Japanese iPhone owners to be offered TV tuner add-on

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Addressing a widely-publicized feature omission for Japanese iPhone users, local carrier Softbank on Thursday announced plans to begin selling a TV Tuner add-on later this year that will also serve as an extended battery pack.



Expected to retail for around US$100 when it goes on sale in mid-December, the rechargeable brick-like receiver will include an internal Wi-Fi module and external antenna for tuning into the One-Seg (or 1seg) mobile terrestrial broadcasting service available in Japan and parts of Brazil.



The device will deliver the One-Seg signal to iPhones via Wi-Fi through a specialized application that will be made available on the App Store free of charge. This frees users to place the receiver in their purse or pocket. Alternatively, the gadget can be connected to iPhones via the dock connector, where it can then serve as an secondary iPhone battery.



It appears that Softbank, Apple's exclusive iPhone carrier in Japan, will market the unnamed device through its retail stores, advocating "around 3 hours" of continuous One-Seg viewing time. It weighs in at about 2.8 ounces and measures approximately 2.0 x 3.5 x 0.6 inches -- slightly more compact than the iPhone but a bit thicker and lighter. It can be fully recharged in about 2 hours over an AC power supply or about 4 hours over USB.



Earlier this week, Softbank announced that iPhone sales drove a near 2 percent rise in quarterly profits for its September quarter.



"The iPhone certainly supported our profit and boosted the number of new mobile phone subscribers during the quarter," a company spokesperson said. "Since the July launch, iPhone sales have been very good."







Still, there's a lingering debate among industry watchers about whether the iPhone has met initial expectations in the Far East or come up well short due to routine difficulties faced by most handset vendors when attempting to crack the Japanese cell phone market.



In a report last month, the Wall Street Journal said one barrier to adoption has been the iPhone's lack of features that are familiar to Japanese consumers and found on most other handsets sold locally. Among them were "emoji," a form of clip art that can be inserted in sentences to spruce up email messages, digital television, satellite navigation service, and chips that let owners use their phones as debit cards or train passes.



Softbank's One-Seg TV tuner device looks like a bulky iPhone. | Photo credits: AkihabaraNews



Apple and Softbank appear to be working together to fill the gaps, one feature at a time. It was recently discovered the iPhone Software 2.2, due out by the end of the year, will deliver emoji support. Meanwhile, Softbank's TV tuner device will attempt to plug the digital television void, though it remains to be seen whether Japanese consumers will find the clunky device a viable solution.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    Does it have to be so big ?

    How come TV phones in Japan are so small in comparison ?
  • Reply 2 of 23
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cozagada View Post


    Does it have to be so big ?

    How come TV phones in Japan are so small in comparison ?



    I am also surprised at how thick it is. That ad makes it look really thin, but it's really not. I will look at it if they keep the price below 1 man, as I like the idea that it also functions as a backup battery for when I'm away from a power source and need some extra juice.



    What would be good is if they also offer a desktop application for Mac (and Windows) users, as the tuner works over wifi there is no reason they couldn't. That way I could place the tuner near a window and access 1-seg from my laptop while I work etc
  • Reply 3 of 23
    It also seems to violate Apple's patent on the "look" of the iPhone being as it is the same shape, has a black glass front, with the exact same chrome ring, etc.



    Not that Apple has so far moved against all the obvious copy-cats, but this is a bit closer than most. When viewed from the front, it could easily be mistaken for an Apple-branded device.
  • Reply 4 of 23
    pmjoepmjoe Posts: 565member
    AT&T has some kind of "Mobile TV" service that is available on certain phones. Too bad it isn't on the iPhone. I assume it's just an add-in chip ... a lot simpler than this bulky thing.



    http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/me...net/mobile-tv/



    Then again, I could also wish for AM/FM/Sirius/XM radio and ATSC TV receivers, as well.



    Well, AM/FM, would at least be nice. Of course there's no profit to Apple for providing access to free content.
  • Reply 5 of 23
    johnqhjohnqh Posts: 242member
    I have mentioned this in other threads before.



    When iPhone constantly getting data from wifi and use software to decode the data, the battery won't last more than 1 hour (more like 40 minutes). This is exactly what's going on here.



    So, the main component of this TV tuner is actually the battery to charge iPhone and get the 3-hour viewing time.



    This is a pretty bad solution for a common customer demand. If Apple had it built-in (so no need to use wifi, and the decoding uses hardware instead of software), it would be super small and hardly has any impact on battery life (comparing to regular video viewing).
  • Reply 6 of 23
    FWIW: "emoji" is what we call "emoticons". "Smilies". Like this very forum has: (Also, for anyone wondering, the word "emoji" isn't derived from "emoticons"; it's picture (e) + letters (moji).)



    Though nowadays, a good set of emoticons includes many more characters than just faces. I expected Apple would be adding emoticons to the iPhone soon. Looking forward to it; iPhone users around the world will love it!
  • Reply 7 of 23
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    It also seems to violate Apple's patent on the "look" of the iPhone being as it is the same shape, has a black glass front, with the exact same chrome ring, etc.



    Not that Apple has so far moved against all the obvious copy-cats, but this is a bit closer than most. When viewed from the front, it could easily be mistaken for an Apple-branded device.



    But, since it's being offered by an official Apple iPhone distributor and network partner (the only such partner in Japan), and it's a peripheral which makes use of the Dock Connector (something only official Apple partners are licensed to do) I'll go out on a limb and guess that Softbank has already negotiated with Apple to get permission to go ahead with this design.
  • Reply 8 of 23
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Off topic but is anyone else getting ads for the Mormons served up at them on AI a lot recently?



    Or are they only interested in saving me from eternal damnation?
  • Reply 9 of 23
    pxtpxt Posts: 683member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RichL View Post


    Off topic but is anyone else getting ads for the Mormons served up at them on AI a lot recently?



    Or are they only interested in saving me from eternal damnation?



    It's Mormons and gay dating services.



    Last time this happened, I ended up buying an iPhone.
  • Reply 10 of 23
    I can't see any reason for the tuner and battery to require such a large housing. Perhaps there's more to the device than stated in the article, but it does look rather large for something so basic.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    TV is dying, for me at least.

    Always commercials commercials...Manipulated information...Overreacting people...LiesLiesLies...

    The people that want to watch tv on such a little screen when they are out shopping or whatever, they have a big problem imo.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by johnqh View Post


    I have mentioned this in other threads before.



    When iPhone constantly getting data from wifi and use software to decode the data, the battery won't last more than 1 hour (more like 40 minutes). This is exactly what's going on here.



    So, the main component of this TV tuner is actually the battery to charge iPhone and get the 3-hour viewing time.



    This is a pretty bad solution for a common customer demand. If Apple had it built-in (so no need to use wifi, and the decoding uses hardware instead of software), it would be super small and hardly has any impact on battery life (comparing to regular video viewing).



    You really think Apple is going to build a phone with that antenna sticking out of it? No way.
  • Reply 13 of 23
    skoozskooz Posts: 13member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RichL View Post


    Off topic but is anyone else getting ads for the Mormons served up at them on AI a lot recently?



    Or are they only interested in saving me from eternal damnation?



    That is eerie. I am mormon and I have never seen these adds. I was getting ready to write something witty about the ability to target based upon moral whatever, - when I noticed a great big banner add offering Your Free Copy of the BoM at the top of the posting page.



    Did you know that mormons believe that 1/2 of them (us) probably don't pass the cut anyway? I've already volunteered, myself. So, you can still join the church AND get the eternal damnation, no problem. It's like having liver and eating it too. . .
  • Reply 14 of 23
    dimmokdimmok Posts: 359member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cozagada View Post


    Does it have to be so big ?

    How come TV phones in Japan are so small in comparison ?



    Thats what SHE SAID!!! OH!





    Sorry, couldnt resist.





    DM
  • Reply 15 of 23
    johnqhjohnqh Posts: 242member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by craiger77 View Post


    You really think Apple is going to build a phone with that antenna sticking out of it? No way.



    One-seg is digital transmission. No bulky analog antenna. There are other cell phones with the receiver built-in, and they don't look any different from other phones.



    Take a look at this picture. do you see antenna?
  • Reply 16 of 23
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post


    AT&T has some kind of "Mobile TV" service that is available on certain phones. Too bad it isn't on the iPhone. I assume it's just an add-in chip ... a lot simpler than this bulky thing.



    Yeah we have mobile TV on our networks here too. It's possible to watch the Optus TV segments on the iPhone (wish the quality and choice was better though!). They're just mp4 videos downloaded over 3G.



    The moves for mobile TV largely try NOT to use the existing 3G bandwidth since there's not that much of it. So you'd need a receiver for whatever frequency your country and provider uses for mobile TV, plus the relevant software to extract the mp4 file from the transmission (IF they're using MP4). If it's MP4 it's simpler for iPhones - a similar example would be converting a SDTV TiVo recording to DVD... it's relatively easy for software to extract the MPEG2 files from the transmission, and then change the way it's stored (into VOB files etc) which get put onto a DVD.



    By the time they have all the mobile TV stuff sorted out, phones will be powerful enough to just receive regular digital FTA and show that.
  • Reply 17 of 23
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    You can't patent the look of something. Perhaps you mean trade mark.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    It also seems to violate Apple's patent on the "look" of the iPhone being as it is the same shape, has a black glass front, with the exact same chrome ring, etc.



    Not that Apple has so far moved against all the obvious copy-cats, but this is a bit closer than most. When viewed from the front, it could easily be mistaken for an Apple-branded device.



  • Reply 18 of 23
    ouraganouragan Posts: 436member
    Quote:

    Apple and Softbank appear to be working together to fill the gaps, one feature at a time. It was recently discovered the iPhone Software 2.2, due out by the end of the year, will deliver emoji support. Meanwhile, Softbank's TV tuner device will attempt to plug the digital television void, though it remains to be seen whether Japanese consumers will find the clunky device a viable solution.





    Apple should develop a new model of iPhone to include all the missing features. This second model, the iPhone TV, would be a market leader wherever digital TV is offered over the airwaves, as in France and the U.S.



    Over time, the iPhone TV model would become not only the top selling model, but the only model.



    Among the missing features to be addressed by this new model are a FM radio receiver, a voice recorder with dictation software for spoken word recognition, a film recording feature to make films, not just still photos, a top of the line digital picture sensor and lens to increase picture definition to 3 Megapixels, if not 5 Megapixels, a higher resolution screen for crisp viewing, a user replaceable battery, 4G WiMax, etc.



    While these features can and will reduce battery life, Apple cannot sell a cell phone at a premium price without offering competitive features, without offering features which are already available on other cell phones.



    And it doesn't matter if the new iPhone TV is higher, slightly wider, and thicker as a result of the new features. If fact, a bigger and crisper screen would be a bonus for viewing content. And it's time for a divorce from iTunes, as the iPhone is much more than a method for listening to and viewing content bought on iTunes.



    If Apple can't compete on prices and features, it will reach the same glass ceiling that it has reached on the Mac market, i.e. a 5% world market share of Apple fans who forgive Apple for its high prices and missing features. If you don't know what I am talking about, HP has been offering quad-core Intel desktop computers since November 2007, and mobile quad-core Intel computers are starting to appear from every major computer manufacturer except Apple.



    Consumers will not forgive a company which cannot offer competitive products at a competitive price.



  • Reply 19 of 23
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TBell View Post


    You can't patent the look of something. Perhaps you mean trade mark.



    Design patent vs. utility patent. In other words, yes, you can patent the "look" of something.
  • Reply 20 of 23
    Apple will have to engage in the same "feature creep" as other phone manufacturers, or risk making no sale after no sale with the locals in these niche markets.
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