Originally Posted by Joel Breckinridge
Some Japanese analysts are saying it could be as small as 160,000 units. WSJ gets most of it right but there are some missing pieces. In addition to the emoji (which are glyphs that use the Unicode free use area), iPhone does not have the one-seg digital TV reception most handsets have now or the digital wallet function. These are not the biggest drawback however, it is the poor reputation and lousy execution of Softbank.
The Softbank store experience compared to Docomo and AU is poor, the iPhone 3G phone plan is complex and Softbank has lowered the initial tier price for packet data but if you use 3G data much at all, the price has not changed. Softbank should have come out the door with lower prices but all they are doing is reacting to Docomo price cuts which does not look good in the eyes of most people here.
Despite all this there is still interest in the device and hope but only if Docomo signs on. I talked with one journalist who said that Docomo has already agreed to sell iPhone but was waiting for the green light from Apple. There is also reports from analysts that if Softbank does not hit their iPhone sales targets, Docomo will be brought online. There are a lot of Docomo users who have said they are interested in iPhone and Apple would easily hit the 1 million mark in Japan if Docomo comes into play. Will be interesting to see how it develops
JB in Tokyo
It is fun to compare the estimates and predict ups/downs while talking about causes and backgrounds, but I don't agree with most of what you wrote. It is not the case, but sounds like an expression typical to those who hate SoftBank.
Its not unusual thing that SoftBank is attacked by groundless rumors, and defamatory articles written by mass media. Because Japanese mass media is like a henchman bowing Docomo and its parent company, NTT. This forms a big gap of perception or attitude to SoftBank between consumers and mass media.
Consumers straightforwardly praise and thank for what SoftBank has done, because people enjoy the benefits of drastic price/cost down in fix and mobile telecommunication since SoftBank entered into the market. Before it, people could not but accept the highest price all over the world because of the rule under monopolistic close system and traditional institutions of Japan. Of course the rulers are NTT, Docomo(a child of NTT), and KDDI (a cousin of NTT; KDDI holds 0.12% of Docomo's common stock), a family that has maintained its status without competitors in Japan by using cozy relations among them and with administration.
By contrast, Japanese mass media has different attitude toward SoftBank from consumers. They never praise SoftBank whatever it might do. Nor have I seen they criticize and blame Docomo whatever it might do. I think the reason why the mass media in Japan has such attitude against SoftBank is their fear and wariness if it would destroy and change the order and stability in which they continued to keep happy relations and customs. So they do like henchmen bowing to their ruler.
I'd like to talk little bit different story which might be related to what you wrote.
Just before the official anouncement of SoftBank, most writers and analysts predicted Docomo would handle iPhone3G in Japan. Almonst none of experts in IT technology or gadgets or stock market, can predict it would be SoftBank who could win the race.
The situation was come from the background that many of them had heard "information" from persons of NTT Docomo as if a talk with Apple was coming to term. On a website of gadget magazine around a week before the official announcement on 3-Jun, a well-known writer was asked a qustion which company would win in the getting iPhone race, Docomo or SoftBank, he stated triumphantly, "Docomo will win at almonst 100%. Because I know it. I've already got very positive information from Docomo persons I often contact with....etc." But immediately afer it he had to know Docomo persons were lying.
It's not strange that some jurnalists and analysts, as you write, would inform you a story that Docomo will get iPhone soon, or a theory that the failure of iPhone in Japan should be attributed to the inability of SoftBank.
That is a troika of malice; the first thing is to criticize iPhone in every aspect, the second is to blame the failure (very hasty to conclude the failure!) of iPhone sales on the inability of SoftBank, and the third is to spread fake expectation of the iPhone from Docomo by the rumor.
If the troika could succeed to made iPhone powerless either in other's hand or in its own hand and no longer able to threat the company's monopolist status in this country, anyway Docomo will be happy.
Essentially Docomo is scared that iPhone could shake its monopolist status in the mobile market in Japan, because it could attract more and more cellphone users to lead to big outflow of subscribers to rival company, SoftBank.
Anyway it is absurd to jump to the conclusion only by looking at the result of first two or three months after the launch. Because both Apple and SoftBank are thought to place iPhone in a long-term strategy of business in Japan.