iPhone shaking up Japan's mobile industry

The arrival of Apple's iPhone 3G will force Japanese cellphone makers to revamp their handsets to allow increasingly sophisticated software, a senior official at Softbank Mobile, quoted by an AFP report, said.

Faced with increased competition, Japanese handset providers will have to provide more software-oriented machines like the touch-screen iPhone, said Tetsuzo Matsumoto, a senior executive vice president at Softbank Mobile.

'It's now the turning point,' said Matsumoto, whose company is the only Japanese carrier so far to have launched the iPhone 3G in Japan.

The iPhone's key advantage is that more features and applications can be added to suit the needs of users, he said.

Softbank Mobile launched Apple's iPhone 3G for the first time in Japan in July, drawing long queues and helping the operator to add more subscribers, the AFP report further said.

But other operators, such as industry leader NTT DoCoMo, are more sceptical about the iPhone's prospects of success in Japan, the AFP report said.

DoCoMo, the pioneer of 3G telephones, has its own popular 'i-mode' high-speed internet service.

Despite their popularity at home, Japanese handsets lag far behind those made by global leader Nokia in terms of overseas sales.