Here's a follow-up to my blog post of a couple of weeks back about Softbank + iPhone.
At NTT docomo's AGM yesterday (June 20), shareholders asked why NTT docomo hadn't struck a deal with Apple to offer the iPhone on docomo's network…
My source is the following article from IT Media – http://plusd.itmedia.co.jp/mobile/articles/0806/20/news143.html
I won't translate the entire article – just two snippets:
docomo "is considering" an iPhone launch and sales of Blackberry to individuals
Following Apple's decision to sell iPhone through Softbank Mobile, shareholders asked why docomo broke off negotiations with Apple. Mr. Tsujimura of NTT docomo explained that one of the iPhone's attractive features is the user interface which leverages a touch panel and that NTT docomo had already released handsets with touch panels like "Prada Phone by LG" and "SH906" – "[With the release of these two devices] we feel that we are adequately responding to the market's needs and we wish to increase the number [of models with touch interface]" He said that he couuld not discuss the content of negotiations about the iPhone because of non-disclosure agreements with Apple but said that docomo is closely watching the market and "would like to consider thhe possibility of docomo selling [the iPhone}".
It wouldn't fly in the US, but maybe it will work in Japan — I haven't tried any of the above devices. But I would guess that the SH906 will feel quite "familiar" to Japanese consumers who expect a phone to have a "normal" keyboard. And I'm quite sure that Japanese consumers won't be satisfied with exactly the same user interface that North Americans are using on the Apple iPhone.
Apple also seems to recognize this — Japanese consumers who don't want to type on a QWERTY keyboard will have the option of selecting a virtual keypad that looks like a 12-button phone keypad.
(I culled the above image from a microsoft site – it was the first photo that came up in a Google image search for the iPhone's new language features. How odd).
And here's the second snippet that I want to share with you from the docomo shareholder's AGM:
In addition, regarding RIM's BlackBerry, which NTT docomo currently offers to corporate accounts and which is very popular, particularly in the US, having sold 14 million units worldwide — NTT docomo's Vice President, Mr. Yamada, said : "We are also considering selling [the device] to individuals"
… I have been wondering for such a long time why NTT docomo was restricting the BlackBerry to corporate accounts. It strikes me as pretty weak that docomo should need to suffer the sting of missing out on the iPhone before they think about seriously promoting a device that they've had in their stable since September 2006.