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Study: 91% of Japanese don't want iPhone 3G

updated 12:20 pm EDT, Wed June 18, 2008

Japan iPhone 3G Study

Despite the relative success of the iPod in Japan, the iPhone 3G isn't likely to get an immediate footing in the country, according to a new iSHARE study. Of the Japanese adults polled, 91 percent say they have no plans to buy the device when it becomes available on July 11th. Of the remaining nine percent, nearly all (8.9 percent of the total) said they planned to purchase the device. Slightly under half of these are users already signed up for SoftBank, the carrier picked for the initial Japanese launch.

The demand is a slight decrease from nearly a year ago despite the reduced pricing and features, the research group notes: about 9.6 percent were committed in July 2007 to buying an iPhone if made available for their carrier. About 62.2 percent of the survey group was also seriously considering the device after weighing its features and availability.

iSHARE doesn't make a direct explanation for customers' choices but notes that SoftBank is relatively small in the Japanese market with 22.9 percent of those polled using the network. Originally government-backed NTT DoCoMo holds the clearest lead at 39.8 percent of all the subscribers in the study, while KDDI's au service is used by 26.9 percent of the group.

The researchers also attempt to make the absence of a removable battery a point of contention in the study and say that 77.1 of those asked prefer a removable battery, though the report doesn't specifically ask respondents which if any technical reasons are considered hurdles to buying the iPhone.

Japan has been historically resistant to adopting non-native phones both due to network limitations and for technological preferences. Japanese networks require 3G cellular service both for calls and data, excluding many 2G-only phones altogether; most media-intensive phones in the country also focus on services such as the Japan-only 1Seg digital TV standard as well as very high resolution (800x480) displays, neither of which will be available with first-run iPhone 3G models.

by MacNN Staff



  1. armwt

    Joined: Dec 1969


    On the flip side...

    Does this mean that 9% of the Japanese population is going to buy one?

    If so, that's over 11 million iPhones right there.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I don't think that's really an accurate reflection of who is interested in buying the phone. I do think one thing that's missing from it if they want to hook the japanese market is the little hole to put phone straps on. I think the younger crowd will love the iphone.

  1. Elektrix

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: On the flip side...

    Good point. Considering how big cellphones are in Japan, getting 9% of the adult population to buy an iPhone seems pretty impressive (not that I think this translates to 9% of the adult population actually buying an iPhone). I think Apple would be ecstatic to get that kind of marketshare though.

  1. Gee4orce

    Joined: Dec 1969


    12 Million Are ?

    So, does that mean that the other 9% of the 124 Million ARE planning on getting one ? If so, that's a major result - 12 Million iPhone users just in Japan ! :o

    (Of course not - these surveys are meaningless, but I thought I'd point out the contra-argument that can be drawn from these statistics).

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not meant for Japan...yet

    "...most media-intensive phones in the country also focus on services such as the Japan-only 1Seg digital TV standard as well as very high resolution (800x480) displays, neither of which will be available with first-run iPhone 3G models"

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    a proud nation

    Japanese (as well as Korean) markets are somewhat different. They are extremely proud of their domestic industry (especially in technology), and make it a point to buy domestic (much like oft-attempted, always unsuccessful 'Buy American' movement in the US). While Americans tend to choose best features/quality for the same money (or cheapest option for the same quality/features), Japanese (and Korean) tend to prefer domestic even if a foreign product may be better.

    Still, survey might point to quite decent adoption rate for the iPhone.

  1. Marook

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What 2G only does 3G?

    "...Japanese networks require 3G cellular service both for calls and data, excluding many 2G-only phones altogether..."

    So, what 2G phones is it that does 3G? If there is no 2G service, how is ANY 2G phone able to use the 3G network??? Just puzzled.. ;-)

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    non-tarrif barriers

    Japan is a unique phone market. There are tons of barriers for non-japanese firms entering the market.

    Japanese Carriers often collaborate closely with the companies that make the phones, so the interface tends to be more-or-less standardized across brands offered by a particular carrier. The iPhone interface is nothing like the other phones on the Japanese market. Many people won't want to move to a system they are not familiar with.

    Japanese are very good at entering Kanji on their traditional Key-pad phones. The typical keyboard interface we think of as ideal is not necessarily so when it comes to writing in Japanese. I have no idea how Apple's Japanese character interface will work, but it better be good and intuitive to Japanese, or they'll never use this thing. Period.

    Softbank is the smallest company with the worst network and the least features. They make a point of marketing to foreigners living Japan, partially because they have trouble with the mainstream Japanese market.

    The number of convenience features offered by the other big carriers, especially DoCoMo, simply dwarf what Softbank can do with their phones at this point. Many Tokyoites have become acustomed to lifestyles which incorporate these convenience features, such as Suica (like a debit-card built into your phone) and 1Seg.

    Finally, the safari web-browser won't be as big of a draw in Japan. Most Japanese web sites have special mobile versions, and the Japanese access the web using their phones more often than they do using computers. They seem satisfied with the current state of mobile web browsing.

  1. mgpalma

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What will be REALLY interesting is seeing just how many people actually buy the phone despite negative polling/surveys. I bet it will surprise them.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Here's an idea

    How about we cut the speculation poo and just wait for the launch. Oh wait, I forgot. This is MacNN- EVERY theory or half-baked study is newsworthy.

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