updated 09:25 am EDT, Wed July 2, 2008
iPhone Sought in Japan
Japanese cellphone users are most eager to have the iPhone 3G over any other smartphone in or coming to the market, according to a new study by iShare. The research group says that 57.9 percent of all those responding to a survey said they most wanted the Apple device, which placed well ahead of others despite the study method allowing multiple answers. Second place belonged to the Japan-made Willcom D4 UMPC and phone crossover at 35.8 percent, while the more conventional Willcom 03 was third at 33.1 percent.
Other phones in the top six were from foreign companies and included Emobile's S11HT, known as the AT&T Tilt or HTC TyTN II; the HT1100 or HTC Touch DUAL; and the BlackBerry Bold, the first version of the smartphone capable of running in Japan.
In spite of the stated preference, most of the respondents say that dimensions are more important in their choice of phone than the interface, iShare says. Approximately 68.6 percent chose the weight of a given phone as their top motivating factor, with 38.1 percent picking an overall small size as a similar incentive and 37.2 percent the slimness of the device. Just 11.9 percent cited the touchscreen as a reason to buy a phone, according to results from the multiple-answer question.
The same group also downplays the cost of the phone itself as a factor. About 26.1 percent saw this as a concern while 60.7 percent were more concerned with obtaining a reasonable, flat-rate access fee for the network.
iShare's examination comes just weeks after a poll that suggested most Japanese were uninterested in the iPhone, though this was conducted just before the official announcement of the iPhone for Japanese carrier Softbank and before all of the phone's features and pricing were made public. A similar turnaround occurred with the iPod, which initially faced stiff resistance from Sony's Walkman MiniDisc players but eventually became the dominant media player in Japan.
While the news suggests a turnaround in Japanese perception of the iPhone, the poll is small at 713 respondents and was taken in a country has typically skewed towards advanced non-smartphones from native brands such as Fujitsu, Hitachi and Sharp. Most of these are smaller than the iPhone and have traditional number pads but still feature relatively large screens nearing three inches, and offer mobile TV in addition to music and offline video.