Japanese iPhone Line-up
“T.S.” came here the day before yesterday; Butch yesterday morning. Muzatani Yuki, Kurita Yuki, Nagaoka Juichi, and Ishita Takahiro came here six hours ago. All of them are waiting for SoftBank’s doors to open. By noon tomorrow they will be proud owners of the Japanese iPhone.
It was not easy to photograph them. Many are skipping work and don’t want to be caught. But the Japanese and international media is all over the place, interviewing these “iPhone otakus.” So, chances are, they’ll have some explaining to do to their bosses come Monday morning.
I Like Anything with a Battery
“T.S.,” who spoke on condition of anonymity, arrived the day before yesterday. As he explained, he loves Apple and loves “anything with a battery.” He wants to be the first with an iPhone because, he says, “that’s who I am.” He describes himself as a “gajyetto ga suki na hito” (a person who likes gadgets), and he already owns a “Jailbroken” iPhone (but unfortunately he can’t make calls with it). I asked him if he thinks the iPhone will be successful in Japan.
T.S. feels the iPhone lacks two important features that will hinder its success in the Japanese market. First, the iPhone does not have emoji—special, cute little icons (like hearts, tear drops, and “peace” signs) that the Japanese use to spice-up their messages. Second, the iPhone lacks denwa-saifu (ability to be used as an electronic credit card). Regardless, T.S. expects it to be successful among older generations, as “compared to ordinary Japanese cellphones, the iPhone is really easy to use because it only has one button.” His grandmother, an otaku like himself, already said she’d like to test it.
A Cellphone for Superstars
Butch is an actor and he came here yesterday morning. He thinks the iPhone is for “superstars,” and he believes he’ll be one one day.
Butch doesn’t believe the iPhone is going to be a huge success. Compared to other Japanese phones, it is relatively expensive. He’ll miss the credit card, TV, and copy-paste functions of his current phone.
Mac or PC?
Yuki, who works as a system engineer, arrived this morning. He got here early to ensure they would still have his desired model in stock. The main thing he’ll miss is the TV function. His friends Yuki, Juichi, and Takahiro all nodded when he mentioned watching TV on his long train rides to work. “If it had a TV, it’d definitely be more successful,” Yuki explained.
Junichi and Takahiro use both Macs and PCs, while one of the two Yuki’s is a PC user. The second Yuki wants an iPhone because he already owns an iPod, and would like to combine the iPod experience with his cellphone.
Out of the fifteen people I interviewed, all of them cited ease of use and interface as the main reasons why they want an iPhone. Seven were Mac users, four were PC users, and four use both. It’s a given that most of the individuals in line were Mac users, yet the iPod UI seems to have opened the door to PC users as well.
As of writing, there are about 120 people waiting outside the flagship store of SoftBank. Japanese people love to queue-up, so I expect the line to gradually extend by tomorrow. I’ll check back an hour before opening to see how things develop.