Apple in iPhone talks with two of Japans largest carriers

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple Inc. this month is moving on plans to launch the iPhone across parts of Asia next year, recently meeting with executives from two of Japan's premier mobile wireless carriers, sources are telling both The Wall Street Journal and Reuters.



People familiar with the matter told the Journal that Apple chief executive Steve Jobs recently met with NTT DoCoMo's president, Masao Nakamura, to discuss a deal to offer the touch-screen phone and internet device through the top Japanese carrier.



Those same people said Apple has also been talking to No. 3 operator Softbank Corp. and executives from both companies have made multiple trips to Apple's Cupertino, Calif.-based headquarters.



Spokespeople for Apple, DoCoMo and Softbank all reportedly declined to comment on the talks.



For Apple, moving into Japan -- the world's second-largest economy -- is compelling not only because of its strong base of iPod fans, but also because of its nearly 100 million mobile-phone users who buy new phones every two years on average, the Journal said.



"Japanese consumers are also already used to shelling out hundreds of dollars for expensive phones with advanced capabilities such as digital television, camera and music."



While Softbank is reportedly expressing divine interest in partnering with Apple, it's reported that DoCoMo is likely to be the iPhone maker's first choice as a partner because of the strong preference it has shown so far for signing agreements with top mobile operators.



While discussions with both carriers remain active, neither has taken lightly to Apple's demand that it receive approximately 10 percent of iPhone service revenues, Reuters said, citing its own sources.



"If it can't reach a deal with DoCoMo, Apple may turn to Softbank, which has been making an aggressive push to take customers away from its larger rivals," the Journal added. "A person familiar with the situation said Apple doesn't expect to have any difficulty concluding a deal with a Japanese operator."



The same cannot yet be said for Apple's efforts to secure a deal in China, where it also hopes to launch iPhone sometime next year. Multiple reports last month suggested that talks between the company and China's two most popular wireless carriers -- China Mobile and China Unicom -- had so far failed as a result of similar revenue sharing disputes.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    I was hoping for AU, so on this news I guess I'll be out of luck unless I move networks (which I don't want to).



    Maybe they'll do an unlocked one for a reasonable price. And maybe it'll have 32gb of storage. Hey It's Christmas time, I can wish...
  • Reply 2 of 36
    I'm currently living in Japan. I use NTT Docomo. All telecommunications in Japan are expensive compared to America. I spend at least $100 USD per month for basic calling and email on my phone.



    Softbank plays a nasty game to get new customers. They charge upwards of $500 to $600 USD for their phones, and nicely split that new phone cost over the next 24 months on your bill. Then they offer low-cost plans. In the end, it equals out almost with NTT.



    Japan's cell networks are much different than others. We have actual email on our phones from the cell provider. Because of how bad the pricing is, I could imagine the data charges being nasty and not unlimited. Also, voicemail isn't a standard feature (at least for docomo). I'd have to pay extra just to get voicemail before possibly having visual voicemail. I'd love an iPhone, but I'm not sure how it will fit into Japan.
  • Reply 3 of 36
    Anyone think the iPhone will sell well in Japan? They've already got the fastest networks and full-featured phones that easily outdo the the iPhone in number of features including built-in TV tuners. Unless the iPhone is considered so fad or prestige item, I can't see it selling all that well. I know the user interface is probably much better than what is offered on handsets in Japan, but will that be enough? The Japanese love texting and I'm guessing that the virtual keyboard won't satisfy the Japanese at all.



    So what's your take on future sales?
  • Reply 4 of 36
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,293member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post


    Anyone think the iPhone will sell well in Japan? They've already got the fastest networks and full-featured phones that easily outdo the the iPhone in number of features including built-in TV tuners. Unless the iPhone is considered so fad or prestige item, I can't see it selling all that well. I know the user interface is probably much better than what is offered on handsets in Japan, but will that be enough? The Japanese love texting and I'm guessing that the virtual keyboard won't satisfy the Japanese at all.



    So what's your take on future sales?



    Have patience grasshopper. we shall all have to wait and see
  • Reply 5 of 36
    Yeah, I live in Tokyo too and use Au. I thought it was funny that visual voicemail was so revolutionary for iPhone. I've had that for years, BUT, I can only have 3 voicemail messages! It's not a problem for me as I hardly ever talk on my phone.



    I'd like to see the iPhone come to Japan, but would enough of the features and services be in English? Yeah my 3G Sony Ericsson phone might have a ton of awesome features, but they are ALL in Japanese save for the ability to send e-mail and browse the Internet.



    So unless the maps features and all that other stuff has an English UI, the iPhone will be just like all the other phones in Japan, super useful, but only if you can read Japanese.



    Save for a few models the past year, no phones here have QWERTY keyboards. Everyone hits the same 9 buttons multiple times to enter text. It's easier in Japanese than in English. So even the iPhone's weak touch keyboard would probably be an improvement, at least for English input.
  • Reply 6 of 36
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post


    Anyone think the iPhone will sell well in Japan? They've already got the fastest networks and full-featured phones that easily outdo the the iPhone in number of features including built-in TV tuners. Unless the iPhone is considered so fad or prestige item, I can't see it selling all that well. I know the user interface is probably much better than what is offered on handsets in Japan, but will that be enough? The Japanese love texting and I'm guessing that the virtual keyboard won't satisfy the Japanese at all.



    So what's your take on future sales?



    I think it needs 3G etc to take off in Japan

    - but the Japanese keyboard, and romaji, hiragana, katakana, Kanji stuff is really good and intuitive.

    - I think it's easier to use than the normal Japanese phone UI

    - although on the current iPhone you still have to type in romaji - but I think most Japanese are ok with this - perhaps they'll do a hiragana modes for the release.



    - but even as it is, I think an iPhone would be really popular for Texting.

    - I've tried my iPod Touch with a Japanese friend, and they thought it was pretty good.



    Edit: Actually, I'm only referring to the iPod Touch here - I don't have an iPhone so I don't know if it actually supports Japanese yet! But the iPod Touch does - and it's pretty good, and Nihon-jin friendly.
  • Reply 7 of 36
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Divine interest? Well they sure think highly of themselves
  • Reply 8 of 36
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jcollin3k View Post


    Yeah, I live in Tokyo too and use Au. I thought it was funny that visual voicemail was so revolutionary for iPhone. I've had that for years, BUT, I can only have 3 voicemail messages! It's not a problem for me as I hardly ever talk on my phone.



    I'd like to see the iPhone come to Japan, but would enough of the features and services be in English? Yeah my 3G Sony Ericsson phone might have a ton of awesome features, but they are ALL in Japanese save for the ability to send e-mail and browse the Internet.



    So unless the maps features and all that other stuff has an English UI, the iPhone will be just like all the other phones in Japan, super useful, but only if you can read Japanese.



    Save for a few models the past year, no phones here have QWERTY keyboards. Everyone hits the same 9 buttons multiple times to enter text. It's easier in Japanese than in English. So even the iPhone's weak touch keyboard would probably be an improvement, at least for English input.



    The iPhone / iPod Touch are pretty good at swapping between Japanese modes & English modes, so you should be ok - probably!

    - but you're right - Google Maps will probably come up in Kanji - you'll just have to learn it!

  • Reply 9 of 36
    I'm using the Toshiba W53T at the moment (on AU as I said before). One of the reasons I chose it is because it's bilingual, so the UI is all in English (save for the GPS software, but I can get around that now thanks to a little help).



    Anyway apart from people like me who want my phone to sync and act as a PDA too, I'm not sure it will do too well in Japan unless they add more (hardware) features. After all pretty much every phone now has 1seg TV and a GPS, not to mention felica and other useful goodies. So will Apple end up producing a new iPhone with these features? I'm not sure it's viable.



    Plus as others have mentioned the messaging software in japan is a whole different ballgame to other countries, so they can't get away with the standard SMS and Apple Mail software.



    We'll have to see though...maybe they have a trick up their sleeve.
  • Reply 10 of 36
    I wonder which wireless technology the iphone will need. As far as i know, there is no GSM Network in Japan
  • Reply 11 of 36
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Quote:

    I spend at least $100 USD per month for basic calling and email on my phone. They charge upwards of $500 to $600 USD for their phones, and nicely split that new phone cost over the next 24 months on your bill. Then they offer low-cost plans. In the end, it equals out almost with NTT. We have actual email on our phones from the cell provider. Because of how bad the pricing is, I could imagine the data charges being nasty and not unlimited.



    Its funny to see these comments and right after people continue to talk about Japan's advanced networks. I think I prefer our slower less advanced network with unlimited data at my current price.



    Quote:

    Yeah, I live in Tokyo too and use Au. I thought it was funny that visual voicemail was so revolutionary for iPhone. I've had that for years, BUT, I can only have 3 voicemail messages! It's not a problem for me as I hardly ever talk on my phone.



    On the iPhone you get to have way more than 3 messages.



    Quote:

    Google Maps will probably come up in Kanji - you'll just have to learn it!



    The iPhone's Maps widget is written by Apple using Google API's. Likely it will be in whatever form of Japanese language Apple normally uses.
  • Reply 12 of 36
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by urbansprawl View Post


    I'm currently living in Japan. I use NTT Docomo. All telecommunications in Japan are expensive compared to America. I spend at least $100 USD per month for basic calling and email on my phone.



    Softbank plays a nasty game to get new customers. They charge upwards of $500 to $600 USD for their phones, and nicely split that new phone cost over the next 24 months on your bill. Then they offer low-cost plans. In the end, it equals out almost with NTT.



    Japan's cell networks are much different than others. We have actual email on our phones from the cell provider. Because of how bad the pricing is, I could imagine the data charges being nasty and not unlimited. Also, voicemail isn't a standard feature (at least for docomo). I'd have to pay extra just to get voicemail before possibly having visual voicemail. I'd love an iPhone, but I'm not sure how it will fit into Japan.



    Wow, all this sounds somewhat primitive and expensive!



    Are you sure you're not kidding?! All I hear in these forums is how phenomenally advanced and wonderful and sophisticated the Japanese mobile phone system is.
  • Reply 13 of 36
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post


    The Japanese love texting and I'm guessing that the virtual keyboard won't satisfy the Japanese at all.



    Why not?

  • Reply 14 of 36
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jcollin3k View Post


    ..... the iPhone's weak touch keyboard .....



    Wow. Where/how did you come up with this confident assessment? (Similar to my question to Constable Odo above).
  • Reply 15 of 36
    The good news behind this story is that for the iPhone to work in Japan it will almost certainly mean that the Radio is upgraded to 3G (W-CDMA), which is the 3G standard used in Europe by O2, TMobile and Orange. Note DoCoMo was one of the original drives of the 3G (W-CDMA) Standard. It also adds credibility to the other stories that refer to the arrival of a 3G compatible phone. Note the 3rd network in Japan, KDDI, uses a Radio technology that is based on the standard used by Sprint and Verizon, hence why there is no reference to them as one of the Apple Partners. Overall the concerns about speed and features of other phones supplied by Softbank and DoCoMo being more competitive than the current iPhone would be erased if a 3G version arrives. This story if true benefits everybody, Apple in particular.
  • Reply 16 of 36
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Its not a rumor that 3G is coming Steve Jobs has said so numerous times. He hinted at the time frame of late 2008.
  • Reply 17 of 36
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post


    Anyone think the iPhone will sell well in Japan? They've already got the fastest networks and full-featured phones that easily outdo the the iPhone in number of features including built-in TV tuners. Unless the iPhone is considered so fad or prestige item, I can't see it selling all that well. I know the user interface is probably much better than what is offered on handsets in Japan, but will that be enough? The Japanese love texting and I'm guessing that the virtual keyboard won't satisfy the Japanese at all.



    So what's your take on future sales?



    I think it has far less to do with speed and such than with the User Experience. I think iPhone will sell VERY well there, though it may not conquer the market, I'll give it 18 months to take a 25% share of the market in JP.



    "It's the UI, Stupid!"



  • Reply 18 of 36
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Wow, all this sounds somewhat primitive and expensive!



    Are you sure you're not kidding?! All I hear in these forums is how phenomenally advanced and wonderful and sophisticated the Japanese mobile phone system is.



    Sure, as another person wrote, there is 1seg and other advanced technologies for the phone, people use their cellphone to pay tolls on the expressways, etc. I'm just saying that they pay heavily for these features and expensive phone bills is common for everyone. I was pretty shocked that I couldn't have something as simple as voicemail for free. I'm American, so I just expected such a thing would be included.
  • Reply 19 of 36
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rb07866598859 View Post


    The good news behind this story is that for the iPhone to work in Japan it will almost certainly mean that the Radio is upgraded to 3G (W-CDMA), which is the 3G standard used in Europe by O2, TMobile and Orange. Note DoCoMo was one of the original drives of the 3G (W-CDMA) Standard. It also adds credibility to the other stories that refer to the arrival of a 3G compatible phone. Note the 3rd network in Japan, KDDI, uses a Radio technology that is based on the standard used by Sprint and Verizon, hence why there is no reference to them as one of the Apple Partners. Overall the concerns about speed and features of other phones supplied by Softbank and DoCoMo being more competitive than the current iPhone would be erased if a 3G version arrives. This story if true benefits everybody, Apple in particular.



    Still, 3G alone only puts it into the Japanese market. Apple would have to add some of the features here in Japan to be really competitive. Did you know I can go to McDonalds and every wrapper has a 3d barcode. I can scan it with my phone's camera and it will open the web browser and take me to a webpage about the sandwich with the nutrition contents. There are lots of things that Apple doesn't have that people just expect their phones to do here. BUT, a while back, my friend said there was a big tv show on about the iPhone and there is hype building in Japan for it.
  • Reply 20 of 36
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by urbansprawl View Post


    Still, 3G alone only puts it into the Japanese market. Apple would have to add some of the features here in Japan to be really competitive. Did you know I can go to McDonalds and every wrapper has a 3d barcode. I can scan it with my phone's camera and it will open the web browser and take me to a webpage about the sandwich with the nutrition contents.



    I'll save you & apple the bother - MacDonalds - content - mechanically recovered crap off semi-putrid carcasses.

    - there, didn't need no fancy barcode to tell me that!

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