MacRumors is reporting that the iPhone 2.2 update, just recently seeded to developers, has some hidden features that should please iPhone 3G users in Japan, namely the inclusion of over 400 Emoji Icons. Emoji icons are essentially the same thing as emoticons, only that they are a lot more expansive than what is typically available on most phones, and are immensely popular in Japan.
The initial lack of Emoji icons was considered to be a big deterrent for iPhone sales in a country where nearly 75% of cell phone users incorporate Emoji icons into their email and text messages. When the iPhone 3G went on sale in Japan on July 11, it was warmly received, though subsequent reports indicated that interest in the phone was waning. These reports, however, seemed to have been based on contrived data, and in actuality, iPhone sales in Japan are moving along as expected. But the significance of Emoji is not that Apple will all of a sudden capture a huge portion of the Japanese cell phone market, but rather an indication that Apple is doing its best to make the iPhone an attractive choice for consumers in a vast array of different markets. The Japanese cell phone market is extremely advanced, with some of the most feature-rich phones available anywhere in the world. Comparably, the American cell phone market lags behind the Japanese market quite considerably, and with Sharp holding a commanding 25% of the cell phone market in Japan, the Japanese market is a tough nut to crack. Emoji, at best, will give the iPhone a new feature that the majority of phones in Japan already have. And though that isn’t, in and of itself, a big deal, it’s significant to note that Apple is taking the different customs of worldwide cellphone usage into account as it continues its international roll out of the iPhone 3G. This can only be seen as a positive step forward for consumers, and a sign that Apple is paying attention to what consumers want. That said, where is cut and paste?!