During their two hours special event by Softbank Mobile, Masayoshi Son [pronounced: song], the head of the Japanese iPhone operator has announced the iPhone users in Japan will soon be able to watch TVs on their iPhone.
Mr.Son said for iPhone to succeed in Japan, there are three things that needed to be fixed.
First is the battery length. Second is TV capabilities and third is Emoji, the non-standard cartoonish characters used on Japanese phones many people use to decorate their e-mails.
And to fulfill this gap, Softbank Mobile has developed a self-branded original peripherals that is specifically designed for iPhone, the phone Mr. Son loves to his heart; every time, he makes public appearance, he spends at least five minutes talking how he loves his iPhone and how he stopped using laptops.
The device simply dubbed "TV & Battery" is an 80 gram black device that would accompany your iPhone. If the user connects the device with iPhone, it will start charging your iPhone.
On the back of the device, there is an antenna. If you pull it out then it will start streaming the Japanese ISDB-T (One Segment) television over WiFi. Softbank will soon be releasing a free application on AppStore. When the user launches this app, iPhone will automatically make an AdHoc connection to "TV & Battery" and start displaying the TV on iPhone screen; it is as simple as that.
Emoji will also come to iPhone. Mr. Son didn't explain the detail but he said emoji will come to Japanese iPhone later this year; and we all know it means iPhone 2.2 will be released before the year end.
In separate announcement, Softbank Mobile has also announced they will be opening up their subscription based public Wifi service called "BB Mobile" to all iPhone users for free. The Japanese iPhone users can use their i.softbank.jp e-mail address/password to login to BB Mobile Wifi service.
When they launch this service on Nov. 4, people have to launch Safari Web browser every time they want to use the service but after December, Softbank will change the set up of BB Mobile service, so people would only have to login once after December to do the tedious id/password typing after that the Cookie saved on iPhone will handle the login process automatically.
Many people are excited to hear this but some technically oriented blogger expects Softbank will use the MAC address login method which has Livedoor Wireless (BB Mobile's competitor) has been trying; if they did, the user won't need to launch Safari at all.
Masayoshi Son has also announced some upcoming games for the iPhone including Crystal Defender by Square Enix, G RACER, Toaru kishidan to Maboroshi no Oshiro by HUDSON, Unotan by BBSS and Daijirin dictionary by Monokakido.
In yet other announcement, Softbank Mobile has started Softbank Mobile Gift service; a service designed to send gifts without knowing the recipients physical address.
The sender will basically send a e-mail with special barcode; so if the recipient bring that phone to one of local Seven Eleven stores in Japan, they can receive the item they received by showing that special barcode.
During the two hour special event, Masayoshi Son has announced four new touch screen phones: Samsung's Omnia and htc's touch Pro and touch Diamond and Sharp's latest phone made exclusively for Softbank.
All these phones can sport Yahoo! Widgets. As a matter of fact, Softbank Mobile will be hosting a Softbank Phone widgets contest. They also announced they made partnership with five major 'Internet partners' which would make widgets for them. The partners include MySpace Japan, Yahoo! Japan, mixi, DeNA and Niwango.
They have also announced 12 non-touch screen phones (with lots of color variations) including Nokia N82 and E71 and a phone manufactured by Casio. Casio is known as a manufacturer with highest user satisfaction rate but until now they have been manufacturing their phones exclusively for KDDI (au). In Japan, it is such a ground breaking news that they have finally started making phones for other operators.
Also for those living outside Japan, but visit Japan often, SoftBank 730SC might be of interest. It is a pre-paid phone without any monthly fee (or with 300 yen/mo, you will get unlimited e-mail).
I know very soon, Apple will be working with 80 phone operators around the world, but I believe Masayoshi Son or Softbank Mobile is doing a great job giving the right feedback about what's needed for this market, etc. to make iPhone look even better in this market; if Apple had worked with the other operators in Japan, they wouldn't have treated iPhones this good and they would have never made any suggestions at all.
However, I think Softbank could have waited a bit longer for these great announcements for iPhones because I think the lack of stability of iPhone is something an average Japanese users won't be able to stand (and it could cause serious bad reputation).
Right now most of the iPhone users in Japan are tech-savvy and they know how unstable smart phones are and can handle their own problem. And those tech-savvy people have already bought external batteries for their iPhone plus most of them don't watch TVs (especially on phones). They wouldn't use emoji, either instead they are used to writing what is called kaomoji using ascii characters (e.g. (^_^) ).
With this intro of Softbank branded external batteries and TV tuner, Softbank is seriously looking into average phone users in Japan which can be a difficult market unless Apple does an really really good job to make the iPhone OS rock solid. We shall see.