Apparently our beloved national institution, the iPhone, isn't such a big hit in Japan. It's doing so poorly that Softbank, its Japanese carrier, is offering the 8GB iPhone free with a contract. Update:
Wired points to the iPhone's high monthly plan, lack of multimedia messaging support, and dependence on a computer for syncing as the main obstacles to popularity in Japan. Many in Japan use a mobile phone as the primary computing device and have foregone a full-sized computer, so the iPhone's requirement is a dealbreaker. Western companies historically have had trouble cracking the Japanese market (Microsoft and Nokia could attest), so it's not necessarily a shocker that Softbank is reduced to giving the suckers away.
Update: Nobi, one of the leading iPhone proponents in Japan, seems to have been misquoted or at least misunderstood in the Wired article. He explains, at length, that he thinks the iPhone isn't a failure in Japan, considering it's sold anywhere from 300,000 to 400,000 units to date. He acknowledges that it's not necessarily the perfect phone for Japanese users, due to its lack of TV, emoji (Japanese emoticons), and Osaifu-Keitai (an automated scanning/payment system), but that it's still quite hip and not "lame" like the Wired article alleges. The problem mostly seems to be a matter of perception: Japanese newspapers have printed stories about the iPhone's failure, even though that's a bit misleading. But certainly the iPhone is not a huge, game-changing hit in Japan as it is here in the States. [Wired]