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iPhone helps keep Softbank competitive, profitable in Japan

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Despite double-digit sales declines at rival NT DOCOMO and KDDI, Japan's Softbank, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone and third largest carrier in the country, continues to maintain the number one position in Japan for net new subscribers.

Softbank, posted a 9.7% year over year increase in its total number of subscribers for the most recent quarter ending in June 2009, along with improved handset sales during a particularly difficult sales climate.

Company president Masayoshi Son credited the allure of the iPhone, along with cost cutting measures, for the company's recession-defying results and its ability to attract customers away from other providers. Softbank has led mobile providers in net subscriber additions for the past two years.

While the Western media has celebrated the complexity and sophistication of Japan's smartphones, Son acknowledged that Japan's domestic handset manufacturers are struggling, in part due to being ghettoized by Japan's unique TDMA-based PDC standard in place for 2G mobile service. As the world converges upon UMTS as the 3G standard, Japanese phone makers will have a better opportunity to sell their phones outside of Japan, but they are already facing tough competition at home.

Japanese phone makers also face a carrier-dominated subsidy sales model similar to the US inside Japan, where subscribers are given expensive phones that appear to be free, and are then asked to pay huge phone bills to make up for it. In contrast, Softbank is selling the iPhone and its other handsets at more upfront rates, essentially marketing the phone using a 24 month installment plan.

In addition to the long term contracts that bind subscribers to their carriers, there are also fees involved with moving a phone number to another provider, something that US law forces carriers to do for free. Despite these barriers, Softbank continues to attract more net new subscribers and outperform its larger rivals in the Japanese market, something the advocates of more conventional Japanese phones are having a hard time explaining.
post #2 of 30
Yet another win for iPhone? I'd like to think so.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #3 of 30
And to think it was only last February Brian Chen was writing about
"Why The Japanese hate the iPhone"
<http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/02/why-the-iphone/>
Sure Brian, what ever you say.....
post #4 of 30
Ok, I have a question for the folks on this forum who are much smarter than me.

Is the Japanese iPhone useable in the US? I am currently stationed in Japan and would like to get an iPhone through Softbank, but they tell me I won't be able to use in when I rotate back to the States.

With all the talk from Apple and others about makng iPhone compatable with 3G networks world-wide, this seems a bit odd. Is there something different with the Japanese 3G vs US 3G?

Thanks
post #5 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by zener42 View Post

Ok, I have a question for the folks on this forum who are much smarter than me.

Is the Japanese iPhone useable in the US? I am currently stationed in Japan and would like to get an iPhone through Softbank, but they tell me I won't be able to use in when I rotate back to the States.

With all the talk from Apple and others about makng iPhone compatable with 3G networks world-wide, this seems a bit odd. Is there something different with the Japanese 3G vs US 3G?

Thanks

The hardware is the same but when you buy from Softbank you are basically locked into a 2 year contract unless you pay a lot more money (don't have the exact 3GS price but it is in the 80,000 JPY range). Have no idea if ATT will sell you just a contract and SIM card if you bring your iPhone from Japan.
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel Breckinridge View Post

And to think it was only last February Brian Chen was writing about
"Why The Japanese hate the iPhone"
<http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/02/why-the-iphone/>
Sure Brian, what ever you say.....

Good memory! I do remember that!...

In Japan of all places! This is a huge example of the iPhone's prowess!
post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel Breckinridge View Post

And to think it was only last February Brian Chen was writing about
"Why The Japanese hate the iPhone"
<http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/02/why-the-iphone/>
Sure Brian, what ever you say.....

Well heres some interesting stuff going back to 2007.

http://www.dannychoo.com/adp/eng/117...se+Phones.html

http://www.dannychoo.com/adp/eng/1522/iPhone+Japan.html

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...ne_market.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26329670/

And this last one is a refutation of Brian Chen's article. Very interesting and amusing considering that Hayashi was supposed to have told Brian some of the info that Brian's article is based upon, but it turns out to be NOT TRUE. Brian's article as seen now is not the same one that originally appeared.

This article is by the man himself, and a good, fun read:

http://blog.nobi.cc/2009/02/my-view-...i-hayashi.html
post #8 of 30
The reason for the upbeat sales is because Apple & Softbank have resorted to giving away the 8gb 3G for free with 2 year contract.

Neither Apple or SoftBank will confirm numbers for the 3GS.

So they are giving a 2 year phone away for Free and have resorted to lowering their monthly Bill.

For the 3GS they are breaking up the cost of the phone into your "Contract" for 2 years.

So for all the people that gave RIM/Blackberry shit for giving phones away to cook the numbers take a number and Kiss Rims Ass. Apple is copying they're sales model to attract new contracts.

http://www.getafreeiphone.org/2009/0...year-contract/
post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by iPhone1982 View Post

The reason for the upbeat sales is because Apple & Softbank have resorted to giving away the 8gb 3G for free with 2 year contract.

Neither Apple or SoftBank will confirm numbers for the 3GS.

So they are giving a 2 year phone away for Free and have resorted to lowering their monthly Bill.

For the 3GS they are breaking up the cost of the phone into your "Contract" for 2 years.

So for all the people that gave RIM/Blackberry shit for giving phones away to cook the numbers take a number and Kiss Rims Ass. Apple is copying they're sales model to attract new contracts.

http://www.getafreeiphone.org/2009/0...year-contract/

Also it's not that the Japanese hate the iPhone. It just not that desirable here. The Apple store and Softbank stores have people in there looking around and playing with the iPhone but there really aren't that many Japanese buying iPhones.

My best friend who is Japanese just bought a new Softbank phone because it has a 10MP camera. Don't get me started about MP. That's what he wanted so that's what he bought. I tried selling him on an iPhone but no go. He has a first gen iPod Touch.

Most Japanese who are interested in the iPhone don't end up buying it because the kanji input is too slow. For those that do buy it they are buying it because Japanese buy anything with a western brand on it because it's trendy. They buy Avirex and Santana jeans like they're going out of style.

Japanese simply don't want to part with their traditional phone functions because they are used to those functions and don't require all the little options that foreigners covet. They don't care about teathering, push mail and pretending you're drinking beer from a phone. All current phones from all carriers have GPS and 5MP-10MP cameras so there's no demand for those options since they already exist. They love music however, and that's why they buy previous iPod Nanos and some new iPodTouches. I know one Japanese person who owns an iPhone and guess what. She's a programmer for Kyocera and has an iPhone, Android and regular phone for testing.

If you are looking for Canadians, Americans or Brits in Japan all you need to do is go to the nearest Apple store. They're the ones buying. Notice how reports never tell you who are buying the iPhones in Japan. As far as I know, they can't segment demographically. If they could I doubt they would divulge just like they're doing with the 3Gs.
post #10 of 30
There has been a lot of talk about how hard it is to sell to the Japanese. These useless comments came about because dumb companies like General Motors could not give away their ugly cars trucks to Japanese drivers. I laughed when I read about it years ago. I wouldn't buy GM either, and I am neither Japanese nor do I live in Japan. GM makes the ugliest cars in the world, and the dependability factor is below zero. Why would anybody wants a GM car?

Anyway, the point is this; a good product will sell anywhere. Apple makes exceptional products, and iPhone is not only world-class, it will sell in another galaxy far away. Yes, I said it!
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

Also it's not that the Japanese hate the iPhone. It just not that desirable here. The Apple store and Softbank stores have people in there looking around and playing with the iPhone but there really aren't that many Japanese buying iPhones.

My best friend who is Japanese just bought a new Softbank phone because it has a 10MP camera. Don't get me started about MP. That's what he wanted so that's what he bought. I tried selling him on an iPhone but no go. He has a first gen iPod Touch.

Most Japanese who are interested in the iPhone don't end up buying it because the kanji input is too slow. For those that do buy it they are buying it because Japanese buy anything with a western brand on it because it's trendy. They buy Avirex and Santana jeans like they're going out of style.

Japanese simply don't want to part with their traditional phone functions because they are used to those functions and don't require all the little options that foreigners covet. They don't care about teathering, push mail and pretending you're drinking beer from a phone. All current phones from all carriers have GPS and 5MP-10MP cameras so there's no demand for those options since they already exist. They love music however, and that's why they buy previous iPod Nanos and some new iPodTouches. I know one Japanese person who owns an iPhone and guess what. She's a programmer for Kyocera and has an iPhone, Android and regular phone for testing.

If you are looking for Canadians, Americans or Brits in Japan all you need to do is go to the nearest Apple store. They're the ones buying. Notice how reports never tell you who are buying the iPhones in Japan. As far as I know, they can't segment demographically. If they could I doubt they would divulge just like they're doing with the 3Gs.

You really should read the links I supplied.
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by OC4Theo View Post

There has been a lot of talk about how hard it is to sell to the Japanese. These useless comments came about because dumb companies like General Motors could not give away their ugly cars trucks to Japanese drivers. I laughed when I read about it years ago. I wouldn't buy GM either, and I am neither Japanese nor do I live in Japan. GM makes the ugliest cars in the world, and the dependability factor is below zero. Why would anybody wants a GM car?

Anyway, the point is this; a good product will sell anywhere. Apple makes exceptional products, and iPhone is not only world-class, it will sell in another galaxy far away. Yes, I said it!

That's right. 25 years ago GM had an 72% Market Share in the biggest market in the universe, the USA and they screwed it by trying to sell crap products. "Yeah, let's all get in our $60,000 Hummers (10mpg), drive to the top of Pike's Peak just to play Frisbee!" That's a great commercial!
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by iPhone1982 View Post

The reason for the upbeat sales is because Apple & Softbank have resorted to giving away the 8gb 3G for free with 2 year contract.

Neither Apple or SoftBank will confirm numbers for the 3GS.

So they are giving a 2 year phone away for Free and have resorted to lowering their monthly Bill.

For the 3GS they are breaking up the cost of the phone into your "Contract" for 2 years.

So for all the people that gave RIM/Blackberry shit for giving phones away to cook the numbers take a number and Kiss Rims Ass. Apple is copying they're sales model to attract new contracts.

http://www.getafreeiphone.org/2009/0...year-contract/

RIM is indeed an amazing company even its results are one year ahead - http://www.rim.com/investors/pdf/Q3F09_MDA_FS_PR.pdf

I wish it all the best especially in the face of an onslaught of smartphones.
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

You really should read the links I supplied.

really? ok we'll I'll assume your links provide insight as to demographics and I was a little off-base. However, even if those stats exist who's to say they're legit stats. Is anything factual these days? What I do believe is what I see with my own eyes in Japan.
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

really? ok we'll I'll assume your links provide insight as to demographics and I was a little off-base. However, even if those stats exist who's to say they're legit stats. Is anything factual these days? What I do believe is what I see with my own eyes in Japan.

Since you refuse to look at the links, you have no idea what's in them. You think you know much? You don't.

Why should be believe anything you say? Who are you?
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

Also it's not that the Japanese hate the iPhone. It just not that desirable here. The Apple store and Softbank stores have people in there looking around and playing with the iPhone but there really aren't that many Japanese buying iPhones.

My best friend who is Japanese just bought a new Softbank phone because it has a 10MP camera. Don't get me started about MP. That's what he wanted so that's what he bought. I tried selling him on an iPhone but no go. He has a first gen iPod Touch.

Most Japanese who are interested in the iPhone don't end up buying it because the kanji input is too slow. For those that do buy it they are buying it because Japanese buy anything with a western brand on it because it's trendy. They buy Avirex and Santana jeans like they're going out of style.

Japanese simply don't want to part with their traditional phone functions because they are used to those functions and don't require all the little options that foreigners covet. They don't care about teathering, push mail and pretending you're drinking beer from a phone. All current phones from all carriers have GPS and 5MP-10MP cameras so there's no demand for those options since they already exist. They love music however, and that's why they buy previous iPod Nanos and some new iPodTouches. I know one Japanese person who owns an iPhone and guess what. She's a programmer for Kyocera and has an iPhone, Android and regular phone for testing.

If you are looking for Canadians, Americans or Brits in Japan all you need to do is go to the nearest Apple store. They're the ones buying. Notice how reports never tell you who are buying the iPhones in Japan. As far as I know, they can't segment demographically. If they could I doubt they would divulge just like they're doing with the 3Gs.

It just must be Japanese in America who love the iPhone.
post #17 of 30
I've been waiting for 8 days for o2 to connect my iPhone

- is this a record?!

post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Since you refuse to look at the links, you have no idea what's in them. You think you know much? You don't.

Why should be believe anything you say? Who are you?

You're the one saying I think I know too much not me. You don't have to believe anything I say. If Gollum is your messiah all the power to you. I'm just stating what I see every day in Japan when I pop into the Apple store, Bic Camera or Yodobashi camera on my way to work. I also meet a LOT of people from all walks of life in my career here and I can count all the iPod/iPod Nano holders on one hand. I usually ask my clients which carriers they prefer because I'm always thinking of switching to Softbank from AU. The conversation inevitably leads to Apple since the iPhone is on Softbank.
post #19 of 30
No they're not they are copying the phone model we've had in Australia for at least 15 years, we have a list of at least 100 people wanting the iPhone 3GS here despite having iPhone 3G 8GB in stock on a cheaper plan, the other four companies here also offer free iPhone's on plans, just like they do with any other phone.

The rest of the world isn't as backward as wherever you come from.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iPhone1982 View Post

The reason for the upbeat sales is because Apple & Softbank have resorted to giving away the 8gb 3G for free with 2 year contract.

Neither Apple or SoftBank will confirm numbers for the 3GS.

So they are giving a 2 year phone away for Free and have resorted to lowering their monthly Bill.

For the 3GS they are breaking up the cost of the phone into your "Contract" for 2 years.

So for all the people that gave RIM/Blackberry shit for giving phones away to cook the numbers take a number and Kiss Rims Ass. Apple is copying they're sales model to attract new contracts.

http://www.getafreeiphone.org/2009/0...year-contract/

btw it's 'their' not 'they're', you see "Apple is copying they are sales model to attract new contracts." doesn't make much sense which sums up the rest of your post as a matter of fact.
Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

You're the one saying I think I know too much not me. You don't have to believe anything I say. If Gollum is your messiah all the power to you. I'm just stating what I see every day in Japan when I pop into the Apple store, Bic Camera or Yodobashi camera on my way to work. I also meet a LOT of people from all walks of life in my career here and I can count all the iPod/iPod Nano holders on one hand. I usually ask my clients which carriers they prefer because I'm always thinking of switching to Softbank from AU. The conversation inevitably leads to Apple since the iPhone is on Softbank.

I can back up your comments to an extent. You're right that the iPhone has been popular with foreigners in Japan, helped by the fact Softbank offers services friendly for English speakers. However, it's likely 90%+ buyers are Japanese just by chance of statistics.

The iPhone is by no means ubiquitous here in Japan (Tokyo), but you do see it fairly often in all aspects of life. But it's not like in the U.S., where chances are it'll seem as if half the other people within view have an iPhone. It's not like that in Japan at all. There's also the fact that because the iPhone is so easily identifiable, when you see one, you're bound to notice, something harder to do with other keitai.

I'm a grad student here, and most students I go to school with have expressed interest in the iPhone as a concept, but it's missing features crucial to Japanese social life, like infra-red data exchange. I've never met anyone who hated it, though.
post #21 of 30
My wife is Japanese and she bought and loves her iPhone. She even updated to 3GS this year.

In town (and I am many miles form an Apple Store) I see a couple of iPhones every day in the hands of Japanese. Where's this "Japanese do not lika the iPhone" coming from?

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #22 of 30
Yep, the iPhone helped lead Softbank Mobile to a great quarter. More details here:
iPhone keeps Softbank smiling in Japan while NTT DOCOMO, KDDI stumble

(SB is in a similar position to Apple itself recently: the only player in its market turning in great results while everyone else is a wreck.)

In 2008, the iPhone was also #1 in Japan for customer satisfaction in mobile phones:
iPhone, Macs, iPod sweep 2008 customer satisfaction rankings in Japan

Folks, don't believe the exaggerated stories about the iPhone failing because it lacks some niche feature, or because "mostly foreigners" are buying it. I've seen no evidence that the iPhone is the most successful phone here in Japan, but it certainly is a hit, and I see no shortage of Japanese who buy, use, and love the thing.
post #23 of 30
I am an American electrical engineer working for Japanese companies, who has lived in central Japan for the past 15 years and is married to a Japanese woman. I can tell you that despite Japan being a very homogeneous society, no one can make a blanked statement claiming that "the Japanese love" or "the Japanese aren't buying" the iPhone. It depends on WHO you are talking about and WHERE you are talking about.

Here in Aichi prefecture, where "the money and jobs are," I see plenty of evidence that Japanese people are indeed buying the iPhone despite the economy and liking it. This includes Japanese people I work with, friends I associate with, and people I see driving down the road (many of whom have special mounts for their iPhones, even on 3-wheel scooters). It takes me 1 hour and twenty minutes to drive from Nissin City to Chita Hanto, so believe me, I see a lot of people on my trek to and from the office.

Our company president (a hard core AU lover) got his first iPhone a couple months ago and loves it. He is 40 years old, a Mac enthusiast, and has a technical background like myself. He has not found iPhone Kanji input a problem, nor has he any interest in other so-called "missing" or "crucial to Japanese life" features that Japanese in their teens or early twenties may prefer to have. He acquired the iPhone as a notebook replacement as he travels to our factories in China and Taiwan once every 3 months and needs to do a lot of email correspondence and Skype communications. To cut costs, he shutdown most of the capabilities whereby the iPhone would link to the internet (and thereby, rack up connection charges). He mostly uses it via WiFi on our office network, in airports or in the factories he visits (mostly for free). This results in the monthly bills being far lower than what you pay in the US. But by default, SoftBank has the phone setup so it links to the net, so you really need to be careful if you don't want a big bill each month. Of course, by default the phone was locked to SoftBank, but an associate at one of our factories unlocked and jailbroke the phone for him, free of charge. So he can now use the iPhone in Japan or Taiwan or China simply by swapping the SIM card -- the way the iPhone should be in all markets, out of the box.

Things may be different in other parts of Japan, but that is how the situation is here in Aichi from what I myself have experienced.

As for Brian C., the man is a joke. And even the very mention of his name gives the man more credibility than he deserves.
post #24 of 30
Amen, JDW! Sounds similar to Tokyo.
post #25 of 30
Is the giant "mobile strap" white dog: http://acielmd.exblog.jp/i29/
post #26 of 30
You guys have to be very careful with Softbank numbers:

(1) Softbank is a big business empire (they owned a big stake in Yahoo Japan), so the group doing very well doesn't necessarily mean that their mobile section is doing very well.
(2) Softbank buys and sells business regularly and gains/loses one time profit --- so its earnings swing a lot.
(3) Softbank uses the accounting laws very aggressively --- its mobile subsidiary is "winning" the net adds subscriber war each and single month because they changed their accounting standard.

http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/...ims/2006-12-06

(4) Softbank Mobile is still the home of the low ARPU users --- despite their iphone exclusivity. Softbank Mobile's ARPU is 1800 yen below second place KDDI.

http://www.japancorp.net/Article.Asp?Art_ID=21812
http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-...30-709573.html

(5) Softbank Mobile has a very low profit margin --- Softbank Mobile has about 21 million subscribers and its operating income is 60.2 billion yen vs. KDDI has about 31 million subscribers and its operating income is 141.8 billion yen.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...d=aAyzVQHGztvY
http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-...30-709573.html
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by OC4Theo View Post

There has been a lot of talk about how hard it is to sell to the Japanese. These useless comments came about because dumb companies like General Motors could not give away their ugly cars trucks to Japanese drivers. I laughed when I read about it years ago. I wouldn't buy GM either, and I am neither Japanese nor do I live in Japan. GM makes the ugliest cars in the world, and the dependability factor is below zero. Why would anybody wants a GM car?

Anyway, the point is this; a good product will sell anywhere. Apple makes exceptional products, and iPhone is not only world-class, it will sell in another galaxy far away. Yes, I said it!

I heard Mars is ordering another 1 million more iPhone 3GS because stock is running out at the Apple Store there.
post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

You're the one saying I think I know too much not me. You don't have to believe anything I say. If Gollum is your messiah all the power to you. I'm just stating what I see every day in Japan when I pop into the Apple store, Bic Camera or Yodobashi camera on my way to work. I also meet a LOT of people from all walks of life in my career here and I can count all the iPod/iPod Nano holders on one hand. I usually ask my clients which carriers they prefer because I'm always thinking of switching to Softbank from AU. The conversation inevitably leads to Apple since the iPhone is on Softbank.

I see you still haven't red the links. That;s all that matters right now. You can state whatever you like, but it means little. It's just hearsay from you.

I know someone who was there for over two months, and he says differently. But that doesn't prove anything either.
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

It just must be Japanese in America who love the iPhone.

LOL! +1!
post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Yet another win for iPhone? I'd like to think so.

Isn't that obvious?
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