Apple and Softbank to develop Cell Phone iPods?

MacRumors

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Readers report that CNBC has mentioned a report by Nikkei Net Interactive that Apple and Softbank are developing an iPod/Cell Phone:

Softbank Corp. and Apple Computer Inc. plan to jointly develop cellular phone handsets that have built-in iPod digital music players and can download songs directly from Apple's iTunes Music Store, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun learned Friday
The entire article is restricted to subscribers only, so further details not presently available. There have been a number of ongoing rumors that Apple has been working on a cellphone. In addition published patent applications have revealed that Apple has indeed been working on technology to allow users to purchase iTunes songs over cell phones.

The exact timeframe for the Apple-branded phone has been vague. Initial speculative reports claimed that an Apple Phone is expected in the next 12 months.

Cell phones with iTunes-playing capability are not entirely new. Motorola introduced the first iTunes-capable cell phone in September 2005 with a followup model (SLVR) in January. These models though were met with some criticism, especially due to the 100-song cap imposed on song storage.

Update: Appleinsider offers some more details of the report. The report indicates that it will be a 3G cell phone combining features of the iPod and Cell phone and is expected to be released in Japan "sometime this year at the earliest" and in the U.S. at a later date.

Update 2: Quotes/Details from the article:
Softbank President Masayoshi Son and Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs met and reached a basic agreement on this partnership in cell phone handset operations.
It appears, Apple will sell this phone under the "Apple" brand:
Apple, which will be selling cell phone handsets under its own brand for the first time, is expected to outsource production. The company is believed to have chosen Softbank as its partner because Softbank plans to offer high-speed Internet access for cell phones, with a focus on improving convenience for consumers.
Update 3: Softbank has released a statement claiming that media reports are "speculation."
 

thejadedmonkey

macrumors G3
May 28, 2005
8,047
679
Pennsylvania
Does anyone know who softbank corp is? I've never heard of them before.

Their website (http://www.softbank.co.jp/en/) is useless, although it does say that they're the largest IT company in Japan or something...and they've purchased 35% of trend micro or some such anti-virii company...

Google was no help either!:mad:
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,186
Release in Japan first would be unusual, but anything's possible with Apple these days! And this partnership might not be an Apple-branded Apple-top-to-bottom phone, it could just have Apple contributing in other ways to a non-Apple product. Like with Motorola--only maybe Apple contributes on the hardware side some too.

A REAL Apple-designed phone with Apple ease-of-use would be great.

And Apple ease-of-use does NOT include buying songs over a phone, I don't imagine. A big screen and a keyboard REALLY help the iTMS searching experience. I can see Apple offering buying-by-phone if there was big demand, but I doubt there is. Buying directly to your master library (which is on your computer) just seems so much simpler.
 

Maestro64

macrumors regular
Jan 5, 2005
208
0
Philadelphia
thejadedmonkey said:
Does anyone know who softbank corp is? I've never heard of them before.

Their website (http://www.softbank.co.jp/en/) is useless, although it does say that they're the largest IT company in Japan or something...and they've purchased 35% of trend micro or some such anti-virii company...

Google was no help either!:mad:
They bought Vodafone interests in Japan
 

dongmin

macrumors 68000
Jan 3, 2002
1,708
0
thejadedmonkey said:
Does anyone know who softbank corp is? I've never heard of them before.

Their website (http://www.softbank.co.jp/en/) is useless, although it does say that they're the largest IT company in Japan or something...and they've purchased 35% of trend micro or some such anti-virii company...

Google was no help either!:mad:
I imagine they're involved in developing the 'infrastructure' and 'network'--whatever that means. ;)
 

bluebomberman

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2005
919
0
Queens, NYC
From Appleinsider:

Softbank, which became a cell phone service provider by acquiring the Japanese unit of British mobile phone company Vodafone Group Plc, was reportedly chosen by Apple because the overseas company plans to offer high-speed Internet access for cell phones in Japan.


Like iTunes phones from Cingular, I guess.
 

Maestro64

macrumors regular
Jan 5, 2005
208
0
Philadelphia
nagromme said:
Release in Japan first would be unusual, but anything's possible with Apple these days! And this partnership might not be an Apple-branded Apple-top-to-bottom phone, it could just have Apple contributing in other ways to a non-Apple product. Like with Motorola--only maybe Apple contributes on the hardware side some too.
This does make sense since the Big 3 in the US fought to keep the Apple/Moto phone off the market. Also, without the big guys in the US it will be hard to get your phone on thier network, not the case in Japan. Plus this is a good way to proved the technology out and showing the Big 3 that people want their way verses them shoving it down on them.
 

yankeefan24

macrumors 65816
Dec 24, 2005
1,104
0
NYC
bluebomberman said:
From Appleinsider:

Softbank, which became a cell phone service provider by acquiring the Japanese unit of British mobile phone company Vodafone Group Plc, was reportedly chosen by Apple because the overseas company plans to offer high-speed Internet access for cell phones in Japan.


Like iTunes phones from Cingular, I guess.
If that is true, (them only Vodafone Japan) then maybe there is a chance of it being Verizon. Vodafone has a 45% stake in Verizon, so I may have a chance.

More on topic, this is interesting. I think this may be an Apple made and branded cell phone with a partnership for things like advice, and getting innovative technologies in these phones. Just a guess.
 

gwangung

macrumors 65816
Apr 9, 2003
1,106
19
Taken from Hoovers...

SOFTBANK's investment strategy is anything but soft. Full-throttle investing by founder, president, and CEO Masayoshi Son has molded SOFTBANK through aggressive investments in a variety of Internet ventures. Under Son's leadership (he is hailed by many as the Bill Gates of Japan), the holding company has extended its investment reach across e-commerce, financial services, Internet infrastructure, information technology-related distribution services, publishing and marketing, and technology services. SOFTBANK complimented its 2003 purchase of Japan Telecom with acquisition of the Japanese business of mobile phone company Vodafone in 2006. Son owns more than 31% of the company.

With stakes in more than 100 Internet-related companies, the debt-heavy SOFTBANK is looking to prune some of its less profitable holdings (including MediaLive International) to fund acquisitions and its high-speed Internet access business in Asia. SOFTBANK plans to inject some $2 billion into Vodafone Japan (which is changing its name) after spending nearly $16 billion to acquire the company. Son assumed leadership of the unit as well.

SOFTBANK expanded into banking when it joined a consortium that purchased Japan's failed Nippon Credit Bank (later renamed Aozora Bank). A stock market darling during the "Internet bubble" of the late 1990s, SOFTBANK has seen its stock price and bottom line decline.

The bedrock of the company's Internet holdings is its less than 10% stake in Yahoo! and its ownership of Yahoo! Japan, as well as stakes in such ventures as E*TRADE. It has ceased new investments in Latin America and Europe.

In an attempt to create a larger domestic market for its e-commerce and Internet companies, SOFTBANK has moved into the broadband Internet connection market, providing asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) services. The firm is also taking on Japanese telecom giant NTT and plans to offer a discounted land-line telephone service.

It acquired the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, a professional baseball team, in 2005.


HISTORY:

Ethnic Korean Masayoshi Son grew up in Japan using the name Yasumoto to conform with the Japanese policy of assimilation. In the early 1970s, the 16-year-old came to the US and began using his Korean name. Son entered the University of California at Berkeley and, while there, invented the prototype for the Sharp Wizard handheld organizer.

Bankrolled by the nearly $1 million that Sharp paid him for his patent, Son returned to Japan and founded software distributor SOFTBANK in 1981. The company got its first big break when it inked a distribution agreement with Joshin Denki, one of Japan's largest consumer electronics retailers, that year. Son used this agreement to gain exclusive distribution rights for much of the software he distributed.

SOFTBANK went public in 1994. That year, as part of an evolving plan to control digital data delivery, Son bought the trade show division of Ziff-Davis Publishing, augmenting it in 1995 with the purchase of COMDEX, the trade show operations of the Interface Group. The next year SOFTBANK bought the rest of Ziff-Davis. It also bought 80% of Kingston Technology (sold 1999) and a stake in Yahoo! -- which laid the cornerstone for its Internet empire.

SOFTBANK accelerated its Internet investment pace in 1997, taking stakes in dozens of Web companies. That year it filed suit against Yell Publishing, a Japanese firm that published a book accusing SOFTBANK of issuing phony financial statements, among other improprieties.

In 1998 the firm moved into financial services, entering a joint venture with E*TRADE to offer online stock trading in Japan. SOFTBANK also took Ziff-Davis public (it retained a majority stake).

Internal changes marked 1999 when SOFTBANK merged with MAC, Son's private asset management company, and transformed itself into a holding company focused on Internet-related companies. It teamed with the National Association of Securities Dealers to create a Japanese version of the Nasdaq stock market (launched in 2000; closed in 2002). SOFTBANK also partnered with Microsoft and Tokyo Electric Power to launch SpeedNet, a Japanese Internet service provider.

In 2000 the nearly decimated Ziff-Davis announced it would transform its online arm, ZDNet, from a tracking stock into a stand-alone company and adopt the ZDNet name; later CNET Networks bought both companies instead. That year SOFTBANK formed venture capital funds focusing on areas such as Latin America, Japan, Europe, the UK, and emerging markets.

The company reorganized in 2000 and placed most of its non-Japan-based holdings under a new unit called SOFTBANK Global Ventures. Sharpening its focus on Internet investments, SOFTBANK sold its stake in antivirus software maker Trend Micro. Branching into banking, SOFTBANK headed a consortium that paid $932 million for Japan's failed Nippon Credit Bank. SOFTBANK's share of the bank (renamed Aozora) stood at nearly 49%. The firm's stock price tumbled in 2000, and it considered taking several holding companies public.

In 2001 Cisco bought a nearly 2% stake in SOFTBANK in exchange for the firm's 12% stake in the hardware company's Japanese unit. The company also sold its SOFTBANK Forums Japan, an Internet trade show company, to MediaLive International. In 2002 Nasdaq Japan announced its plans to close, after two loss-making years. SOFTBANK owned 43%.

2005 Sales % of total
e-Commerce 29
Broadband infrastructure 23
Fixed-line telecommunications 19
Internet culture 12
e-Finance 9
Technology services 3
Media & marketing 2 Broadmedia 2 Other 1 Total 100


FINANCIALS * * * * * * * * * *
FISCAL YEAR DATE: March, 2005
(Millions U.S. Dollars) 2005 2004 2003
Revenue $7,082.6 $4,897.7 $3,395.1
Net Income ($556.7) ($1,013.8) ($834.3)
Employees - 6,662 6,170
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
14,537
1,818
Updates to the article:

Softbank President Masayoshi Son and Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs met and reached a basic agreement on this partnership in cell phone handset operations.
It appears, Apple will sell this phone under the "Apple" brand:

Apple, which will be selling cell phone handsets under its own brand for the first time, is expected to outsource production. The company is believed to have chosen Softbank as its partner because Softbank plans to offer high-speed Internet access for cell phones, with a focus on improving convenience for consumers.
 

Seasought

macrumors 65816
Nov 3, 2005
1,093
0
Maestro64 said:
This does make sense since the Big 3 in the US fought to keep the Apple/Moto phone off the market. Also, without the big guys in the US it will be hard to get your phone on thier network, not the case in Japan. Plus this is a good way to proved the technology out and showing the Big 3 that people want their way verses them shoving it down on them.
So the idea is to let this loose in Japan, get massively popular and catch the attention of the big players in the US who will, ideally, offer some sort of deal/partnership to get the phone into the U.S. market? I personally don't follow this too close, but the idea of an Apple made phone has sparked my interest.

I hope it's sooner than later.
 

stockscalper

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2003
917
231
Area 51
ipod Cell Phone = SLVR

There already is a cell phone ipod and it's called the SLVR - just happens to be the best phone on the market right now. In one slender package you get a phone with 6 1/2 hours talk time, itunes, an email client (so you can replace the Blackberry) and a PDA that syncs via Bluetooth to your Mac. What more could you want? And did I point out it rocks! Sorry, Stevie, as usual you are late to the party.
 

SilvorX

macrumors 68000
May 24, 2002
1,701
0
'Toba, Canada
Maestro64 said:
This does make sense since the Big 3 in the US fought to keep the Apple/Moto phone off the market. Also, without the big guys in the US it will be hard to get your phone on thier network, not the case in Japan. Plus this is a good way to proved the technology out and showing the Big 3 that people want their way verses them shoving it down on them.
In Canada, the "only*" nationwide GSM carrier JUST started selling V3i's and the SLVR L7 this week, they had too many advertising campaigns with people break dancing for the ROKR back in the fall

*only includes Fido, since they own Fido
 

PekkaR

macrumors newbie
May 12, 2006
21
0
Macrumors said:
Cell phones with iTunes-playing capability are not entirely new. Motorola introduced the first iTunes-capable cell phone in September 2005 with a followup model (SLVR) in January. These models though were met with some criticism, especially due to the 100-song cap imposed on song storage.
Does iTunes-capability refer to actually running iTunes?

There's also the (still quite new) Nokia N91 smartphone that has a focus on playing music. The most notable things in hardware are the specific controls for playback and the 4 gigabyte built in storage space. I even spotted a link on another mac forum to the software that Nokia is giving out for syncing music libraries between N91 and iTunes. (can't play the DRM format, standardizing your collection on mp3 is a good idea anyway ; )

If I sound too much like I'm advertising, it's because I've been reading a lot of forums lately where people complain about not having cell phones that do this or that well or at all, and nobody mentions some stuff that might work out for them. (I don't like signing up for yet another thing just for that, but this forum I'll probably be reading a lot if I get one of those coming Inter iBooks.)

- PekkaR
 

freeny

macrumors 68020
Sep 27, 2005
2,064
6
Location: Location:
This is all just a smoke screen and part of a wider Apple attempt to send out confusing signals and products. This whole phone this is just getting tired.

There will be some type of product launch very soon and Apple is only trying to confuse the media.

What will it be?.........
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
14,537
1,818
PekkaR said:
Does iTunes-capability refer to actually running iTunes?
- PekkaR
Means will connect to iTunes and also play protected music from the music store.

arn
 

hobiehobo

macrumors newbie
Oct 4, 2004
2
0
USA
iPhone ideas

Here's what's comin' - (opinion only, but ESPECIALLY after what Gwangung wrote re: history of Softbank! Wow!)

http://www.avj.co.jp/katarog.html - a subsidiary of the Softbank Corp, Japan, which is partnering with Apple on the iPhone - provides a link (click on that 2nd one) to a PDF which shows the GrandDaddy (Papa?) of the upcoming video-conference-friendly Apple-branded iPhone (of iPhone.org fame).

Mark my words! It will include an amazing implementation of video iChat and it will link seamlessly with everything Leopard (OS X.5) - Addresses, Calendars, Emails, iTunes, iMovie, GarageBand (mp3s, maybe mobile samples?), etc. Leopard is 10 Xs the operating system Vista will attempt to be!

How do I know?

I can feel the low growl resounding through the Jungle.
 

fixyourthinking

macrumors 6502a
Oct 24, 2002
665
0
Greenville SC
macrumors said:
Cell phones with iTunes-playing capability are not entirely new. Motorola introduced the first iTunes-capable cell phone in September 2005 with a followup model (SLVR) in January. These models though were met with some criticism, especially due to the 100-song cap imposed on song storage.
The 100 song cap is VERY easily removed and actually has a quite well known hack to make it unlimited
 

JZ Wire

macrumors regular
Dec 18, 2003
248
1
Miami, FL
Sweet!

I hope this is true. I can only imagine what it would be like if Apple made a cell phone but I guess we wont have to wait much longer. :)
 

fixyourthinking

macrumors 6502a
Oct 24, 2002
665
0
Greenville SC
stockscalper said:
There already is a cell phone ipod and it's called the SLVR - just happens to be the best phone on the market right now. In one slender package you get a phone with 6 1/2 hours talk time, itunes, an email client (so you can replace the Blackberry) and a PDA that syncs via Bluetooth to your Mac. What more could you want? And did I point out it rocks! Sorry, Stevie, as usual you are late to the party.

Ummm ... the SLVR has HORRIBLE battery life and the RAZR SLVR keypad dents and gets hard to push after about 4-5 months of use.

The SLVR does not have PDA functionality