How the iPhone Got Into Japan

Bloomberg: SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son shared how he got the iPhone into Japan with Charlie Rose. He met Steve Jobs two years before Apple announced the iPhone and asked.

“I said, ‘Well, I don’t need to give you my dirty paper, but once you have your own product, give me for Japan.’ And he said, ‘Masa, you are crazy.’”

According to Son, Jobs said, “We have not talked to anybody, but you came to see me as the first guy. I’ll give it to you.” The negotiation continued, as Son asked that Jobs put in writing that Apple would give him exclusivity for the Japanese market. Jobs’s reply? “‘No! Masa, I’m not going to sign for you because you don’t even own a mobile carrier yet!’ And I said, ‘Well, look, Steve, you promised me. You gave me your word. I bring a carrier for Japan.’”

And he did. SoftBank spent more than $15 billion to buy Vodafone Group’s Japanese unit in 2006. Sure enough, SoftBank Mobile, then a distant third in the market, announced a deal with Apple in 2008 to carry the iPhone.

Sometimes you need to be crazy, and ask.