In a country where smartphone use is lagging, a 1,000 iPhone handset corporate contract is exciting news.

Let’s see if this idea spills over other Japanese companies.

Japan’s Softbank Mobile has signed its first major corporate contract for the iPhone 3G.

The deal, with management and technology consultancy BearingPoint, will see 1,000 of the phones put into the hands of the company’s analysts and workers across the country, the two companies said on Monday.

BearingPoint said it is adopting the iPhone with the aim of improving the productivity of its consultants and helping them access information more easily.

via PC World – IPhone Gets First Major Corporate Customer in Japan.

Following on the apparent sluggish sales, here’s one comment on the iPhone “demise”. The author points to the lack of emoji. I would also add another important factor, albeit to a lesser extent: a Yahoo! Keitai-type of web for the oh-so-many services not available for iPhone users.

Yes, emoji, and emoji alone. It’s missing a FeliCa RFID smart card, but most people use them embedded in credit cards, not phones; everyone talks about wanting One Seg but most people don’t actually watch television on their mobiles; there’s no QR code scanner but there’s a free App Store program to download for that; SD memory cards are popular add-ons, but the iPhone has lots of built-in storage; there’s no place to hang a strap, but an after-market slipcase can be decorated instead; there’s no emoji, yet having a lot of text emoticons and smilies in the dictionary does not paper over the chasm.

†┏┛墓┗┓† ←iPhone R.I.P. » 世論 What Japan Thinks.

It’s too soon to say if the iPhone is really a failure in Japan. The market for high-end handsets is shaking worldwide and the Japanese market will adapt in one way of another.

At the moment, it seems some people are buying the Apple phone while keeping their old handset at the same time. We’ll see if this pattern continues, especially with the possible introduction of emojiin the next firmware update.

Softbank stays ahead in subscribers’ growth, 17 months in a row. While the real iPhone impact is unknown, its introduction since July has certainly helped the japanese carrier.

Tokyo, Oct 7, 2008 Jiji Press – Softbank Mobile Corp. remained in the top spot in net mobile phone subscription growth for the third straight half year in April-September, industry data showed Tuesday.

The unit of Internet and telecommunications conglomerate Softbank Corp. <9984> registered a net subscription number increase of 1,047,000, with its low basic monthly fees continuing to appeal to customers, the Telecommunications Carriers Association said.

Softbanks new handsets launches for the summer shopping season, including Sharp Corp.s <6753> Aquos series, and the craze of Apple Inc.s iPhone at the time of its debut in Japan in July also contributed to Softbanks growth.

NTT DoCoMo Inc. <9437> ranked second with net growth of 549,300, followed by EMobile Ltd. which logged a net rise of 400,200.

KDDI Corp. <9433>, the provider of the “au” service, was bottom, with a net increase of 112,600.

For September alone, Softbank retained its top position for the 17th consecutive month, logging net growth of 142,800. NTT DoCoMo was in second place with a net rise of 129,700, followed by KDDI with 74,900 and EMobile with 59,300, the association said.

Softbank Stays Top in Mobile Subscription Growth for 3rd Half Year.

According to MacRumors, the latest iPhone 2.2 firmware, just seeded to developpers, contains 461 emoji characters.

It is unclear if these will be made available on this firmware release or for a following one. It is also yet unknown if Softbank participated in the creation process, allowing the iPhone not only to send, but also receive emoji from other Japanese carriers on the i.softbank.jp e-mail address.

Currently, sending emoji through the iPhone is only possible through a webapp.