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Study suggests most of Japan not bonkers over iPhone

post #1 of 164
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The Japanese aren't lusting over iPhone to the same degree as Americans and fellow Europeans across the pond, according to a local study commissioned shortly after regional wireless carrier SoftBank Mobile said it would offer the Apple handset later this year.

The survey, conducted by iShare over a relatively small sample size of 402 Japanese wireless subscribers, found that as of earlier this month slightly more than 91 percent held no plans to purchase one of the updated touch-screen handsets following its announcement.

For SoftBank, the good news is that more than half of the respondents who said they planned to purchase the new iPhone are currently subscribers of a rival carrier's service and would need to make the jump to legitimately obtain the device. Overall, 39.8 percent of participants in the study said they were enrolled with NTT DoCoMo, 26.9 percent with KDDI's "au," 22.9 percent with SoftBank, and another 6.5 percent with other providers such as Willcom and Emobile.

Of particular concern to Japanese mobile users was the ability to replace the battery in their cell phones. Approximately 77 percent said they'd "prefer replaceable batteries," while the remainder said they didn't care if the battery is replaceable or not. However, 88 percent of those people who had replaced a battery in one of their previous phones said they'd prefer to have the same option going forward.

iShare noted in its report that the lack of a replaceable battery in the iPhone could be a deal breaker in Japan. It also noted that intent on the part of Japanese consumers to buy one of the Apple handsets appears to have dropped considerably between July 2007 and today.

Those sentiments on the part of Japanese consumers may have changed in recent weeks, however, given that iShare conducted its survey from June 5th through the 6th -- shortly after SoftBank announced plans to carry the handset locally, but before the phone's $199 maximum entry-level cost was announced. That's likely half the price most consumers had grown to expect.

For Apple, the stakes surrounding its iPhone 3G launch in Japan and other international regions are extremely high. The Cupertino-based company has made a considerable wager in effectively 'subsidizing' the cost of each unit, or sacrificing revenues estimated at around $200. The company hopes to make up for a lack of shared revenues over an extended period of time through sales of high margin services and software to an incrementally larger user base.

In a report issued Wednesday, investment bank Morgan Stanley said they like the company's odds and expected iPhone sales to more than double from 12.9 million units in 2008 to approximately 27 million units next year. Should one out of every 2 iPhone owners buy one application from the company's App Store at $9.99 each year, and 8.5 percent also sign up for its MobileMe service, it would help drive Apple's revenues in excess of $42 billion, the firm said.

However, should Apple continue to see sales of Macs rise while selling 30 million iPhones, two apps to each user, and MobileMe to 30 percent of iPhone customers, 2009 revenues could surge to nearly $48 billion.
post #2 of 164
This is not much of a surprise. Japan is usually inundated 24/7 with the newest and cutting edge in technology. Sure, the iPhone is nice but nothing worth going crazy over.
post #3 of 164
Quote:
For Apple, the stakes surrounding its iPhone 3G launch in Japan and other international regions are extremely high. The Cupertino-based company has made a considerable wager in effectively subsidizing the cost of each unit it sells by an estimated $200. The idea is to make that much back and then some over an extended period of time through sales of high margin services and software to an incrementally larger user base.


This is a false assumption. Apple doesn't subsidize the retail sale price of an iPhone.

A 4 GB Sandisk USB flash drive is sold for a retail price of $29, complete with the U3 software. How much do you believe than an iPhone costs to manufacture?


post #4 of 164
I own an iPhone and I'm not bonkers about the iPhone 3G either. It's not HSDPA, it's 3G. The camera is still 2MP, 3.2 would have been nice. And if the camera had a little flash it would being absolutely superb. Though the rumored front-facing camera for video calls was not necessary. No copy & paste still? WTF? Still no A2DP? WTF again? Can't say I blame Japan, though most of them have yet to see the UI in action, so that will sell some when they do.

Side note though; if only 5% of Japan were interested and bought the iPhone Apple would sell 6.3M iPhones to them
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post #5 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I own an iPhone and I'm not bonkers about the iPhone 3G either. It's not HSDPA, it's 3G. The camera is still 2MP, 3.2 would have been nice. And if the camera had a little flash it would being absolutely superb. Though the rumored front-facing camera for video calls was not necessary. No copy & paste still? WTF? Still no A2DP? WTF again?

HSDPA is, essentially, 3G (more 3.5G) and yes, the iPhone is HSDPA capable.
post #6 of 164
Being conservative the iPhone costs about $130 to produce. Despite the outrageous claims by those analysts that is costs about $100. Then you have to add on shipping, marketing and selling costs. Apple's making money on the iPhone, but they are building a user base more importantly. And they are getting an amount from each carrier too, you could bet your life on that.
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post #7 of 164
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Originally Posted by Cam'ron View Post

HSDPA is, essentially, 3G (more 3.5G) and yes, the iPhone is HSDPA capable.

Well true HSPDA is 7.2MP right? The iPhone only does 3.2
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post #8 of 164
Okay, well, since the Japanese are portrayed as a cell-phone culture, what exactly is the most popular cutting edge smartphone in Japan?

Maybe I'll dump my iPhone and get one of those instead.
post #9 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by DistortedLoop View Post

Okay, well, since the Japanese are portrayed as a cell-phone culture, what exactly is the most popular cutting edge smartphone in Japan?

Maybe I'll dump my iPhone and get one of those instead.

Good argument but it's just not that simple. I'd bet the whole 2MP camera thing alone would put off most Japanese, not to mention that most like live mobile TV and other things which the iPhone doesn't have. I'd rather the iPhone too, but you and me aren't Japanese.
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post #10 of 164
It seems to me that the Japanese use their cell phones a whole heck of a lot, replace them frequently, and buy all kinds of ring tones, wallpapers, screensavers, short videos, etc. I don't think out of the gate the iPhone is meant to play into the Japanese Cell Phone Experience, so they won't be doing the usual things they may be used to. My point being it's a pretty unique market.
post #11 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Still no A2DP? WTF again?

Having never had A2DP, I am totally clueless about how well the technology works. Obviously it's better than a bluetooth headset (since it's stereo), but is the sound quality really worth bothering with? There's so much angst over it missing. Patrick Norton, who represents himself as an audiophile, dissed A2DP as bad sounding on any phone in a recent podcast of his.

Does bluetooth have the bandwidth for good audio quality? Is the digital delay that bluetooth headsets introduce into cell calls an issue with bluetooth stereo headsets?

Genuinely interested, as I don't like iPhone/iPod cords dangling around my neck and torso to catch on things, but not if the audio quality isn't up to snuff.
post #12 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by DistortedLoop View Post

Having never had A2DP, I am totally clueless about how well the technology works. Obviously it's better than a bluetooth headset (since it's stereo), but is the sound quality really worth bothering with? There's so much angst over it missing. Patrick Norton, who represents himself as an audiophile, dissed A2DP as bad sounding on any phone in a recent podcast of his.

Does bluetooth have the bandwidth for good audio quality? Is the digital delay that bluetooth headsets introduce into cell calls an issue with bluetooth stereo headsets?

Genuinely interested, as I don't like iPhone/iPod cords dangling around my neck and torso to catch on things, but not if the audio quality isn't up to snuff.

I don't use it, but there a lot of people craving for it for ages, they should have added it.
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post #13 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Good argument but it's just not that simple. I'd bet the whole 2MP camera thing alone would put off most Japanese, not to mention that most like live mobile TV and other things which the iPhone doesn't have. I'd rather the iPhone too, but you and me aren't Japanese.

Actually, I wasn't making an argument for the iPhone. It was a serious question, and would have been a nice bit of info to add to the article. Something along the lines of "the Japanese are so enamored of their --insert cellphone mode here-- devices that the iPhone just doesn't interest them."

I like my iPhone, but I'd gladly chuck it for something that does what it does better and offered up more features (like mobile tv as an example).
post #14 of 164
How do we know that there will be no mobile TV? Is it a hardware thing, or could it be updated through the appstore or a firmware update?
post #15 of 164
Until VERY recently, if you look at Japanese cars (and they may still be this way for the home market,) just as a national characteristic, it seemed that the dashboard was extremely cluttered and busy, with as many buttons and switches as they could possibly get in there. The iPhone's simple and elegant interface, which Americans and Europeans lust after enough to overlook some other shortcomings, may be a negative in Japan. (Not dissing Japanese culture--every country has different tastes.) The Blackberry, with its thousands of unworkably small keys, is very popular there, right?
post #16 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by ouragan View Post

This is a false assumption. Apple doesn't subsidize the retail sale price of an iPhone.

A 4 GB Sandisk USB flash drive is sold for a retail price of $29, complete with the U3 software. How much do you believe than an iPhone costs to manufacture?

It's $199 with a 24-month subscription. The device's IMEI is being tied to a user and their CC. You better believe it's subsidized. If you don't believe me look at the international plans and the price variances for contract and without among the retailers.

The components or the manufacturing are only one aspect to a device's wholesale or retail price.
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post #17 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Well true HSPDA is 7.2MP right? The iPhone only does 3.2

HSDPA comes in different download speeds with the upload being 384Kbps. According to the rumourswhich I believe to be true, but won't know until we crack it openthe radio chips in the 3G iPhone is capable of 7.2Mbps.
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post #18 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by DistortedLoop View Post

Having never had A2DP, I am totally clueless about how well the technology works. Obviously it's better than a bluetooth headset (since it's stereo), but is the sound quality really worth bothering with? There's so much angst over it missing. Patrick Norton, who represents himself as an audiophile, dissed A2DP as bad sounding on any phone in a recent podcast of his.

Did you ask this question on MacOSXHints.com earlier this week? I tried looking into it. It appears that better than 320Kbps audio can be sent, but the info wasn't enough to warrant an answer to the person asking the question. (I don't mind posting rumours and speculation here, but on their forums I try to be factual and to the point)
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post #19 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Good argument but it's just not that simple. I'd bet the whole 2MP camera thing alone would put off most Japanese, not to mention that most like live mobile TV and other things which the iPhone doesn't have. I'd rather the iPhone too, but you and me aren't Japanese.

The HW issues*, like the camera Mpx, and the OS X iPhone system issues, like the inability to cut an paste, maybe a turn off, but mobile TV can be had by a 3rd-party app on the device.


* The Japanese seem to really buy on specs, not on usability, so the lack of HSUPA may be a turn off despite Japan just starting to roll it out this month.
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post #20 of 164
The sooner people understand that the iPhone is not so much a cell phone or smart phone as it is a mobile computing platform with smart phone capabilities, then the sooner will they realize how much Apple has changed the game and that no one out there has all the skill components (software, hardware, brick&mortar retail savvy, online retail savvy, networking, and the all-important cool factor) that are needed to come up with a product that can compete with the iPhone. No one, nada, nicht. Not Nokia, not RIM, not Microsoft, not even Google. Not Sony, not Samsung, not LG, not Moto, not Donner, nor Blitzen.

David Pogue wasn't exaggerating when he said the iPhone 3G and iPhone 2.0 are big. Like really big. I mean bigger than the fat-lady-who-sings-at-the- end-of-the-show big.
post #21 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

The sooner people understand that the iPhone is not so much a cell phone or smart phone as it is a mobile computing platform with smart phone capabilities, then the sooner will they realize how much Apple has changed the game and that no one out there has all the skill components (software, hardware, brick&mortar retail savvy, online retail savvy, networking, and the all-important cool factor) that are needed to come up with a product that can compete with the iPhone. No one, nada, nicht. Not Nokia, not RIM, not Microsoft, not even Google. Not Sony, not Samsung, not LG, not Moto, not Donner, nor Blitzen.

Your post reminded me of something I have been thinking about for a few days...

Oddly, it looks like the GPS manufactures are the closest to having anything that could rival Apple's OS and UI. They already have Windows and Mac apps for updating their software and adding map packages from a portal within the app itself (akin to iTunes). And they have a robust touchscreen UI that, I think, has been in place longer than any cellphone's touch UI. Plus, they only focus on their touch UI and not other types of GPS devices.

it doesn't look like TomTom is getting into the cellphone manufacturing game, but Garmin is, and they closer than anyone else at this point. Garmin's prototype is pretty nice for a first attempt; I hope they succeed.
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post #22 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Did you ask this question on MacOSXHints.com earlier this week? I tried looking into it. It appears that better than 320Kbps audio can be sent, but the info wasn't enough to warrant an answer to the person asking the question. (I don't mind posting rumours and speculation here, but on their forums I try to be factual and to the point)

No I didn't ask it over there. Guess I'm not the only one curious. I thought Bluetooth maxed out at 115kbps, but just Googled it, and it wikipedia says 1Mbit/sec and 3Mbit/sec, so more bandwidth there than I was thinking.

Makes me wonder why bluetooth headsets for voice calls sound so crappy.
post #23 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

The sooner people understand that the iPhone is not so much a cell phone or smart phone as it is a mobile computing platform &c..

Whereas Japanese phones are total toilet. Read this from WIRED :

TOKYO -- Steve Jobs' new iPhone, expected to be unveiled Monday, is headed to Japan by the end of the year. But the device's famed ease of use may actually be a turnoff in Japan, where consumers want features, not simplicity.


Indeed, Japanese handsets have become prime examples of feature creep gone mad. In many cases, phones in Japan are far too complex for users to master.
"There are tons of buttons, and different combinations or lengths of time yield different results,'" says Koh Aoki, an engineer who lives in Tokyo.
Experimenting with different key combinations in search of new features is "good for killing time during a long commute," Aoki says, "but it's definitely not elegant."
Japan has long been famous for its advanced cellphones with sci-fi features like location tracking, mobile credit card payment and live TV. These handsets have been the envy of consumers in the United States, where cell technology has trailed an estimated five years or more. But while many phones would do Captain Kirk proud, most of the features are hard to use or not used at all.
"Some people care about quality, but first and foremost it's about the features," says Nobi Hayashi, a journalist and author of Steve Jobs: The Greatest Creative Director. He estimates that the average person only uses 5 to 10 percent of the functions available on their handsets.

post #24 of 164
I could be missing something here, but I interpret this study an entirely different way... isn't 9% planning on purchasing *really damn good*? I mean, if Apple took 9% of the market ANYWHERE that'd be amazing. So I'm pretty confused.
post #25 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by DistortedLoop View Post

Makes me wonder why bluetooth headsets for voice calls sound so crappy.

I'd speculate that they use a much lower bitrate to reduce delay between the two parties.

For one thing, A2DP only needs to send data to the BT headset, not receive it too. And there is no need to balance the incoming and outgoing to reduce potential feedback. Plus, you can wait a second or two for your music to cache, but you need your call to be as instant as possible.
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post #26 of 164
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Originally Posted by drhamad View Post

I could be missing something here, but I interpret this study an entirely different way... isn't 9% planning on purchasing *really damn good*? I mean, if Apple took 9% of the market ANYWHERE that'd be amazing. So I'm pretty confused.

Excellent point!
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post #27 of 164
Beyond features, there are two things that I can think of off the top of my head that radically need to be changed if the iPhone is going to take off in Japan...

• Search - Everything is based on ABCD... search with albums, contacts, etc. This drops all your kana and kanji into one group at the bottom. Pointless.

• Input - it's really horrible to type in Japanese on the iPod touch / iPhone. For example, if you want a character か you need to type in 'ka' and wait for it to convert.
Regular cell phones have a different input that is very fast for this..

Unless they really change the UI for the Japanese phone, there is no way large amounts of people in Japan are going to get into the iPhone anytime fast.

Personally, I was watching the ball game on my phone last night while waiting for the train. I'm not ready to give that up...
post #28 of 164
#1 - I live in Japan, but in the mountains. My coworkers think iPhone is really cool, but I don't think anyone will buy it. Oh well, I will.

#2 - 1Seg, the mobile TV in Japan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1seg
Doesn't always work so fabulously. I think it requires another chip.

#3 - Camera - I don't think my camera in my Docomo D902iS is ultra top notch, no more than 3.2 MP, but it does record video and it does have a whole slew of options to alter the gamma, size of photo, brightness, etc. Really Apple, come on. What's the hold up?

#4 - There are other chips in Japanese cellphones for paying, trains, and automatically using toll roads. I've not used these features but they seem really useful.

#5 - All phones here can use REAL email, not just SMS. Sure you can SMS to a phone number, but you can have an email address, xxx@docomo.ne.jp, different for every carrier, and that email comes to your phone. I'm not sure if the phone is polling for updates or if the email is pushed. messages back and forth with friends through the phone email seems to go fast. So actually, I'm not sure if these carriers in japan can use their existing mail systems with iPhone's mail app.

#6 - Japan is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. The coolest phones, despite lack of touch screen, can weigh in at around $500 at Docomo. Softbanks scheme is that phones cost about $800, but the monthly plan is low. They divide the cost of the phone over 24 months and add it into the bill. Then you're paying the same as the other carriers. But as of now, Softbank's Unlimited Data plan for it's X-Series (smartphones) is $100 a month. Don't gripe about AT&T's $30/mo. I don't know if Apple persuaded them to offer a better deal on data, but pushing that they sell the actual phone so low is going to make a lot of people switching to softbank possibly interested in the low cost of the iPhone.

Regardless, I'll be getting one (unless data fees are absolutely ridiculous) and converting my friends!
post #29 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

* The Japanese seem to really buy on specs, not on usability, so the lack of HSUPA may be a turn off despite Japan just starting to roll it out this month.

On paper the iPhone would loose to many other smartphones, but that is only taking into account the hardware. For me at least, it is the software that really matters. You could have the most advanced phone in the world but if were running unusable software, there is no point to having any of that fancy hardware, except maybe for bragging rights.

For example, ATI has made some graphics cards that a physically more "advanced" then their nvidia counterparts, but when these cards are tested in the real world the nvidia cards almost always win.
post #30 of 164
The battery argument makes no sense if it is also true that these characters replace their phones every few months. If the iPhone does not fit the Japanese culture, so be it! It fits a lot of others' and it would be a great disservice to the rest of the world to make a phone for a subculture if it ignores the needs of people who want to use the iPhone for less frivolous things than ring tones and wallpapers-- oh how happy!

It IS after all not marketed as an entertainment device that, oh, btw, can be used as a communications device. Where's the beef?-- ah, right-- that is the other not-so-happy-with-America country.

This is really not about iPhone "features"--- sadly. If SONY and SamSung are not THE number one in the US, I guess there is a price to pay. But, again, who cares?
post #31 of 164
Since this survey was conducted before WWDC and the official announcement (and pricing, and plans), isn't this survey out of date before it even got published?
post #32 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

It's $199 with a 24-month subscription. The device's IMEI is being tied to a user and their CC. You better believe it's subsidized. If you don't believe me look at the international plans and the price variances for contract and without among the retailers.

The components or the manufacturing are only one aspect to a device's wholesale or retail price.

Ouragan said, "Apple doesn't subsidize the retail sale price of an iPhone."

He is right! Apple doesn't subsidize the cost of the iPhone. The carriers do!
post #33 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulhkim View Post

This is not much of a surprise. Japan is usually inundated 24/7 with the newest and cutting edge in technology. Sure, the iPhone is nice but nothing worth going crazy over.

Exactly what I was going to say. What get an iPhone when you can get a phone with email and TV on it? Not to mention REAL cameras. 2MP iPhone camera? wtf? Can we get a better resolution please? At least 3.5, if not 5, like on most asian/some european phones.
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post #34 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

The HW issues*, like the camera Mpx, and the OS X iPhone system issues, like the inability to cut an paste, maybe a turn off, but mobile TV can be had by a 3rd-party app on the device.


* The Japanese seem to really buy on specs, not on usability, so the lack of HSUPA may be a turn off despite Japan just starting to roll it out this month.

Totally.
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post #35 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by enzos View Post

Whereas Japanese phones are total toilet. Read this from WIRED :

TOKYO -- Steve Jobs' new iPhone, expected to be unveiled Monday, is headed to Japan by the end of the year. But the device's famed ease of use may actually be a turnoff in Japan, where consumers want features, not simplicity.


Indeed, Japanese handsets have become prime examples of feature creep gone mad. In many cases, phones in Japan are far too complex for users to master.
"There are tons of buttons, and different combinations or lengths of time yield different results,'" says Koh Aoki, an engineer who lives in Tokyo.
Experimenting with different key combinations in search of new features is "good for killing time during a long commute," Aoki says, "but it's definitely not elegant."
Japan has long been famous for its advanced cellphones with sci-fi features like location tracking, mobile credit card payment and live TV. These handsets have been the envy of consumers in the United States, where cell technology has trailed an estimated five years or more. But while many phones would do Captain Kirk proud, most of the features are hard to use or not used at all.
"Some people care about quality, but first and foremost it's about the features," says Nobi Hayashi, a journalist and author of Steve Jobs: The Greatest Creative Director. He estimates that the average person only uses 5 to 10 percent of the functions available on their handsets.


This is absolutely true. Japanese phones have the most useless consumer electronic junk I've ever seen... but as long as it's "cute" it sells.

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post #36 of 164
I just sold my iPhone for $485. I forwarded the number to my Skype In number and will be cellphone-free for the next 3.35 weeks.
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post #37 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post

Ouragan said, "Apple doesn't subsidize the retail sale price of an iPhone."

He is right! Apple doesn't subsidize the cost of the iPhone. The carriers do!

His post didn't seem to be about pedantically correcting AI on who actually in subsidizing the actual cost of the handset, but that we can't assume that the device is being subsidized at all. Which he seems to back up with an example of the retail price of a 4GB SanDisk USB flash drive.
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post #38 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjwill246 View Post

The battery argument makes no sense if it is also true that these characters replace their phones every few months. If the iPhone does not fit the Japanese culture, so be it! It fits a lot of others' and it would be a great disservice to the rest of the world to make a phone for a subculture if it ignores the needs of people who want to use the iPhone for less frivolous things than ring tones and wallpapers-- oh how happy!

It is all about the battery. It doesn't matter how one uses the device, it's lunacy that Apple has gone the route of non-user replaceable batteries on this 2nd gen iPhone.

And sure, Apple makes a tidy sum every time a new battery needs replacement. But to the user, it's a pain in the a**! I mean $80 plus shipping and 3 day turnaround? People rely on their phones for business every day. What do you do for 3 days without contact if you're on the road most of your working day?
post #39 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by satchmo View Post

IAnd sure, Apple makes a tidy sum every time a new battery needs replacement. But to the user, it's a pain in the a**! I mean $80 plus shipping and 3 day turnaround? People rely on their phones for business every day. What do you do for 3 days without contact if you're on the road most of your working day?

How often does a battery need changing? I know of no one that has gone out to get spare cell phone batteries*. It's a feature that people want but will not use. In the past, a user-replaceable battery was how you reset your phone when it locked up on you.

* I will be getting a Mophie Juice Pack when they come out with an iPhone 3G version. You might think this makes me an ideal candidate for wanting a user-replaceable abttery, but I don't want to carry a spare battery around or worry about a panel that pops off. I just want the extra juice as a built in protective case.
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post #40 of 164
After lurking for years I have decided to come out with my 2 cents...why now? Who knows?
My only point is that originally everyone just wanted a cellphone that was also an ipod. Now we have one that is 500 times more than that and all people seem to be able to do is complain that it doesn't do enough. I for one would love a cellphone/ipod, and i think half the world that actually is oblivious to all this techie stuff would love this also. Sometimes more is less...
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