It is being reported that Apple's iPhone
is no longer selling in volume in Japan. The iPhone carrier in the territory now says that the 8GB model is to be given away for free to customers signing up to a two-year contract.
As some readers may know, the iPhone saw strong demand when it debuted in Japan last July. Thousands of people lined up the first day at Softbank Mobile
's flagship store in Tokyo, as well as other outlets across the country, to grab the device. Things have changed radically ever since. Along with the economic downturn, Apple's already expensive handset is suddenly not that attractive anymore. In fact, things are so bad that Softbank is overstocked with devices and is now forced to sell them for nothing. The only thing customers really have to pay for is the monthly contract, for which they would have coughed up cash anyway.
“Softbank Mobile Corp., the only Japanese mobile phone operator selling Apple Inc.'s iPhone, will begin offering on Friday the multimedia gadget for free and slash Internet connection fees to attract more customers,” Softbank said on Thursday, according to The Japan Times. “Although the iPhone has garnered attention worldwide, market observers note the device is beyond the budget of most consumers,” reads the report
According to The Japan Times, the deal runs until the end of May. Softbank will provide 8GB iPhones for free, instead of ¥23,040. The 16GB version is also seeing a price cut, from ¥34,560 to ¥11,520. To sweeten the pot even more, the carrier is lowering the monthly cap for Internet services to ¥4,410 from ¥5,985. Current users will also benefit from the deal, according to the report.
However, buyers of an iPhone with a contract that runs under two years will not be able to take advantage of the deal, a company official stated. Other reports say the story is similar in the UK, with O2 admitting that it has taken 16 months of combined sales of the original iPhone and the 3G version to garner a million units sold.