Apple Readies iPhone For Japanese Market

Apple has reportedly talked with both Japanese mobile carriers about iPhone, but they have initially balked at Apple's demands for the share of subscriber revenue, according to Reuters. Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, met with DoCoMo President Masao Nakamura in San Francisco earlier this month, but the negotiations have not beared fruit as "Apple's conditions are hard to meet," a DoCoMo source told Reuters.

Apple's talks with Softbank, which bought Vodafone's local unit in 2006, could be a ploy to secure a favorable deal with DoCoMo, another source said. DoCoMo owns over half of Japan's mobile market.

Japan already has some of the fastest networks and the most advanced mobile devices in the world, with a population of avid mobile device users, said Daniel Longfield, senior industry analyst for wireless markets with Palo Alto, Calif.-based Frost and Sullivan. If the Apple phone appears in Japan, "you're going to see if iPhone can perform at maximum capacity to deliver enhanced services and high download speeds," Longfield said. "Until now, iPhone with ATandT is like a Ferrari that runs on diesel."

Apple's iPhone, with ATandT as its carrier in the U.S., uses GSM (Global System for Mobile communications)-based networking technology, Longfield said. In contrast, DoCoMo uses a faster, proprietary HSDPA/UMTS technology (High Speed Downlink Packet Access/Universal Mobile Telephone System) for its network.

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Apple said recently it will introduce a 3G iPhone which could conceivably operate at the faster speeds offered by DoCoMo. "If it is true that iPhone will be introduced in Japan, it will be put through its paces," Longfield added. "People in Japan already have advanced services on their mobile devices."

Apple's recent declaration that a next-generation iPhone is planned for next year has drawn the attention of Nokia, the world leader in the cellular market, and which along with Research In Motion, or RIM, sells mobile devices in Japan.

Nokia's CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said his company has been working on a developing a next-generation smartphone and that he is aware but not concerned about Apple's and Google's announced plans for smartphone development.

"It's very clear that Apple, Google, and other players are bringing in a lot of new directions," Kallasvuo said. "Convergence is a nice, dandy word, but it means industries colliding."