Originally Posted by macarena
Even in the US, the iPhone is not the most feature rich phone out there. There are a lot of other phones which have more features than the iPhone. Where iPhone trumps the others, is in the usability. Even the most complex features of the iPhone can be used by anyone in just a few minutes. Everything is so intuitive.
There are literally dozens of e-Money and e-ticket options in Japan, and the phones there support only ONE option. Practically everyone in Japan has multiple e-Money cards, because there is no way you can manage with one card on all the varied networks. Till there is some standard, and till these networks manage to talk to each other, no phone in Japan will be worthwhile as an e-Money option. If you have 5 e-Money cards, and one card is supported on the phone, what's the bloody point? Might as well carry 6 cards instead of 5!
As for TV, yes - live TV is interesting and nice - but the iPhone kind of makes up for that by its access to YouTube. And I think we are not too far from the day when we have a YouTube like solution for LiveTV - at that point even this shortcoming will be moot.
The other shortcomings of the iPhone - like lack of Infra-red contact transfer, etc -- all these just amount to different ways of doing things. E-Mail is so much better and more reliable than IR transfer. This issue is a lot like the lack of MMS in the US.
I think at some point, Apple will leverage its gestures edge to allow Japanese direct gesture based text entry. The current form of text entry in Japanese phones is a pretty crude method - using the number keys to enter words phonetically, and then select the kanji from the list displayed. Agreed people get used to the system, and some people can message really fast with this system (even without looking at the phone!!) - but a direct gesture based input method where the Kanji can be directly entered on the screen would be a whole lot better.
People in Japan complain that because of the way computers and mobile phones use phonetic input and translate to the kanji, youngsters in Japan have no opportunity to write the kanjis. So they can write the basic kanji that they learn in school, but cant write other kanji properly.
All Asian languages, with complex scripts, and characters with defined stroke orders, will actually benefit from the iPhone. It is just a matter of time before Apple (or some third party) delivers this "killer" functionality, and then people will be wondering how crude the current phones are!
The iPhone has been a fair success in Japan - and the reason it has not been an even bigger success is because of reasons outside of the phone itself. Softbank's image and network need an upgrade. I think most people would agree that whatever success iPhone has had in Japan has been inspite of Softbank - not because of Softbank. For a parallel in the US, imagine if Apple chose to launch with T-Mobile or even worse, with Sprint.