or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › SoftBank now giving away iPhones in Japan
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

SoftBank now giving away iPhones in Japan

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
In a bid to possibly clear inventory, combat slumping sales, or both, SoftBank Mobile's new "iPhone for Everybody Campaign" is offering customers in Japan a free iPhone 3G with a two-year contract through May.

Announced on the Japanese carrier's website, the promotion offers significant savings for customers interested in upgrading to the iPhone in Japan. The 8GB version of Apple's popular smartphone is now free (original release, translated) with a two-year contract that can be tied to one of three promotional plans including basic, premium, or student. The 16GB iPhone, meanwhile, isn't paid for in full up front. Rather, it costs 480 yen per month ($4.96 in U.S. dollars) for a total price over the two-year contract of ¥ 11,520 ($119.11).

SoftBank is adding even further incentive for customers to buy. The company's typical data plan is being discounted from the normal ¥ 5985 per month to a maximum of ¥ 4410. In U.S. dollars, that's a cut from $61.88 to $45.59 per month. When the carrier first partnered with Apple to start selling iPhones back in July, the 8GB model was available for the equivalent of $238.21 while its 16GB cousin was $357.32.

Seen together with Best Buy's discounts this week, the move could be geared toward clearing inventory ahead of an expected June announcement of a new iPhone handset. The SoftBank promotion expires the final day of May. Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference has recently been held in June and has twice served as a launch pad for new versions of the touch-screen handset.



Another possible explanation for the discounts is that Apple's iPhone partners may be feeling pressure to meet sales quotas for the iPhone 3G tied to their contracts with Cupertino-based company before a revised model his the market. Those quotas, which at one time may have seemed obtainable, may now be more of a burden given the slumping global economy and a worldwide pullback in consumer spending.

In general, analysts on Wall Street are expecting Apple this quarter to sell the fewest number of iPhone 3Gs since the handset was introduced last summer. Estimates have ranged anywhere from 2 million units to 3.5 million units.
post #2 of 38
Seems Japan is a hard market for Apple just like Nokia.
post #3 of 38
Without the built-in TV tuners, radio and other things the typical Japanese are used to, of course the iPhone would have less appeal to customers.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #4 of 38
My guess would be that the Japanese are just not interested in the iPhone due to certain missing features. Chances are that even giving the iPhone away won't help. Apple would have to add the same features that most other handsets in Japan have and build a Japanese market specific iPhone. I'd be curious to find out if there were a lot of returns from people that tried the iPhone and were dissatisfied with it or if most potential users asked if it could do such and such and when told no, they just decided against it. I had hoped that the iPhone would sell based on coolness, but maybe the Japanese are more interested in practical when it comes to carrying a handset. I hope someone does a study on why the iPhone failed to catch on in Japan.
post #5 of 38
I heard part of the problem in Japan is there's nowhere to hang your trinkets on the iphone, which is apparently a big deal. The cashier at my local Hello Kitty kiosk told me about it.

What's the deal with the quotas? I hadn't read anything about that before.
post #6 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

I had hoped that the iPhone would sell based on coolness, but maybe the Japanese are more interested in practical when it comes to carrying a handset.

coolness and hype only sell in america for some reasons; europe and japan will care more about functions, or with the iphone, rather the lack of them...
post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

My guess would be that the Japanese are just not interested in the iPhone due to certain missing features. Chances are that even giving the iPhone away won't help. Apple would have to add the same features that most other handsets in Japan have and build a Japanese market specific iPhone. I'd be curious to find out if there were a lot of returns from people that tried the iPhone and were dissatisfied with it or if most potential users asked if it could do such and such and when told no, they just decided against it. I had hoped that the iPhone would sell based on coolness, but maybe the Japanese are more interested in practical when it comes to carrying a handset. I hope someone does a study on why the iPhone failed to catch on in Japan.

Are they also not interested in the powerful Nokia phones people talk about here with all their so called features, why did Nokia pull out of that market?
post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by emulator View Post

coolness and hype only sell in america for some reasons; europe and japan will care more about functions, or with the iphone, rather the lack of them...

I cant stand morons who think the only thing the iphone has going for it is "coolness and hype". Perhaps getting a clue should be high on your list of priorities.
post #9 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by emulator View Post

coolness and hype only sell in america for some reasons; europe and japan will care more about functions, or with the iphone, rather the lack of them...

What about Nokia which sells in Europe but had to pull out Japan because they can't compete, are they also selling on coolness and hype in Europe.
post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

I cant stand morons who think the only thing the iphone has going for it is "coolness and hype". Perhaps getting a clue should be high on your list of priorities.

You don't know Apple only sells their products on "coolness and hype." I mean they've sold like close to 200 million ipods, 13 million iphones all on "coolness and hype."
post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adjei View Post

You don't know Apple only sells their products on "coolness and hype." I mean they've sold like close to 200 million ipods, 13 million iphones all on "coolness and hype."

"Cool and Hype", it doesn't take much to hijack a thread, does it? People will buy, or not buy, the iPhone for a million reasons. End of story.

As for Japan discounting iPhones, I think February is a bit early to start clearing inventory for a June refresh. I would think mid April would be the start, with the launch two months later (mid June).

I think what we are seeing is a reaction to the market's dislike of the carrier fee schedule. Even after the discounts its still higher than it is here.
post #12 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Without the built-in TV tuners, radio and other things the typical Japanese are used to, of course the iPhone would have less appeal to customers.

But they have iPhone emoticons or "emoji". We need to use the easter egg at the Spell Number app to get them.
Cubist
Reply
Cubist
Reply
post #13 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adjei View Post

Are they also not interested in the powerful Nokia phones people talk about here with all their so called features, why did Nokia pull out of that market?

I assume that you've never used a Japanese phone?

Japanese phones have features that simply aren't relevent anywhere else (i.e. 1seg tuners). Each one is designed to order for a specific carrier.

It's a model where the carrier has all of the power and generates all of the profit. Nokia has pulled out of the Japanese market (apart from their Vertu range) but, more interestingly, so have several high profile Japanese manufacturers. Recent changes in the law mean that people in Japan are keeping their phones longer and there simply isn't any profit in it for the manufacturers anymore.

Nokia failed because they had the wrong features. Nokia pulled out because there's no profits to be made by manufacturers in Japan.
post #14 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

I assume that you've never used a Japanese phone?

Japanese phones have features that simply aren't relevent anywhere else (i.e. 1seg tuners). Each one is designed to order for a specific carrier.

It's a model where the carrier has all of the power and generates all of the profit. Nokia has pulled out of the Japanese market (apart from their Vertu range) but, more interestingly, so have several high profile Japanese manufacturers. Recent changes in the law mean that people in Japan are keeping their phones longer and there simply isn't any profit in it for the manufacturers anymore.

Nokia failed because they had the wrong features. Nokia pulled out because there's no profits to be made by manufacturers in Japan.

"Nokia failed because they had the wrong features." Quote of the year.
post #15 of 38
Not really a law but a guideline from the government on pricing of handsets.
with wide adaption of purchase in installment for handsets, people tend to get the high-end ones and use it throughout the 2 years.

Also, I want to see infrared for exchange of contact to happen in iphone, either build-in or apple-sanctioned method of using attachment that connects to dock connector.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

I assume that you've never used a Japanese phone?

Japanese phones have features that simply aren't relevent anywhere else (i.e. 1seg tuners). Each one is designed to order for a specific carrier.

It's a model where the carrier has all of the power and generates all of the profit. Nokia has pulled out of the Japanese market (apart from their Vertu range) but, more interestingly, so have several high profile Japanese manufacturers. Recent changes in the law mean that people in Japan are keeping their phones longer and there simply isn't any profit in it for the manufacturers anymore.

Nokia failed because they had the wrong features. Nokia pulled out because there's no profits to be made by manufacturers in Japan.
post #16 of 38
So they brought the pricing into line with what a lot of companies in other countries have been offering for quite some time.

The Japanese market is probably the most secular 90%+ of handsets sold there are from Japanese manufacturers.
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.
Reply
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.
Reply
post #17 of 38
Free 3G iPhone (8GB) with a two year contract is a great deal. The cancellation fee is just ~$100 (9975 yen).
post #18 of 38
Missing iPhone functions have little to do with it, you guys are completely out of touch with what going on in the world. Japan is being hit hard by the world economic downturn.

"Japan’s economy, the world’s second largest, is deteriorating at its worst pace since the oil crisis of the 1970s, hurt by shrinking exports and anemic spending at home."

Japan’s Economy Plunges at Fastest Pace Since ’74
post #19 of 38
There will be undisclosed quotas with all of the carriers that Apple have agreements with. This is to ensure that the network keeps promoting the handset and moving inventory. I would imagine that there is a clause in the agreement with the network that if they miss the agreed targets then Apple can then sell the iPhone to a different network.
post #20 of 38
Can someone comment about the language input on Asian phones. It seems almost all of native Japanese/Korean phones don't have any type of "QWERTY" and simply use a keypad. Obviously they don't use latin letters, but wouldn't some type of alternative input system work better than the number keys? I assume that they use some type of on-screen keyboard considering it seems a lot of their phones use a stylus.

Does the iPhone solution work well? Is it normal for Asian speaking populations to use a finger-based touchscreen keyboard?
post #21 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by emulator View Post

coolness and hype only sell in america for some reasons; europe and japan will care more about functions, or with the iphone, rather the lack of them...

laughing my a$$ off at the thought that coolness and hype doesn't sell in japan!!
"We're Apple. We don't wear suits. We don't even own suits."
Reply
"We're Apple. We don't wear suits. We don't even own suits."
Reply
post #22 of 38
The Japanese new school year, new jobs, new fiscal year starts April 1 and spring campaigns & discounts targeting new users are a common theme this time of year. Recent channel checks with Japanese mobile retailers said iPhone sales picked up and stabilized in late October~November after initial drop-off in August~September. Recently added Emoji features, more Japanese app content and Softbank one-seg TV tuner iPhone accessory that went on sale in December were cited as factors helping sales. Also new models from KDDI/AU and Docomo are expensive compared to iPhone.

This new Softbank iPhone plan is aggressive and could help drive sales with college students, younger workers starting new jobs, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Seen together with Best Buy's discounts this week, the move could be geared toward clearing inventory ahead of an expected June announcement of a new iPhone handset. The SoftBank promotion expires the final day of May.

Another possible explanation for the discounts is that Apple's iPhone partners may be feeling pressure to meet sales quotas for the iPhone 3G tied to their contracts with Cupertino-based company before a revised model his the market.
post #23 of 38
i was really trying to hold out for the next revision, that seems to obviously now be coming in june. nice tempting prices.

i would say the biggest missing "feature" is quick text entry. unlike typing in english on the qwerty keyboard, in japanese there is NO auto-correction. this makes typing on the qwerty really hard (japanese use qwerty all the time for typing in japanese, it is called "romaji" - ka = か, etc; it is easy). this is a usability killer. the other japanese text entry method is slow. typing on a traditional keypad in japanese is really fast. also, the emoticons are NOT compatible with other phones! most of them do not work in messages sent to other people - the standard cross-operator set of emoji seem not to be supported (massive oversight there!). so, they are almost useless. and, especially for women, they are pretty much required for communication here.

and, yes, a strap-hole would be really smart for japan. perhaps the iphone 2,1 will have a case part that can be customized for japan that allows this? would be smart. the japanese market likes to feel it is special - that is just normal for doing business here.

compared to local phones, top of the line nokia products are also missing advanced features that are standard here, like digital tv and ic card for making payments/train tickets. and, unlike the iphone, they are just "standard" forms for phones. and, they were really big in size, compared to local phones and the iphone. and, i think they cost the same or more as local products. the operators had too many requirements and nokia can't keep pace. fail.

i dont think the economic downturn has caused the perceived slower takeup of iphones here. it has really just hit japan now, in full. so, this plan is probably also to keep iphone moving during this period. timing is just right.

yes, there are tons of reasons people buy phones. i am sure no one buys it only on coolness and hype. and, if they do - so what? you can't tell someone bought the phone for the "wrong" reason... they bought it already! arguing about that is kinda boring.

also, this new "season" of phones from all the operators here sees more "touch screen" phones... however, most of them quite frankly can't compare. they are really normal phones, with a touch screen added - so, some programs or unique applications use the touch screen, but not the whole ui in most cases.

anyway... can't wait till june! hope these prices continue till then! probably won't though :-(
post #24 of 38
On a recent visit, across multiple train rides I reckoned over 25% of people using a phone on the train were using iPhones. It seems far more popular than the press reports.
post #25 of 38
@TenoBell: "Missing iPhone functions have little to do with it, you guys are completely out of touch with what going on in the world. Japan is being hit hard by the world economic downturn. "

Thank you for saying something sensible. To all: I'm a guy using an iPhone in Japan - as are lots of Japanese I see with the device in public. A poor camera, lack of TV, lack of IC card, etc. are downsides in Japan - but "the iPhone lacks <fill in blank>" is hardly news; it has shortcomings that provide some downside in every market. Meanwhile, the unique interface, app store, and more provide a real upside for buyers, in Japan as everywhere.

Are certain shortcomings particularly strong deal-killers in Japan? It could turn out to be so - which we can claim as fact when there's proof. Until then, I do wish we'd have less of the "Ooh, it can't succeed, everything's so different there" uninformed punditry. As pointed out, there are far more immediate reasons why Softbank might be discounting the iPhone. End-of-season sales push. Inventory clearance for a new model. And the HUGE reason: a tanking economy. EVERYONE is in trouble right now. Toyota and Honda are suffering. The iPhone's not moving fast enough? Neither is the Toyota Crown. Let's see how the iPhone performs when people are back in buying mode.

Let's also note that, even if a real difference in consumer preference does turn out to exist, any label of one market as "more sophisticated" than another is pure subjective opinion. Consider this: What if and that's a big "if" - it does turn out that the North American market primarily values the iPhone's value as a pocket computer with innovative touch interface and thousands of apps that turn it into an infinite variety of tools for work and entertainment... while the Japanese market (as oft reported) primarily seeks TV, smilies, and Hello Kitty dongles? Which would you say is a sophisticated market valuing real functionality, and which is an unsophisticated market distracted by trivial shiny stuff?

Something to think about.

Aside to winterspan: The iPhone offers both QWERTY and ten-key input options for Japanese. (You can enable these on any iPhone; it doesn't have to be a Japan model or any such.) So users have their choice of input methods.
post #26 of 38
25% of phone users with iPhones in Japan? No way. I ride the train everyday. It's way less than 1 %. Most of the folks I see using one are gaijin (non-Japanese).

The question I have is whether they will now forgo the ¥80000 up front for foreigners who want the iPhone.

It has great features, just not all what Japanese want. And the texting features and text entry in general suck. It's a great internet device, but not such a great phone for Japanese consumers.
post #27 of 38
When SoftBank started offering the iPhone, they only sold a 16GB version:

see :http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2008/0...-failure-myth/
post #28 of 38
I am moving back to Japan next month so it's fantastic to have a deal like this.

Still, let's not kid ourselves regarding the iPhone in Japan, please. If people actually want to trick themselves into believing the iPhone's relative lack of success in Japan is an economic factor, then Apple can never truly address the problems the iPhone has in that market. Japanese sales of the phone were never numerically notable and the criticism of Japanese iPhone sales is nothing new. People lined up for the iPhone at launch, yes, but so did people for the Xbox, one of the worst selling mainstream gaming platforms. On top of that, the fact the phone's on the Softbank network should tell you something about its ability to be as relevant as it is in the U.S. and other countries.

However, are terrible sales the reason for this Softbank promotion? Not necessarily, no. As said above, there are numerous reasons possible for this promotion.

Still, again, let's not kid ourselves about the iPhone 3G in Japan and its sales.
post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by rpsx View Post

also, the emoticons are NOT compatible with other phones! most of them do not work in messages sent to other people - the standard cross-operator set of emoji seem not to be supported (massive oversight there!). so, they are almost useless. and, especially for women, they are pretty much required for communication here.

Actually, I saw yesterday that AU <-> Softbank emoji works now. I'm not sure about DoCoMo though...

http://plusd.itmedia.co.jp/mobile/ar...4/news057.html
nothing here, move along...
Reply
nothing here, move along...
Reply
post #30 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by umijin View Post

25% of phone users with iPhones in Japan? No way. I ride the train everyday. It's way less than 1 %. Most of the folks I see using one are gaijin (non-Japanese).

The question I have is whether they will now forgo the ¥80000 up front for foreigners who want the iPhone

3/4 of my foriegn friends (gaijin) have iPhones and NONE of them had to pay the 80,000yen up front charge. The only time you are forced to pay that charge (foreigner or not) is when you dont want to pay the montly fee to buy the phone (about 1,600yen per month for 24 months for the 16GB version before this new campaign).
nothing here, move along...
Reply
nothing here, move along...
Reply
post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by fulmer View Post

Actually, I saw yesterday that AU <-> Softbank emoji works now. I'm not sure about DoCoMo though...

http://plusd.itmedia.co.jp/mobile/ar...4/news057.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by rpsx View Post

the emoticons are NOT compatible with other phones! most of them do not work in messages sent to other people - the standard cross-operator set of emoji seem not to be supported (massive oversight there!). (

Yes AU and Softbank emoji are now compatible. Now if only Docomo will play nice. Each vendor's emoji use different mappings in the Unicode private use area so there has not been much compatibility effort, especially from Docomo. I attended a Japanese font panel discussion on emoji compatibility issues in 2005 and Docomo told KDDI, Microsoft, Adobe and Apple that incompatibility was everybody else's problem.

Apple and Google have teamed up to try and solve the problem:
http://code.google.com/p/emoji4unicode/

Hope it works and other vendors join in. There seems to be a lot of interest in iphone emoji with apps to unlock the feature for non-softbank iphones. With vendor compatibility emoji could be a hit outside of Japan.

JB
post #32 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel Breckinridge View Post

There seems to be a lot of interest in iphone emoji with apps to unlock the feature for non-softbank iphones. With vendor compatibility emoji could be a hit outside of Japan.

JB

In the U.S. people download the free app "Spell Number" and follow instructions to unlock emoticons or emoji. It works iPhone to iPhone only.
Cubist
Reply
Cubist
Reply
post #33 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by FireEmblemPride View Post

...let's not kid ourselves about the iPhone 3G in Japan and its sales.

Right. Any discussions should be based on facts - i.e., on actual numbers. Which are... what?

It's a wee annoying to see all this discussion of poor iPhone sales without any numbers to actually show that sales are poor! It's certainly possible that they're disappointing, or even downright lousy. But where's the data? Anybody know some numbers?

Until then, let's all not kid ourselves that we know what we're talking about. \
post #34 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by fulmer View Post

3/4 of my foriegn friends (gaijin) have iPhones and NONE of them had to pay the 80,000yen up front charge. The only time you are forced to pay that charge (foreigner or not) is when you dont want to pay the montly fee to buy the phone (about 1,600yen per month for 24 months for the 16GB version before this new campaign).

Not true. It depends on your visa and the shop. Folks with US military visa status (SOFA), whether they are active duty or contractors, were required to pay the phone cost up front as little as a month ago.
post #35 of 38
we shouldn't also kid ourselves about expectations. i doubt very much that apple expected to have the same impact in Japan that they have had in the US and elsewhere - we shouldn't be crying "apple is teh doomed" over sales/market reaction in Japan.
"We're Apple. We don't wear suits. We don't even own suits."
Reply
"We're Apple. We don't wear suits. We don't even own suits."
Reply
post #36 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by umijin View Post

Not true. It depends on your visa and the shop. Folks with US military visa status (SOFA), whether they are active duty or contractors, were required to pay the phone cost up front as little as a month ago.

Sure, military (temp, short term assignment) or tourists should be paying the fee, but not people who actually live here permanently or long term (like you said with the VISA status). Thats a given... Sorry, thought that was understood already.
nothing here, move along...
Reply
nothing here, move along...
Reply
post #37 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel Breckinridge View Post

Yes AU and Softbank emoji are now compatible. Now if only Docomo will play nice.

actually, i was just going based on my experience. i am on docomo, with a typical handset from nec, and i can get emoji fine from people on au or softbank.... except of course my one iphone friend on softbank - i just get big ugly strange equals signs (softbank logos?) where emoji should be (except for maybe 1 out of 10 that show up right).

after taking a closer look at the article, it seems like there is post-send processing done by softbank's mail servers that convert the emoji code on the iphone email into au compatible code when heading towards an au phone? at least, thats what i gathered from the google translation (which i trust way more then my japanese, haha). if so, then this sounds like a cheap workaround done by softbank (but, if apple doesnt do anything, what choice do they have?).
post #38 of 38
gives iPhones out for free with expensive contracts, too. yet, that guy, Chen, be he a huge scoundrel, he was indeed hanging somewhere around the facts...

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

Reply

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: iPhone
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › SoftBank now giving away iPhones in Japan