The world continues to be "lit up" by the iPhone, and the latest news that the 3G version will soon be launching in Japan ( correctly called by Lars and the team at Wireless Watch Japan), the question that keeps being launched our way is "does this really matter?"
Japan is a market that accounts for less than 3% of the world's total mobile subscribers, but generates 19% of the world's total data revenues, and stripping data communications revenues (like SMS and mobile messaging) out of this equation, 36% of global mobile internet revenues. All of this without the iPhone.
So the prospects that the iPhone will spark further usage of mobile internet content and services in Japan seems to be a little far-fetched. But where the iPhone is likely to make it's greatest impact is bringing the Japanese market more closely in line with other markets around the world.
As Japan has spent nearly a decade separated from the rest of the world in terms of mobile internet usage and adoption, the iPhone may turn into the great equalizer. Exactly the right platform to begin to help the most successful content, services and applications gain the global attention that they deserve. And at the same time, create a platform for future innovations that may help the world catch up to Japan's levels of mobile internet usage.
So while the overall impact in terms of total sales may not impress the analysts, something more subtle, but potentially more important to the future of the mobile internet may be underway. Although I believe that Google's Android is a more blatant attempt to make Japan's overall ecosystem model relevant around the world, the iPhone may also go a very long way in bringing an entirely new level of collaborative innovation between Japan and the rest of the world.