updated 07:05 pm EST, Thu December 17, 2009
Apple crushing Sharp, Willcom in Japan
Apple has claimed nearly half of the Japanese smartphone market in just over a year, Impress says. iPhone sales represent46.1 percent of the entire market in 2009 and also claim the top two spots on the Japanese charts by a wide margin, with the older iPhone 3G still leading at 24.6 percent and the iPhone 3GS close behind at 21.5 percent.
The two have had a devastating effect on domestic smartphone sales between 2008 and 2009. The third-place rival, Sharp's Windows Mobile-based Advanced W-ZERO3, had its market share cut in half to 14.6 percent this year. Willcom's 03 also dropped from 8.3 percent to 6.8 percent, and the original W-ZERO3 had its share halved to 4.5 percent.
Every other smartphone competitor had just a small fraction of the market, including Android. NTT DoCoMo's version of the HTC Magic, the HT-03A, only mustered 10th place with 2.3 percent. Most other smartphones earned less than one percent.
Impress explains the major shift towards Apple as a virtue of its ease of use and apps encouraging use much more than its competitors. About 77.3 percent of iPhone 3GS owners use data for over half an hour a day. Android and iPhone 3G users are tied at 66.8 percent using data for the same amount of time, but only 54.6 of Windows Mobile phone users need or want to use data for as long an interval.
The entire user base studied believes a smartphone helps their productivity, but a disproportionately higher number of iPhone users believe this, the analysts note.
Although most of the phone market in Japan is still dominated by regular "feature" phones, the apparent takeover by Apple of the high-end space mirrors a belief by Japanese researchers that the country's native phones are too complicated and insular. Most Japanese phones carry complex, heavily menu-driven interfaces and focus on catering to very Japan-specific features like 1Seg mobile TV, FeliCa contactless payments and i-Mode services. Apple has refused to implement these as it would force a separate production run, but the reduced feature set along with its interface experience has provided a more accessible platform.