8GB model). The company is also discounting the 16GB phone to $118 (from $350) and the data plan by nearly $20 per month. This follows a price cut that was already implemented last August.
The news is definitely tough for an iPhone freak like me to swallow, but looking at all the juicy tech products available over there ? well, I?m not entirely surprised about the response. (Hmmm? Could this be the reason Apple just yanked emoji apps from the store? As some sort of retaliation? I wonder.)
Somewhere in America, John Walton ? PhoneDog editor and Android fiend ? is undoubtedly laughing about all this. He even tipped us off to this video, which had me rolling on the floor when I first saw it. Now I?m just shaking my head, sad that it's become a pretty accurate depiction of the phone in the Japanese mobile scene.
[edited to fix embedded vid]