Japan’s quirky, cloistered mobile world highlighted and challenged by Apple’s iPhone 3G

“Kentaro Tohyama is proud of his new iPhone. He stood overnight in line to get it when the device became available in Japan for the first time. But the 29-year-old computer engineer isn’t about to part with his made-in-Japan cell phone either,” Yuri Kageyama reports for The Associated Press. “That kind of cautious response to the July 11 arrival of Apple Inc.’s phone appears common in Japan.”

“The iPhone was welcomed here with long lines of gadget fans. But it’s also being seen as shockingly alien to this nation’s quirky and closed mobile world… For example, young people in Japan take for granted the ability to share phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other contact information by beaming it from one phone to another over infrared connections. Being without those instantaneous exchanges would be the death knell on the Japanese dating circuit,” Kageyama reports. “While the iPhone has Bluetooth wireless links, it has no infrared connection.”

“Also missing from Steve Jobs’ much-praised design: a hole in the handset for hanging trinkets. Westerners may scoff at them as childish, but having them is a common social practice in Japan,” Kageyama reports.

MacDailyNews Take: Get an iPhone case that offers a hole for hanging trinkets. “Problem” solved.

Kageyama continues, “Softbank Corp., the Japanese carrier of the iPhone, said it sold out of the devices on the first day. But it did not reveal how many had been available. One clue comes from GfK Marketing Services Japan Ltd., which said Softbank sold half of all mobile phones in Japan that day, up from a typical 19 percent.”

“Many Japanese buyers were curious about the iPhone’s sleek design. And some acknowledged that the device might show the Japanese market some new tricks,” Kageyama reports. “Tohyama’s eyes were opened by the iPhone’s quick access to the Internet, much like that of a personal computer. Some Japanese cell phones show Web pages, but access on even the latest models is slower than on the iPhone. Most Japanese phones don’t present as colorful a picture as the iPhone does… ‘Until I owned an iPhone, I didn’t see as clearly how closed Japanese content was,’ Tohyama said. ‘It was not a global standard at all.'”

More in the full article here.


  1. @ Ampar,

    You forgot Windoze Raving etc. comments, “You loser fanbois who suk Job’s ******* and drool whenever your master intros some new craptastic product are so lame, MAC suxxors and Vista is teh Bomb!”

  2. The Japanese need a developer to make a Trinket App that allows teens to display their trinkets on the touchscreen and trade them via WiFi.

    While they’re at it .. the Catholics could use a Confessional App with some Rosary Beads to fondle. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  3. What is racist about trinkets? Childish yes, racist no. Tattoos and piercings are childish as well, no matter how many cultures condone them.

    Saying Japanese phones without belt clips would not sell in America is not racist either. Cell phone belt clips are just as stupid as trinket rings. Cell phones on belt clips are modern six shooter belt holsters. Kids playing cowboys.

    Grow up.

  4. You can’t glue the trinkets on the iPhone and they can’t be software based because they need to dangle. They hang on an inch or two of string where they swing and swoosh and swoop as you fiddle on your phone. Oh, they also blink furiously in multiple colors when a call comes in. Sometimes the string is tough and long enough as in a necklace so that you can ‘wear’ your phone and prevent you from losing it and needing to remember where you put the thing. More trinkets can then be bought individually and attached individually depending on your style and mood. IT’S EFFING AWWWESOMEEE!

  5. Hopefully the Japanese will find the iPhone inspiring enough to make a phone that can actually compete with the iPhone’s features. Till then they will just have to complain about their missing pet features, like everyone else does.

  6. Every culture has specific wants/needs for its social scene. If beaming your contact info between phones is the social norm, anyone who hands a paper business card out in a bar is going to look like a fool.

    If hanging stuff from your phone is cool, then people who want the iPhone will buy a case with a loop on it to hang their stuff. I’m sure case makers will have cool cases to compliment the typical stuff people hang from their phones. Personally, that would annoy me to no end, but I don’t live in Japan.

    Europe didn’t adopt the iPhone quickly either because it wasn’t 3G, which is what Europeans expect for a phone. However, don’t expect Apple to add infrared just for the Japanese market; it’s a dying technology and such beaming may be accomplished by a Wi-Fi app in the near future anyway. That would allow you to send more than just contact info, anyway.

  7. MDN titles: “Japan’s quirky, cloistered mobile world…”
    My question: have you been there? Or are you talking about americas yet underdevelopped phone system?
    In fact Japan has the MOST unquirky phone system of the planet! There, you almost don’t need any extra credit card and almost no driver’s licence because so much is already well fixed just with your cellular phone…

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