The long wait is over: Japanese geeks will finally get their iPhone courtesy of the good folks at SoftBank. The surprisingly brief official announcement from SoftBank was a clue that the agreement was most likely reached at the last minute. The company statement read, "SoftBank Mobile Corp. today announced it has signed an agreement with Apple to bring the iPhone to Japan later this year."
The longstanding rumor had been that market leader NTT Docomo would get the coveted contract from Apple, but for local expats in Japan the SoftBank choice makes sense. Despite Docomo's powerful network and local brand recognition, SoftBank's marketing approach (the faces of SoftBank Japan are movie stars Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz) continues to be a favorite among more internationally-minded Japanese consumers. The only disappointing part of the announcement is the annoyingly vague "later this year" part, indicating that Steve Jobs' speech next week may reveal an even longer wait for Japan-based iPhone fans. Alas, there's still no word on whether the iPhone will ever make it into mainland China, home of the best iPhone bootleg on the planet.