How Apple’s iPhone won over Japan and gave the world emoji

“Although there were teething pains associated with using an iPhone in Japan at first, the product’s breakthroughs were no less revolutionary here. Apple’s brand was already very strong, and the iPhone was always going to find at least some audience among Japan’s affluent, tech-savvy consumers,” Sam Byford writes for The Verge. “But it wouldn’t have reached critical mass without some extremely aggressive moves from its initial carrier partner, SoftBank.”

“SoftBank secured exclusive rights to the iPhone in Japan much like AT&T did in the US. Japanese carriers, however, were traditionally far more involved in the development of phones, and Japan’s two biggest — KDDI and the dominant NTT Docomo — refused to sell the iPhone for years,” Byford writes. “This gave SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, a longtime friend and admirer of Steve Jobs, an opening to differentiate his also-ran network. Son deployed audacious pricing and smart marketing campaigns to position the iPhone as an exotic, advanced, and attainable device. I got my 3G in 2009 for essentially nothing via a campaign called ‘iPhone for everybody.'”

U.S. President Donald Trump and Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son in December 2016
U.S. President Donald Trump and Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son in December 2016
“The SoftBank CEO’s relationship with Jobs also helped Apple tailor the iPhone for Japan,” Byford writes. “‘Masayoshi Son was quick to start persuading Apple how important emoji is in the Japanese market and Apple decided to make the change,’ veteran Japanese tech journalist Nobuyuki Hayashi tells me. ‘If the initial iPhone carrier were someone else, I am not sure if they could successfully persuade Steve Jobs to add emoji to the iPhone.'”

Much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Kakumei-teki!

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  1. Does the author still live here in Japan? At the end of the article he mentions ApplePay not working here and then ends the article…… Apple Pay is indeed here. And while it is not (yet) as ubiquitous as Felica/Suica/Nanaco et al, it is here and being ‘pushed’.

  2. I rarely use those teeny symbol thingies. I’ve been sufficiently challenged by having to choose accurately from the usual alphanumeric characters.

    And emoji still sounds to me like something you adjust under the hood of a car before cranking up the gizmo.

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