Apple’s misjudgment of the Japanese market

[日本語]


The reasons why Apple could not sell iPhones in Japan became a controversial topic in America. In fact, I don’t know how many times I heard business people say that breaking into the Japanese market is like a labyrinth. GAP, Footlocker and Facebook were some of the symbolic failures and now the iPhone is facing the same destiny. Why is the iPhone having such a hard time in Japan?

Listed below are some of the key factors:

  1. Too bulky: Japanese love small and slim gadgets!
  2. Japanese cell-phone technology is about 5 years more advanced, meaning iPhone is nothing special. For example, the iPhone lacks a video camera feature.
  3. Monthly rate is too high because the iPhone uses a different communication standard. (Attention: Feb. 2009 iPhone decided to reduce monthly price.)
  4. Very hard to type Japanese characters on touch-screen because of their original transformation writing system.
  5. Not efficient at all that you need both-hands to use it. According to a survey, Japanese use cell-phones the most in trains so they need to use only one-hand as the trains are so crowded.
  6. Japanese love American culture but do not trust American products. They trust only Japanese products or German products.
  7. iPhones do not look fashionable especially for Japanese women. They love more kawaii (cute) and feminine goods.


In summary: iPhone is cool, but not practical for Japanese!

But let’s get back to the main topic. Here are the applications that Japanese would like to have in their iPhones.

  1. Stop Karoshi (death from overwork) by iPhone sensor!
    Japanese are well known to work until midnight. But it’s time to slow down the pace and enjoy their lives. Bosses would check the degree of tiredness of each employee by iPhone sensor! As soon as the alert goes off, they must let employees take off right away.
  2. Stop suicides by iPhone detection!
    Unfortunately, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. More than 30,000 people commit suicide every year and the number dramatically increased right after the start of the economic crisis. This would detect early warning signs.
  3. Finding capsule and love hotels!
    Japan has a variety of hotels with different purposes from capsule hotels to love hotels with different prices, features and services. Love hotels are used mainly by couples looking for some extra privacy, so in a small cramped country like Japan, this type of business will never go away. If you just touch i-phone then, you would see all suitable hotels including availability and pricing in your vicinity!
  4. Checking Japanese real “yes” meaning!
    If a Japanese answers back “yes” to you, it may mean “yes”, but it sometimes means “no”! If you need to know the real truth, iPhone detection would help to easily understand what they want!

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