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The end of the walled garden mobile portal by a Japanese carrier?!

Shocking and confusing title isn’t it? Let me explain.

With the last month’s release of iPhone 3G by Japanese carrier Softbank Mobile, Softbank created a brand new mobile portal for the Japanese iPhone users. Savvy Japanese culture geeks should already know the name or the brand of this portal.

It’s the Yahoo! Japan mobile portal for the iPhone .

Yahoo! as a consumer brand is majority owned by Softbank conglomerate in Japan. Since 2006 Softbank entered the mobile service arena in Japan, Softbank had been building up mobile service under the Yahoo! Japan brand. The company had gone as far as providing a “Yahoo! button” on the handsets by different manufacturers.

The Yahoo! Japan mobile portal is interesting for the following reasons:

  • It’s open access. That means anyone (as long as you can read Japanese) can type in http://ipn.yahoo.co.jp and access the content and services.
  • That includes Softbank’s competitor’s customers (DoCoMo, KDDI subscribers) can access the content as long as their mobile browser supports WebKit like features.
  • Of course, the big gotcha is that you can only get the iPhone from Softbank in Japan.
  • The site is deep and content rich. I am sock at both the depth and the breath of the content. No doubt you can still find certain deep linked content goes back to a regular “full Web” version of Yahoo! content, but over all, there are levels and levels of content design specifically (or reposition) for the iPhone.
  • Lack of advertising on the iPhone Yahoo! Softbank portal.

I am still trying to digest what this means for the Japanese mobile market. The outside pundits always praise how great the Japanese mobile ecosystem is or how advanced Japanese handset ares. But if you have done some research, you’ll find that really doesn’t mean a lot in a market that is pretty much completely saturated – and most Japanese would carry 2 phones (one for work and one for personal use). Again… I am interested to see how iPhone will (or will not) change the Japanese mobile market.

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Designer. Xooglers. Photography, iPhone, and Outdoor / EDC Tactical Gears enthusiast.