Zblog9's Blog

Japan university gives away iPhones

Posted on: June 7, 2009

Japanese university is giving away hundreds of iPhones, in part to use its Global Positioning System(GPS) to catch students who skip class. In my opinion, the truancy may not decrease if the students come out with ideas like the phone’s owner give the iPhone to classmate and put in the pocket who attend the class or make fake attendance by modding the phone. That might be a blooper.

For 550 students of Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, it seemed like a dream homework project — a free iPhone each and official encouragement to play around with it and invent new applications.

But like anything in life that seems too good to be true, it was: their new toys are actually the ultimate snitches, informing the authorities when their owners are skipping classes.

Truancy among Japanese university students, even at glitteringly expensive private institutions like Aoyama Gakuin, is astonishingly high. Roll calls are perfunctory or easily circumvented and those students that can be bothered to attend lectures are often happy to shout “hai” on behalf of several of their absent friends.

The iPhone, complete with its global positioning technology, makes that scam harder to pull off: university staff can simply check the whereabouts of each phone as lectures start. Unless the phone’s owner is prepared to part with the handset itself and have it smuggled into lectures in a friend’s pocket — and few Japanese can bear to part from their phones for more than a few seconds – truancy may have been defeated.

Yet the iPhone giveaway may, inadvertently, be exposing another problem. Aoyama Gakuin struck its deal for the free phones with Softbank Mobile, the company running the network that once belonged to Vodafone in Japan.

The exclusive rights to distribute the iPhone in Japan were, supposedly, going to be the killer deal for Softbank as it competed with NTT DoCoMo and KDDI.

But while the iPhone is packed with amusing features that might have appealed strongly to many Japanese, it lacked one basic feature that everyone wants — a built-in payment swipe card for use at railway ticket turnstiles, shops and taxis.

That Softbank has plenty of iPhones left to give to students, one Tokyo Mitsubishi analyst said, may be a sign that the Apple machine is not selling as well as had been hoped.

Source: The Times


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