Japan iPad 3G Locked to Softbank Mobile

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It looks like Japan’s iPad 3G customers won’t be able to choose their wireless data carrier like shoppers in other countries can. Instead, the iPad with 3G support will be locked to Softbank Mobile in the country.

When Apple introduced the iPad in January, the company stated the version that supports 3G wireless data access wouldn’t be locked to specific carriers, allowing users to choose the company that best suits them.

The iPad is Apple’s multimedia tablet device that runs iPhone OS. It includes a 9.7-inch multi-touch display, supports most iPhone apps, includes built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, and some models include 3G wireless data access, too.

Apple hasn’t said why the iPad will be limited to a single 3G provider in Japan, nor has Softbank Mobile offered any statement.

[Thanks to Macworld for the heads up.]

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It could be due to the specific content made especially for Softbank mobile users provided by companies like Yahoo Japan (subway/train info, restaurant info, etc), or the Japan specific MMS system implemented, or a number of other items. I can’t see why this content and/or technology can’t be adapted to the standard iPad.
However with that said, there has been talk about the industry changing to allow the consumer the choice of mobile provider and offer unlocked hardware, but this change is coming woefully slow.


The point about content is a canard. It would be a relatively simple matter for Yahoo Japan to block access to their content for anyone attempting access from any point other than a Softbank SIM or WifFi access point.

For too long, the Japanese mobile carriers have promoted their badly-designed, dysfunctional proprietary walled gardens to the point where many Japanese believe that these are “the mobile Internet”. The iPad and iPhone offer a chance to break away from this mentality - hence they’re dangerous to the content monopolists. In the meantime, marketing for phones in Japan will continue concentrate on the number of colors offered, and the bells and whistles, rather than on true functionality (let alone ease of use, which is the real differentiating factor for the iPhone and iPad).

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