SoftBank to carry iPhone in Japan

In a major but brief announcement, Japan’s SoftBank Mobile (formerly Vodafone) has disclosed that it will offer the iPhone in Japan. According to a brief press release, the company said it “has signed an agreement with Apple to bring the iPhone to Japan later this year.” According to Reuters, SoftBank spokesman Fumihiro Ito could not provide further details on the deal, such as a release date or whether the company would be the exclusive carrier in Japan. A report placed SoftBank and Apple in a mobile phone partnership as early as May 2006, when a Japanese newspaper reported that the companies were working together to build a cell phone with iPod-like features and high-speed web connectivity. Also of interest is SoftBank’s reference to the name “iPhone,” which due to trademark concerns has remained uncertain as the product’s name in Japan.