Steve Jobs and friends are rumored to be fishing for a deal in one of the most competitive and dynamic mobile markets in the world: Japan. Word has spread that Apple
For the iPhone, today is all about the U.S., but tomorrow is about the world. While exclusive U.S. seller AT&T
Japan is just one of dozens of markets Apple hopes to enter, but launching there will set an important milestone for the iPhone. Mobile devices are hugely popular in Japan, woven tightly into its culture, and a phone's style and applications will make or break a product. Operators such as Deutsche Telekom's
The gadget-crazed population makes a tough market for foreign device makers. While Nokia
Two things are certain: First, the iPhone will have far more competition in Japan than it did in the U.S. Second, Apple will have to tailor the iPhone for the Japanese market. Japanese carriers will likely demand significant improvements -- foremost being a high-speed, 3G version of the phone -- as it would be an embarrassment to offer an older generation of technology there.
As such, Apple's iPhone designers will have to bring their A-game to succeed in Japan, and even then, it's not certain that the device will be a hit. But if Apple can capture even a sliver of the market, it will once again do what many others have failed to accomplish.
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