Japanese reluctance to iPhone – are the japanese more mobile savy?

While Apple and the operators can bask in the glory of strong sales worldwide since the launch of the iPhone 3G, with the UK alone contributing with 1 million iPhones sold, the Japanese are hesitant to adopting the iPhone. What makes the Japanese not warm up to the iPhone and are they just more advanced in the mobile world then the rest of us?

Reports indicate that the Japanese are indeed not warming up to the Apple iPhone as sales are slowing down in the wildest mobile market in the world (source: Guardian). After selling around 200,000 iPhones in the first couple of months sales have plummeted  in Japan to the point where the mobile carrier is now giving away the 8gb iPhone.

So what do the Japanese know about that the rest of us don’t? Well, we all know some of the limitations of the iPhone 3G, such as the lack of mobile messaging and a decent camera, both functionalities that are high up on the requirement list among Japanese mobile users. Japan has long been in the forefront of the advancement of the mobile market, and the speed of the networks over there surpass what we are used to, opening up for earlier adoption of streaming media and multimedia messaging, including video calls, compared to the western market. In truth, there are just phones available in the Japanese market that surpasses Apple and their iPhone in technical functionality, making it difficult to penetrate the mobile savvy Japanese market.

So have the reluctance of Japan come as a surprise to Apple? I very much doubt so. There is a reason why a company like Apple is so successful in the marketplace beyond delivering high quality products that consumers want; they understand the marketplace and the product lifecycle. Apple could possibly have spent another couple of months developing the iPhone 3G with even more functionality to satisfy the most tech savvy consumers out there, but instead they have understood there is way more money to be made by getting the phone out in the marketplace geared towards the wider market, giving them more opportunities to upgrade the next generation of iPhones to hit the increasing tech savvy consumers across the world. By adopting this strategy they are increasing the overall profitability of the lifecycle of the iPhone as a product.

If the rumors are correct the next generation iPhone might be more interesting for the Japanese market as it is rumored that the next generation iPhone will feature a forward facing camera for video conferencing, therefore also opening up more for the important multimedia messaging market in Japan.


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