handicapping the iPhone in Japan
For those of you who were unimpressed with this year’s MacWorld Keynote, Forbes has the latest article, Apple’s Fight In Japan, guessing whether the iPhone will do well in Japan.
It’s really hard to predict whether the iPhone will do well in Japan. I’m generally skeptical so I look to the fact that the iPhone (presumably) won’t have features that are unique to Japan such as the digital terrestrial TV tuner, or the digital wallet functionality, or the GPS functionality, etc. But Japanese consumers love new things and the iPhone would qualify, and yet maybe the hardcore have already purchased an iPod Touch?
The Forbes article touches on the fact that Japanese mobile phone users use one hand when operating their phones. That’s a significant difference with the usage of the iPhone. The iPhone is clearly a two-hand operating model, and from the market share of mobile phones with keyboards that require two-handed usage, that’s a niche market.
The question about the iPhone’s success in Japan gets to the heart of the fact that Japan’s mobile phone market is really an island unto itself, literally and figuratively. The fact that Samsung and Nokia have little-to-no market share in Japan and that Sony-Ericsson often launches separate Japan-only models speaks to the unique nature of this market.
Finally, and most importantly, will Jobs add a strap hook to the iPhone? I’ll bet he won’t, confounding the majority of Japanese users who love to accessorize their phones with straps and whatnot.
If you have thoughts on this topic, I’d love to hear from you.