Earlier today, Apple’s exclusive Japanese mobile carrier Softbank announced it will sell a TV tuner add-on for the iPhone. The TV tuner add-on for this handset is a noticeably missing feature from the already technologically sophisticated Japanese cell phone market. The product will offer around three hours of viewing time and retail for $100 when it’s released this winter.
The tuner add-on will also be an extended battery pack. Visually, it’s pretty bulky which may be an aesthetic turn off to Japanese consumers. Even though the handset is thicker than the iPhone it is lighter and more compact. It can also be recharged in about two to four hours using an AC adapter or USB.
The phone’s rechargeable receiver will have an internal Wi-Fi module and external antenna for tuning into “One-Seg” the mobile Japanese broadcasting service. A third party application will deliver the One-Seg signal to iPhone’s via Wi-Fi .
Apple’s iPhone has already struggled in the market because of an apparent lack of features. Many Japanese carriers already offer features like digital TV, satellite navigation, emoji — a wide range of pictures and emoticons used in emails — and chips that let phones double as debit cards, and train passes.
Apple appears to be working very closely with Softbank to offer roll out additional features. There is also speculation that the 2.2 iPhone software update will offer “emoji” support. With these plans in motion in Japan, Apple may not be too far away from offering TV tuners here in the US market.