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Apple Help In Japan
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Mac In Japan 2009
by RL Seltman one more aging Mac Fan in Japan

We have the iPhone, that is to say it exists here in Japan, I just haven't had the incentive to make the transition from Docomo (Japan's mobile branch of the powerhouse NTT, Nihon's equivalent to ATT) to Softmap. Like in the US, and unlike several other Asian markets, Japan's iPhone is decidedly not unlocked and certainly not cheap.

Friend's who own this sleek new wonder, mostly in the foreign community or MacFan boy category, often demonstrate its prowess every chance they get. And for ending an argument at the bar (with rapid finger web access to trival fact and figures) or for finding new and provocative uses in the classroom, the iPhone is awesome. Of course, as the Japanese are keen to point out, there have been cheaper and in some aspects better mobile solutions here for years. But still, the iPhone is a stylistic ploy for impressing girls or seducing 'Otaku' (the nerdy Manga/anime lovers who frequent the 'Maid Cafe' of Akihabara).

As the iPhone continues to progress, i.e. improved camera quality and eventually video, the audience will expand. One can not underestimate the significance of the camera 'keitai' on Japanese mobile phone culture. But one can only assume Steve Jobs has bigger fish to fry in other Asian markets, notably China. We shall see if he can carve out an elitist clientele of official Apple users before clones overrun the Chinese market. There is, of course, a ready supply of bootleg and unlocked look-alike models on the market but still far under the mass market radar to be an immediate threat to Apple.

While I have your attention, I would like to make one gripe before closing down for the season. I wish AppleTV (and iTunes Store) had a contract for movies here in Japan. Where is there a more cinema starved market than those of us living overseas from Hollywood and Pixar, and what a better potential costumer... yet, due to that endless haircloth dilemma of copy protection and market seperation, we like the Canadians remain just out of reach.

Why must honest consumers be forced to steal (by-pass web blocks, download via torrents, use dubious online services) when we are capable and willing to pay? Be brave Apple and cut us a deal, better yet, get rid of the whole damn system and create one world market on the internet.