updated 07:45 am EDT, Thu October 30, 2008
Softbank iPhone 1Seg Tuner
Japanese cell carrier Softbank on Thursday catered to local tastes with the introduction of an official 1Seg TV tuner add-on for the iPhone 3G. Through a custom App Store download, the adapter gives access to the country's over-the-air digital TV broadcast network over a local Wi-Fi link, allowing residents to watch live shows from the iPhone while leaving the tuner in a bag or pocket. The tuner carries its own battery and can either power the tuner for three hours of TV or serve as a USB battery pack for the iPhone.
The receiver also works as a general PC adapter for USB over a physical connection, Softbank says. Shipping starts in mid-December for the tuner, which is estimated to cost the equivalent of $102; its companion iPhone app will be available for free.
An announcement comes as Softbank has also announced that iPhone owners in Japan now have free, unlimited access to the carrier's BB Mobile Point Wi-Fi hotspots. The deal grants access to about 3,500 hotspots in the country that include McDonald's restaurants as well as airports, coffee shops and train stations. Users will initially need to sign in when access becomes available on November 4th, but a change to the system on December 1st will automatically connect iPhones to supporting hotspots.
The addition of 1Seg as an option is significant for the iPhone's wider adoption in Japan, where mobile TV has a much stronger presence and is often considered an important feature for most handsets. Sales of Apple's phone are described as good for Softbank but have encountered resistance due to the absence of 1Seg as well as emoji messaging icons, which are due to be added in iPhone 2.2 firmware. [via Impress]