June 23, 2008

Softbank announces Japan prices for iPhone


Tokyo-based Softbank Corp., Japan's No. 3 mobile phone company, said people will get a discount in their mobile phone bills that will calculate to their paying 23,040 yen for Apple Inc.'s iPhone over two years.

TOKYO (AP) -- Softbank, the carrier that won the coveted right to sell the iPhone in Japan, said Monday it will sell for 23,040 yen -- comparable to the marked down U.S. price for the hit gadget.

Japan will be among the overseas nations awaiting the global rollout of a new version of the iPhone promised for July 11. That will mark the iPhone's debut in this nation reputed as loving gadgets, including Apple products such as the iPod portable digital-music player.

Tokyo-based Softbank Corp., Japan's No. 3 mobile phone company, said people will get a discount in their mobile phone bills that will calculate to their paying 23,040 yen for Apple Inc.'s iPhone over two years.

Whether the announced price will be seen as a discount by Japanese gadget fans is still unclear.

For years, some mobile phones were practically given away for free as carriers were eager to win market share and earn revenue through phone fees.

But recently, as the market here saturates, mobile phones have gone up in price, and the more sophisticated ones can cost about 50,000 yen. Cheaper models are still also available.

Softbank spokesman Daisuke Muranaga said the iPhone Japan price was comparable to other high-end mobile phones at the carrier.

Apple has given the U.S. price at US$199 for the 8-gigabyte iPhone and US$299 for the 16-gigabyte version. Analysts say that compares favorably to rival products.

In Japan, the 16-gigabyte version will cost 34,560 yen, although consumers won't be buying the phone outright but with the payment being combined with discounts for the fees.

Apple says it has sold about 6 million iPhones so far this year, and has a goal of selling 10 million.

The new iPhone is going on sale in more than 20 countries, including Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Hong Kong.

Softbank has been on aggressive push to gain market share from rivals NTT DoCoMo and KDDI Corp. by slashing prices and airing catchy ads as those starring Cameron Diaz. Signing with Apple on the iPhone is a major coup for Softbank.

Japan has long had high-speed Internet-connecting mobile phones, which give restaurant searches, e-mail, electronic shopping, novel and comic book downloads and other services.

Nearly all Japanese mobile phones come with digital cameras, which can also take short video clips. The latest ones also have digital TV broadcast reception, which the iPhone will not have.

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