updated 09:20 am EST, Tue December 18, 2007
Japanese iPhone talks
Apple is already in negotiations to release the iPhone in Japan, reports indicate. Sources say that Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently met with Masao Nakamura, the president of Japan's largest wireless carrier, NTT DoCoMo. Jobs has also supposedly met with people from Japan's third-largest carrier, Softbank, and executives from both carriers are said to have flown multiple times to Apple's Cupertino headquarters. Notably excluded from reports is Japan's second-rated carrier, KDDI.
Nakamura would only tell Reuters that a meeting "may well have happened," but other sources for the news agency claim that Apple is once again playing carriers against each other, hoping to extract the best possible revenue-sharing agreement. Softbank and DoCoMo are said to be upset over the money Apple is demanding; a concession from at least one of the carriers is likely though, as the proven popularity of the iPhone in other countries may be difficult to ignore.
Apple's main obstacle is that while iPods are already extremely popular in Japan, the iPhone would face considerable competition if released in its present state. Many high-end Japanese phones already have cameras with three megapixels or greater, and 3G broadband is extremely widespread in the country, which would make the iPhone's EDGE receiver seem inadequate. Timing a launch with the planned 3G revision would of course solve this, but a number of phones in the area have extra functions, such as FeliCa smartcard readers that enable purchases from vending machines.