After only a week on sale in Japan, DoCoMo has temporarily halted sales of the Blackberry Bold. Reporting sales of 4,000 units so far (I personally think that DoCoMo inflates their unit sales figures by a factor of 2) it seems that several users have complained about excessive heat coming from the keyboard.
The Japanese version of the Bold does appear to have some small physical differences to other 9000’s including the Japanese keyboard (Same number of keys, just different markings on the keys) and a quad band 3G modem instead of the previous tri-band. This is a pretty bad hit for RIM in Japan. I would expect sales to resume soon unless a major defect is discovered, but I doubt this will do anything to improve the market penetration for Blackberry.

Impress Keitai Watch: ドコモ、BlackBerry Boldに発熱の不具合で一時販売停止

Katana Asiajin has recently posted a review of two Japanese sword apps, Katana Japanese Sword by Hanatsuki Inc.[J] (iTunes, free) and KATANA by Appliya Inc (iTunes, 230yen).

Both applications are very simple and involve swinging your iPhone (or iPod Touch) through the air in various slashing motions thereby maiming or killing imaginary enemies. Graphics are almost non-existent, as it’s quite difficult to look at your screen while ducking and swinging, isn’t it. Background audio accompanies both applications and of course, there are some nice sound effects of sword hitting sword, and flesh. To be honest, the apps are quite pointless, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the action. They really gave me a good work-out.

Click here to read the rest of the review.

iPhoning Japan is always looking for iPhone-in-japan related stories. If you have written one or know of one that might be of interest to the Japan-based iPhone community drop us a line at hello[atmark]iphoningjapan.com

It’s all over the web already, but in case you didn’t see it Softbank have announced they are going to offering 8GB iPhones for 0 yen (around $100 for a 16GB) for purchases between 27 Feb. and 31 May.

Not only that, but they are cutting their flat rate pricing from around $60 to $45 a month. (Existing subscribers have to apply for this discount from 1 Apr. to 31 May).

iphone_everyone

Softbank have today announced new price plans for the iPhone 3G.

iPhone for Everybody is due to come into effect on the 1st March 2009, meaning that you can now pick up an 8GB iPhone for 0 (yep, zero) yen, or a 16GB model for just 480 yen per month.

As is always the case, you’ll need to sign up for a 2-year Softbank contract – but there’s good news here too as they have simultaneously announced a reduction in the cost of their monthly unlimited data plan, down from 5,585 to 4,410 yen. You can also sign up for a cheaper pay-per-packet type data plan, but with a new series of American Idol having recently started you’ll be bound to blow the upper limit in any case.

If you don’t already have an iPhone, now is definitely the time to get one. If you do already have one, now is definitely the time to get one for your wife.

People who enjoy reading kanji-heavy iPhone-related PDF press releases can indulge themselves here.

auKDDI have just announced that emails sent from AU handsets to @i.softbank.jp email addresses will now be automatically formatted so as to be readable by iPhones.

For those of us that don’t use the Softbank mail address (preferring, say, Gmail or Yahoo instead) this doesn’t apply – we still need to visit Gmail / Yahoo in Mobile Safari to figure out what cute pictures all the crosses were supposed to be.

gengoufreeSome of the best apps on the iPhone are the simple ones – and Gengou Free [iTunes] is a perfect example of this.

It only does one thing – converts the non-Japanese calendar year into the Japanese calendar year.

Whilst it’s not the kind of app that you’ll use everyday, there are times when it’s indispensable, such as filling in forms at your local ward office or trying to remember your date of birth when being stopped by police for owning a bicycle.

It is very iPhonesque, oozing sex appeal thanks to the rolling dials that you flick your finger across to change the year you’d like to convert.

There is also a paid version of Gengou [iTunes], although I’d suggest that the free version without bells and whistles does the job just fine.

aratanisuAs reported by Black Tokyo earlier today, three major Japanese newspapers have teamed up to create an iPhone / iPod touch app featuring the latest news from Japan.

The app, あらたにす (Allatanys) [iTunes, free, Japanese only] allows users to access the headlines, editorials and business sections of the Nikkei, Asahi, and Yomiuri newspapers, as seen at http://allatanys.jp/, a site created by the big three in November 2007 to in response to changes in people’s reading habits.

The app also features a photo tab – click on any image to be taken to the accompanying story.

Having downloaded the app, it’s clear that it’s been made in  strict accordance with Japanese website design guidelines, in that, it’s a bit of a mess.

It’s unfortunate that it’s completely lacking in iPhone sexiness, and were it not for the menu bar at the bottom of the screen one could be mistaken for assuming it was just a standard Japanese website being viewed in mobile Safari.

As other users have commented, the characters are too small to read, and should you choose to view the whole story (by clicking on it), a warning message is thrown up asking you if it’s OK to switch to mobile safari, i.e. no in-app browser.

The photo option also leaves a lot to be desired. The images appear to part of a single large image that is about twice the size of the iPhone screen that you flick around – only limited zooming is permitted, with the individual images maxing out when they only fill a quarter of the screen. A single tap on any one image will take you to an extract of the accompanying story, a further tap will close the app and launch the story in Safari.

I found it was only too easy to accidentally tap on a story when navigating the app prompting the switch-to-Safari warning.

Whilst of course it’s good news that the papers are starting to accept that they need to start to cater for other platforms, it’s a shame that three such big heavyweights were not able to put a bit more funding into this project so as to make it something worth talking about (not like here, where I’m not talking about it).

Until it’s updated, あらたにす will be going the way of 振り向き美人 (Furimuki Bijin – a beautiful girl when she turns around), which I was forced to download for review purposes [iTunes, Free], but having discovered just how silly it is then decided to not do a whole blog about it but instead to mention it at the end of another blog post at some point.

Kristopher Tate, of Zooomr and Bluebridge fame, has launched a new service this morning, directed towards a wide audience of Japanese mobile subscribers. It is quite exciting indeed. am6.jp is a simple, efficient and to-the-point tool that allows any cell phone subscriber in Japan to receive mobile alerts and blog widgets, formatted for the mobile email at a specific time of the morning.


News, weather, IT reports, the list of feeds is already impressive and the team behind that new tool is letting us know that it’s only a start!

Check the service by directing your mobile/iPhone to http://m.am6.jp

Registration and account setup is a breeze.

Since the service is still in beta, any feedback is highly appreciated. Just address your thoughts here.

Kotoba!Diego over on ディエゴの日々 has posted an excellent review of Kotoba! [app website] [iTunes store], the multilingual Japanese Dictionary app for the iPhone and iPod touch.

“Kotoba! is a multilingual Japanese dictionary app that draws on the massive lexical database developed under the JMDict Project. It’s a fairly space-heavy app, with the current release (version 1.2) tipping the scales at 62.7MB, but that’s all for the best because the entire database resides on your iPod Touch/iPhone – meaning that no internet connection is required for the app to function properly

Check out the complete review here.