updated 09:40 am EST, Mon January 18, 2010
Mophie FeliCa to
Mophie today promised to give Japanese iPhone owners much-requested support for FeliCa wireless payments. The team-up with two local firms will see a version of Mophie's casing that uses the same RFID wireless as the Sony standard. In tandem with an iPhone app, the add-on will let Apple's device pay for many goods by bringing the iPhone within an inch of a FeliCa source, such as at a store. Mophie promises that it will work in reverse and that shops can use the accessory to take payments, especially at on-the-street shops where a usual counter isn't an option.
The combination app and peripheral will be available in Japan sometime during the spring.
Mophie's addition helps address one of the most significant flaws of the iPhone in Japan. Many phones produced within the country already have FeliCa support built-in and have contributed to the iPhone's relative niche status. Although it controls half the smartphone market in the country, the Apple hardware has a significantly smaller share of the overall phone business in the area partly because it won't work natively with FeliCa.
One other key absence, the lack of 1Seg TV, has been largely solved by a Softbank TV tuner, although it needs either an always-on home Internet connection or to accompany the iPhone to work. Many Japanese phones again have 1Seg built-in and are popular for commuters that often have more time to watch TV on their phones than they do at home.