Konichiwa, iPhone

Published on December 18, 2007
by John Paczkowski

konichiwaiphone.jpgThey say you need to know about 2,000 different kanji pictograms in order to read a Japanese newspaper. So how the hell is Apple going to adapt the iPhone’s virtual keyboard for modern Japanese?

We’ll have the answer soon enough. “People familiar with the situation” tell The Wall Street Journal that Apple is in talks with NTT DoCoMo and Softbank–two of Japan’s premier wireless carriers–about offering its iPhone in Japan.

Discussions, however, are not going well. Both carriers have balked at Apple’s terms, which include a subscriber revenue share that some estimates put at about 10%. “The negotiations are not going smoothly, as Apple’s conditions are extremely hard to meet,” one source told Reuters. “The ball is in Apple’s court right now.”

But likely not for long. In order to meet its goal of gaining a 1% share of the global cellphone business by the end of 2008, Apple must bring the iPhone to market in Japan. Nomura Research Institute estimates that Apple can sell 2 million to 3 million iPhones annually in Japan–about 5% of the market–if it plays its cards right.

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