Softbank has announced that it will be selling a TV-Tuner card add-on for iPhone 3G later this year to address a widely-publicized feature omission for iPhone users in Japan.
The add-on TV-Tuner card will also serve as an extended battery pack for the iPhone.
There have been reports that though Apple’s iPhone 3G has been a runaway success in the US and other parts of the world which is evident from the record breaking 6.9 million iPhones sold last quarter, its not doing too well in Japan.
This has been attributed to lack of features that are familiar with Japanese customers such as ability to watch live TV, Emoji icons (Japanese name for the picture characters or emoticons used in messages) etc.
iPhone firmware 2.2 beta 1 that has been seeded to iPhone developers has already revealed that Apple is planning to include support for Japanese Emoji icons in iPhone firmware 2.2.
By selling a TV-Tuner card add-on, Softbank is trying to address another widely-publicized feature omission for iPhone users in Japan.
The add-on card is expected to retail for $100. It will include an internal Wi-Fi module and an external antenna for tuning into 1seg mobile broadcasting service available in Japan. The add-on card, which will also serve as an extended battery pack, will stream live television to the iPhone over Wi-Fi through an iPhone-app that will be available for free on the App Store.
The TV-Tuner card add-on is expected to be slightly more compact than the iPhone but a bit thicker and lighter at about 2.8 ounces and measures approximately 2.0 x 3.5 x 0.6 inches.
Softbank and Apple are hoping that addressing these two feature omissions will help boost iPhone 3G sales. However, it remains to be seen if iPhone users in Japan would like to carry another device with the iPhone.
Apple might want to also consider bringing flash to the iPhone as Business Week had reported in August that users in Japan were complaining that the iPhone is incompatible with the features of many Japanese Web sites because it lacks Adobe’s Flash animation software.
You might remember that Paul Betlem, Sr. Director of Engineering at Adobe Systems, had confirmed that Adobe was indeed developing a Flash Player for the iPhone but had noted that it depended on Apple’s approval.[via Apple Insider]
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