Addressing a widely-publicized feature omission for Japanese iPhone users, local carrier Softbank on Thursday announced plans to begin selling a TV Tuner add-on later this year that will also serve as an extended battery pack.
Expected to retail for around US$100 when it goes on sale in mid-December, the rechargeable brick-like receiver will include an internal Wi-Fi module and external antenna for tuning into the One-Seg (or 1seg) mobile terrestrial broadcasting service available in Japan and parts of Brazil.
The device will deliver the One-Seg signal to iPhones via Wi-Fi through a specialized application that will be made available on the App Store free of charge. This frees users to place the receiver in their purse or pocket. Alternatively, the gadget can be connected to iPhones via the dock connector, where it can then serve as an secondary iPhone battery.
It appears that Softbank, Apple’s exclusive iPhone carrier in Japan, will market the unnamed device through its retail stores, advocating “around 3 hours” of continuous One-Seg viewing time. It weighs in at about 2.8 ounces and measures approximately 2.0 x 3.5 x 0.6 inches — slightly more compact than the iPhone but a bit thicker and lighter. It can be fully recharged in about 2 hours over an AC power supply or about 4 hours over USB.
Earlier this week, Softbank announced that iPhone sales drove a near 2 percent rise in quarterly profits for its September quarter.
The free WiFi Internet connection service will be through Yahoo!BB’s hotspot network. The tuner transfers movies on 1-Seg digital TV broadcasting to iPhones via WiFi connection.
Sofbank will also persuaded Apple Computer to localize iPhones for the Japanese market by adding the emoticons function to the iPhone within the year through an update program. Email without emoticons can’t be email in Japan!