Making the rounds today is a rather useless survey which claims that 91% of Japanese will not buy the 'iPhone'. While I may have a personal bias against online surveys and their overreaching conclusions, this one is particularly unhelpful.
Much of the online press are describing this as a negative story, suggesting that 91% of the Japanese not being interested in the iPhone is a disappointing statistic. AlleyInsider spins it only slightly more appropriately, reporting that an impressive 9% of all Japanese are going to buy an iPhone. 9% of the Japanese population represents 11 million people, suggesting that Japan alone could be responsible for Apple's entire 10 million target mark this year.
Of course, neither conclusion is valid since it's not clear from the report how participants had been selected, making it impossible to generalize to the entire Japanese population.
Another disappointing aspect of the survey is that it was conducted before the iPhone 3G was officially announced, which means answers were based on knowledge and pricing of the original iPhone which has never been available for sale in Japan.
That being said, it's not a foregone conclusion that the iPhone will see success in Japan. Wired explored the dramatically different market mobile market found in Japan:
Japan is a culture of spec sheets. When consumers go to electronics stores to buy a cellphone, they frequently line up the specifications side by side to compare them before deciding which one to buy.
Though, it appears that many customers only use a very small percentage of features in their mobile phones in Japan. It remains to be seen if the interface and relative simplicity of the iPhone will be able to win significant marketshare in Japan.