Apple's iPhone: Bust in Japan

The Japanese handset market is already saturated with high-end, competitively priced cellphones.

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Considering they have pioneered the color television, VCRs, a car that runs 100 percent on water, and mini-me robots, it's no surprise that Apple's iPhone is just too prosaic for the Japanese. In fact, the iPhone is such a failure, it's practically being given away.

According to Wired , Japanese carrier SoftBank this week launched the "iPhone for Everybody" campaign: Consumers receive an 8-GB model of the iPhone 3G in exchange for agreeing to a two-year contract.

The iPhone's popularity is undisputed in many parts of the world; Apple sold over 10 million iPhones last year. But after brief dalliance with the latest gadgets, the Japanese generally are on to something else. Not to mention the country's reluctance to adopt Western brands, such as Nokia and Motorola.

There are several reasons that the iPhone is a flop. The Japanese handset market is saturated with high-end phones at competitive prices. Silicon Alley Insider says that models currently sold by Japanese handset makers usually include a high-end color display, satellite navigation service, digital TV-viewing capability, music player, and digital camera.

The iPhone, on the other hand, offers a low-quality camera and barely any video support. Multimedia text-messaging and TV signals aren't available. On top of that, carrier charges are less expensive in Japan than in the United States.

"The pricing has been completely out of whack with market reality," one expert on the Japanese cellphone market told Wired. "I think they [Apple and its partners overseas] are in the process of adjusting to local conditions."

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