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Japan cautious in iPhone's bid for world dominance

60 Comments
By Yuri Kageyama

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I briefly toyed with the thought of getting an Iphone but then I head from someone who got one that there it is mandatory that one gets the monthly unlimited data package...that helped me decide not to get it. I think after a few weeks of it though, I'd get tired of playing with it.

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One of my friends got it, but he is an apple freak anyway and got nearly all their products.

But he will use his mostly for work when he travels overseas, as it allows him to leave the notebook behind.

I think as mentioned that you can't use the phone one-handed for texting will be a major factor for many. And the "no-hole" for straps.

So I see a limited market for it in japan, given that many features that are the norm here are not included.

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many features that are the norm here are not included

Seriously though how many people actually watch 1 seg? I would have thought the video ability of the iPhone to be worth more than 1 seg.

For the keitei straps no doubt some time soon (if not already out there) there will be a case that they can add the straps to.

The only thing that puts me of is Softbank - not going back there thank you very much!

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I know a lot of people(wife included)that use their cels to watch TV.

Like lunch-time at the office to watch Tamori, etc.

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This is news? People have been writing this story over and over for the past 6 months. And one thing nobody seems to mention is the applications available for iphone. They're very powerful. Some of the games are amazing, social networking apps, talking language dictionaries, ebook readers with access to all public domain books such as the complete works of Shakespeare, etc. All available wherever you go, with no need to worry about eating up bandwith. And its only the beginning. Then there is the always-on mail, internet access, GPS, Calender and contact syncing.... I'll take all of this over the ability to text a smiley at the end of my message any day, thanks.

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I use my phone for making phone calls

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| While the iPhone has Bluetooth wireless links, it has no infrared connection.

I mean, DAMN, infrared? I don't think I've ever seen ANYONE use infrared.

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I have an iphone and right now there's something wrong with the mail service... anyone know what's going on with that? how to resolve it?

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I'll probably just get the new ipod touch and keep my Japanese phone.

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Can anyone with an iPhone 3G PLEASE give us more information about the charges? I am thinking to get one, but I'm hearing different things about the charges, that you have to have one thing and can't have another etc.

Please, only those that own the 3G model since last week, give us some idea!

http://www.inyouriphone.com

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"Shockingly alien"

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

"Japan's cloistered mobile system has its own icons for e-mail"

"I don't want my friends to think I'm this uncool, cold-hearted person"

Jesus Christ...

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Whilst I can get over the no-strap issue, it never occurred to me that both hands are required to use the iPhone. This is a major design issue. Do all the other features - as outlined by LpLad - outweigh this issue? I don't know. I was definitely getting one, but might stick with my regular mobile phone and iTouch. As for Apple's kitchen appliances, I'm totally against the iRack. Lol!

(many posters of this site could make use of the English dictionary in iPhone.....or hell, just buy the old fashioned book version. Or just learn to spell).

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sarge

I am with you on this one jesus christ indded.

clearly apple forgot the 12yr old sydrome in jpn, someone in marketing needs to be fired right away!

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GW - I'm sure within 6 months Apple will have a new version with even cuter icons!

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I find it rather sad (and yet amusing at the same time) that so much emphasis is put on those 'cute' animations/icons and straps in Japan.

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picard You don't need both hands for an iPhone. One handed is fine.

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| While the iPhone has Bluetooth wireless links, it has no infrared connection.

This is where Japanese are far behind the rest of the world. When I transfer pictures taken with my mobile to my iPAQ210 Enterprise, most of Japanese are sooo surprised how I do this that makes me surprised they don`t have idea what I do and have no idea they phones have BT too. The best is to stick to old style.

I mean, DAMN, infrared? I don't think I've ever seen ANYONE use infrared.

They do use my friend. They don`t know other ways. See above what I wrote :)

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Most cels in japan can use Infrared and blue-tooth, but blue-tooth is a problem as it leaves you open to outside cyber-attacks.

Whereas infrared is more secure.

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cuteness/coolness > technology

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2020hindsight, I tried a demo on the weekend and found it difficult to access all the icons and mailing using one hand. Maybe just have to get used to it. At the end of the day, however, it's pretty damn cool.

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I have an iPhone and I must say I love it for several reasons. the first is that I can use a cell phone in ENGLISH and am able to access the web anytime, anywhere without trying to track down a free wireless area in Japan which is almost impossible (even at the local libraries) This means no more squinting at my japanese phone while trying to figure out how to access the web. ( and YES it is possible to text with phone with one finger and since it based on the US keyboard, it is a HELL of a lot faster for me)

The second thing I love is the ability to download rented movies and TV shows directly into the phone and watch them anywhere. Who needs TV? you can watch what you want to watch, when you want to watch it. (of course this requires a US credit card and a iTunes account)

The third thing I LOVE is the applications. You can find anything you want almost and use it anywhere. Many do not require internet access so you can use them on the train. I have yet to see a japanese phone do that.

DISLIKES I would have to say the battery life. I solved this problem this by buying an external battery that plugs right in to the bottom of the iphone when my battery gets low. It is a bit expensive at 5630 yen but well worth the price.

Another dislike is that softbank charges for email sent to and from the xxxxx@i.softbank.ne.jp account. To get past this sent up a .me account through apple or use hotmail, gmail ect. and tell all your fiends to email you at that address. Personally I like the apple .me account because I am notified right away when a new message arrives just like using a regular keitai.

The second is applicat

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Some others cringe away from it because of the fact that it's distributed only by Softbank! My wife and me for example. Or would you buy a cellphone from a company that makes cheesy commercials with Cameron Diaz in them?!

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Okay, I did some researching and found this information about the charges for the new iphone 3G in Japan:

http://www.softbankmobile.co.jp/en/news/press/2008/20080623_01/index.html

For any other news, hacks, tricks n tips:

http://www.inyouriphone.com

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I had a play with one the other day and it is very cool, but not the 'be all and end all' of mobile phones. It is astounding that, there are three technologies (MP3 player, phone, PC) packed into one unit, but it still has it's limitations. The feedback I got from the owner was, medium reception for phone use, slow internet connection and two hands needed for most operations. In my opinion, it is only the 'cool factor' that makes this so popular. It has a small hard drive, even the 16GB model will fill very quickly with movies and music and the battery life is short if you are using the video or slideshow modes. I have an iPod to show my friends photos, I have three Mac PCs and I have a very efficient Japanese mobile phone that will do everything the iPhone will do, it's just not as pretty. However, my iPod has 80GB hard drive, which is more than enough, two of my Mac computers are portable and my mobile phone battery lasts for three days between charges and, I can also use it with one hand. The iPhone is a cool toy and if you would be satisfied with the limitations and are sure owning an iPhone will get you sex, then it is the toy for you.

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While Japanese cellphones tend to be better than your average cell phones in other countries, I'm sorry but iPhone has them ALL beat, hands down. There is a xenophobic element to sales, to an extent, and for some that will be the main reason not to buy (this is JAPAN, we don't need foreign phones!), but like all trends in Japan, once the neighbour's got an iPhone, everyone else will want one too.

As to the strap issue, that can be easily remedied, methinks, so teenages can put the giant mass of kitsch on it and be unable to fit it in their bags. Not to worry.

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Rots ob ruck Genkiboy!

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the strap issue is solved. All you need to do is buy a rubber case that protects the iphone. It has a strap slot built into the rubber back

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Sponsored by NTT Docomo...

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Smithinjapan... Thanks for finally mentioning the whole xenophobic point about selling anything in Japan. Had Sony developed the same exact thing we would never hear the end of how superior Japan is, but the truth is, that aside from Toyota, no company in Japan has the cajones to truly take anything to the next level and revolutionize an industry. The whole emoticon and strap issue are ridiculous. And besides are parents seriously buying this phone for high school boys and girls in Japan???

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I managed to get one yesterday... It is a truely amazing piece of gadgetry.. you can keep your silly hole for straps and trinkets...

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Smith, actually you would be surprised how much the emoticons mean to some people. There actually are people who wouldn't buy it because of no emoji. I think if apple did a bit more homework they should have added emoticons and a place for a strap. Hard to believe for some of you, but it would have made a difference. I predict that the next model will have emoticons, place for a strap, video camera , and infrared. Then watch out. Of course the people who buy now will be upset, but ...happens with apple products all the time.

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Hughgarse... How did you get one? Just pop in a store and they had 'em??? I went to Roppongi yesterday, nothing. Then to a local store east of Tokyo and nothing. I'm in no big hurry but I still want one. Is there a secret I don't know about???

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Any chance that any of the other makers will now try to copy what the Iphone has done. I was talking to a student of mine who was about to buy one, but was put off with the high monthly charge, since as mentioned above, you must get the unlimited use package. I just think that SOny and Toshiba and the other makers, will soon have their own touch screens, tp compete with Apple.

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SmithinJapan:

While Japanese cellphones tend to be better than your average cell phones in other countries, I'm sorry but iPhone has them ALL beat, hands down. There is a xenophobic element to sales, to an extent, and for some that will be the main reason not to buy (this is JAPAN, we don't need foreign phones!), but like all trends in Japan, once the neighbour's got an iPhone, everyone else will want one too.

As to the strap issue, that can be easily remedied, methinks, so teenages can put the giant mass of kitsch on it and be unable to fit it in their bags. Not to worry.

Umm, NO on the iPhone has them beat hands down, not by a LONG way! Umm, NO on the Xenophobic reasons for NOT buying an iPhone - in fact, I think that's the most pathetic statement I've ever read in any forum! And Umm, NO on the neighbour's got one so I want one too comment.

Dude, seriously - get a clue!

http://www.inyouriphone.com

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SmithinJapan:

While Japanese cellphones tend to be better than your average cell phones in other countries, I'm sorry but iPhone has them ALL beat, hands down. There is a xenophobic element to sales, to an extent, and for some that will be the main reason not to buy (this is JAPAN, we don't need foreign phones!), but like all trends in Japan, once the neighbour's got an iPhone, everyone else will want one too. As to the strap issue, that can be easily remedied, methinks, so teenages can put the giant mass of kitsch on it and be unable to fit it in their bags. Not to worry.

Umm, NO on the iPhone has them beat hands down, not by a LONG way!

Umm, NO on the Xenophobic reasons for NOT buying an iPhone - in fact, I think that's the most pathetic statement I've ever read in any forum!

And Umm, NO on the neighbour's got one so I want one too comment.

Dude, seriously - get a clue!

http://www.inyouriphone.com

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Hughgarse - It is a truely amazing piece of gadgetry..

Exactly! And that is all it is. It doesn't beat the Palm PCs for functions. It doesn't beat the Japanese mobiles for price, range, network and service. It only has a small hard drive for an MP3 player. But, it's kowaiiiii!!! Hence, gadget only!

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lack of keitai strap solution : drill a hole in the phone :)

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movieguy

Hughgarse... How did you get one? Just pop in a store and they had 'em??? I went to Roppongi yesterday, nothing. Then to a local store east of Tokyo and nothing. I'm in no big hurry but I still want one. Is there a secret I don't know about???

I`ve a friend in Apple that made it happen... cost a bit, but my phone was dying anyway and was going to get one, so said "yeah sure".

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The world's economy is collapsing before our very eyes, and airheads clamor for the latest hi-tech toy. Try eating an iPhone when your stomach is empty. It may be sooner than you think.

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i bought a phone years ago with music capabillity don't need no Ipod and i never understood the need of watching video on a tiny screen.

Next month the firts ones will be lying in a second hand shop and than i will check it out, but i need a hole for my kitty straps!

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The world's economy is collapsing before our very eyes, and airheads clamor for the latest hi-tech toy. Try eating an iPhone when your stomach is empty. It may be sooner than you think.

The sky is falling - the sky is falling. Global warming - global warming. CNN told me so...

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“I don’t want my friends to think I’m this uncool"

What an idiot....

This is exactly what's wrong with Japan...

And just think, there's 40 million more idiots, just like this guy walking around out there...

Still living at home, mom cooks him dinner every night, cleans his room, while he has posters of Xbox and Smap hanging on his walls and a 32 piece collector set of stainless-steel knives in his desk drawer...

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world dominance ? calm down, its just a phone

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Milhaus:

Word.

It is just a phone, but SONY has been left in the dust these days by Apple and other OEM's who have been giving people what they want.

Saru Au:

Funniest post I've seen in a long time. I'll be laughing all day.

As for the sans keitai strap mondai:

I bet one the of iPhone protective case OEM's comes up with a slit in a corner of the plastic/rubber protective cases that you gotta have. Then everyone would be happy.

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"Also missing from Steve Jobs’ much-praised design: a hole in the handset for hanging trinkets."

I have to admit, this is my biggest complaint about he iPhone and I'm an American. I love having my Yusuke and Kurama cell phone straps on my phone. Perhaps with the covers you can manage one in. I still have yet to go look at one but I will this week. the other is the weight nad size. Compared to Japanese phones which I have rented they are lighter.

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I want one - and as a Softbank subscriber since the J-Phone days, the way Masayoshi Son has turned the unit around since Borderphone's disasterous expedition in Japan is inspiring.

All the anti-softbankers, who do you like then, Docomo???

I get the thing with the features - Yes the iPhone has a great screen that you can play recorded, converted, and transfered videos on - but most good Japanese mobiles can receive digital tv straight off, and people do use it on long commutes, or to watch sports while working late.

Also, sha-mails (texts with photo attachments) are huge in Japan, that and emoticons are the basic way people mail each other - lack of texting shows the Amero-centrism of the handset, the only market where texting has never caught on. Fair enough for America, but stupid for the rest of the world, for a feature that shouldn't have been that hard to include.

The camera is a bit lame too - most mobiles now have cameras that are basically full spec digital cameras, and shoot good video too. The camera on the iPhone is 8 years out of date by spec.

The appeal for me is the ease of internet connection, the nice screen, and the music player capability - most Japanese phones have MP3 players but require conversion of all files through copyright protection software that is simply too much of a pain to use. I guess we can choose now between a Japanese phone/tv/text/camera, or an American phone/internet/PDA/mp3 player. I think I will get one of these, but it will be nice when someone offers the complete package - the Koreans seem to be doing the best job of that at the moment. It will be interesting to see what Japanese handset makers, Sharp in particular, do to respond.

Peace

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My friend got one when it came out, and he's already brought it back. he said the reception was awful (though that probably has more to do with the fact that he's with AT&T rather than it being a problem with the phone itself) also, the battery life isn't so great. He's a journalism major, so having video recording capabilities (catching stories when they happen) is very critical for him. I'm assuming that the iphones released in america are the same as the ones released in japan, and if they are, I think not having basic things like voice recording, video recording, and the ability to send multimedia messages (something my 2003 samung phone could do) makes the iphone not worth buying. (That and no phone could make me go back to AT&T.) I'll wait until next year when the third model comes out.

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this iPhone 2.0 is a huge upgrade and you now have 500 (mostly pay under iTunes) applications/ganes tto put on it. There are also ~2000 web aps to use under Safari. If you have the old iPhone you need to update software to 2.0 to run the new applications.

Must have wifi or Bluetooth link to download softs.

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Apple's moving for more dominance among tech savvy consumer market via iPhone gadjets.

Apple and USA gadjets makers, leading in innovations in IT communications tech sector and making apples shares worth more.

2000s pops and drops, run,may be IT tech gadjets based, in sections of global consumers ,especially in richer nations.

Some fast money is moving towards apple's iPhone. Way to go.

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Oh....well.... how about that great support for ringtones...on every single Japanese model phone, including softbank, docomo, au...etc...

If you don't own a Windows computer or download all of your ringtones / music through your phones web interface you're basically screwed...

I don't have an I-Phone yet, but this would be the one big selling point for me... having owned a slew of docomo's, au's & j-phones, I think it's safe to say that one can actually use I-Tunes ON A MAC machine to get music....

Unlike the last Foreign model (Nokia) from Softbank where they guaranteed, uses I-Tunes....

Only later to find out... You must have a fricken Windows machine which runs I-Tunes....(NOT MAC...Windows ONLY) Who would have guessed....

I'm sure not many people on this post even use Mac, much less the open source standard Linux... It's just as well a bunch of novices..

enjoy your your new toy...don't try to understand why...just go about your ignorant bliss...

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Its funny no one has pointed this out yet... 1:) Everyone agrees that Japanese mobile phones are superior in function and usability (I think everyone here has pointed out more or less all the minus points), so in comparison to the handsets available nowdays the trading-in for an Iphone is actually a downgrade.

2:) It is expensive compared to nearly every subsidized phone on the Japanese market regardless of the carrier. Sets that are 30,000yen plus in the beginning get knocked down to less than 1/4th of that in about a couple of months or so , after debut. The way Apple inc., does business i do not foresee a drop in price in any future, be it near or far.

3:) Operating cost is very expensive. Softbank ties you in for a 2-year contract making you pay 8,240/m for the 8G and 8,720/m for the 16G. This is excluding 3 other options you must have and content fees.

4:) I admit after playing with a working display for about 30 minutesI was impressed with the interface and application usability but, that was it the was nothing else more extraordinary about it. Size was too big for someone who mails on trains, busses etc., and the keyboard is not efficient. There is a lack of that instant response needed for fast texting and even with a software upgrade it still doesn't amount to the confidence gained in using a real keypad. I know because the foremost experts on this talent.. 'the kokosei'..also avoided the MotoRAZR because of its too slick keypad.

5:) Anyone who has been living in Japane long enough knows this for a fact that the Japanese love to lineup in front of shops, so much so that when they see an impressive line they will just line up without even confirming what the line is for. So, whatever we saw before the debut of the iphone in Japan was just something very normal for the Japanese. Lines in the rest of the world can be attributed to the fact that no one apart from South Koreans, have mobile phones as advanced as they have here so naturally everyone was expected to line up as they did for the shiny new iphone. This reminds me of one more point for comparison. The Japanese culture is not and does not promote the showing off of one's possessions. Whereas the rest of the world thrives on the idea and is indirectly also attributes to the committing of some percentage of crime. Hence the reason why everyone lined up for the Big, Bright and shiny iphone. In comparison docomo in Japan had released a micro sized keitai by sony (if I remember correctly), and if I am not wrong it is still one of the best selling handsets. Docomo already has experience trying to market a large formfactor handset (the motorola M1000) and I don't think it was a good one. For the readers who have been patient and are not particularly going head over heels for the iphone, there is still hope. Google is working on a new software platform called Android, for mobile phones and from what I can judge it seems to be more promising than the iphone.

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Myself don't see a need to upgrade.

My current Softbank handset has 3G, MP3, TV, good camera(Pic and Video), GPS, infrared, bluetooth, etc. And whoever said they are struggling with a japanese interface hasn't found the setting to switch to english(don't work on PHS). ;)

Not saying the IPhone is rubbish, just not worth it for me to learn a new interface, etc.

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Forgot to add world-roaming.

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I just won't pay that much for monthly fees. I see not incentive to switch and I am a Mac fan and user.

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iphone's bluetooth is for audio streaming only. not file transfers!! What? how bad is that!

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You can easily make to your own ringtones for your iPhone (for free) or pay Apple $2.

You can buy apps or make your own with the Apple SDK.

The choice is yours.

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I would guess it could be done without the sdk.

Just need to be tech-savvy.

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(sad)Mac truth: I have an iMac 20" and haven't used it for a month since I have the iPhone. Now I want the iPhone 2.0 soft upgrade (iPhone must update thru computer). Can't do it since the wifi security page won't come up under Firefox or Safari on my iMac. This Wifi access point actually works fine on the iPhone though. This is not a home wifi,but on the road wifi access. I don't run WinXp on my Mac either, but that would fix the problem. =games on my iPhone must wait another day.

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All the anti-softbankers, who do you like then, Docomo???

AU - the reception is far superior than 3G. Someone was trying to demo me their iPhone and no reception in the middle of Tokyo...

If I had an iPhone then people could actually reach me - quite often I leave my phone behind but my nano goes with me everywhere!

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proud Apple i say i dont need u

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