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In Japan, Cellphones Are Too Complicated but the iPhone Is Too Simple

Illustration for article titled In Japan, Cellphones Are Too Complicated but the iPhone Is Too Simple

Interesting fact about the laundry list of magical powers bestowed to Japanese cellphones-it makes 'em really hard for mere mortals to use. In this Wired article, Nobi Hayashi (who's like Japan's Pogue) estimates people use less than 5 to 10 percent of their handsets' functions-his Panasonic P905i has a 3-inch TV, 3G, GPS and motion-controlled, Wii-style games, which he shows off to amaze Americans, but in truth most of it doesn't work that great (motion controls are slow, TV cuts out). Complicated menus bury cool functions that you have to dig for like an archaeologist. So the easy-to-use but fairly feature-full iPhone seems like it'd go over well right? Eh, maybe.

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Hayashi says that, lacking a more serious camera and stuff like a mobile wallet (actually useful) and LED flashlight, "It may sell modestly as a smart phone or as an upgraded iPod, but it's not quite cutting it as a competitor in our mobile-based culture."

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In other words, it needs more features, even though that would result in the kind of feature overload Jobs loathes. And a survey by Japan Railways says that while half of those polled were interested in buying an iPhone, less than a fifth really knew what it is. The Apple brand at work-which might the best thing going for it over there. [Wired]

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DISCUSSION

I'd like to see how the iPhone does in Japan. Being from Japan, I know how cellphones are light years ahead of us (that is, U.S.).

Being able to do everything from riding trains and subways, buying food at the convenience store, planning travel from point A to point B with a minute-by-minute itinerary (using buses, trains, and planes), are all too cool. 'Course a lot of those functions are only meaningful in a society like Japan where there is abundant good quality public transportation systems that run according to schedule.

With that said; people said the same thing about the iPod — "It will never sell in Japan, they are too big, and Sony has too firm of a hold on the market".

Look where they're at now ;-) (although I guess the iPod didn't REALLY take off in Japan till the mini/nano —- hey, is that why we're hearing these rumors of a smaller iPhone?? ;-)