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Apple grabs 72% of Japanese smartphone market

updated 11:05 pm EDT, Thu April 22, 2010

iPhone dominates advanced Japan phones

Apple virtually dominates the Japanese smartphone market, MM Research Institute found in a new study. By the end of the fiscal year ended in March, the iPhone had 72.2 percent of the field with 2.34 million units on Japanese. Its next-closest rival, HTC, had just 11.1 percent, while local phones didn't register until third place Toshiba's 6.8 percent.

The shipments were more than double the 1.1 million iPhones that were shipped a year earlier. Apple in its latest quarterly results had already noted that quarterly shipments for early 2010 were up 183 percent in Japan compared to a year earlier.

Apple's lead wasn't enough to get the lead in the total Japanese phone market but was enough to let it eclipse a number of smaller Japanese companies. Sharp for the fifth year in a row held a comfortable lead with 26.2 percent, helped largely by its carrier-independent, camera-focused AQUOS Shot lineup. Fellow domestic heavyweights Panasonic (15.1 percent), Fujitsu (15 percent), NEC (10.5 percent), Kyocera (6.1 percent) and Sony Ericsson (5.5 percent) were the runners up.

Analysts at the institute credited Apple's burgeoning share to the rough state of rival operating systems in the country. Android and Windows Phone will only get traction in the country this year, MMRI said. The iPhone's relatively small slice of the bigger market was partly determined by its exclusive presence at SoftBank, which is relatively small compared to NTT DoCoMo or KDDI's Au. Most Japanese companies have at least one phone model at each of the top three carriers and in many cases several.

Japan has traditionally opted for phones which lack smartphone-class operating systems but often have a wide range of advanced and often proprietary features. Many have relatively large screens and built-in 1Seg TV tuners to accommodate the long commute times in major cities; FeliCa, a near-field wireless payment system, is also common and lets residents pay for public transit or store items just by passing the phone next to a receiver. The iPhone has none of this built-in and has usually had to rely on companion devices to achieve the feature, but its relatively advanced, easier to use software has also stood in contrast to the limited yet complex interfaces on many native phones.

Above Apple in all phones (counter-clockwise): Sony Ericsson, Kyocera, NEC, Fujitsu, Panasonic, Sharp

Below Apple in smartphones (clockwise): HTC, Toshiba, RIM, Sony Ericsson, Samsung

By Electronista Staff


  1. slapppy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2008



    According to Wired they hate the iPhone. ;-)

  1. CaptainHaddock

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Apr 2004


    Not quite wrong…

    The iPhone did poorly for the first several months. It wasn't until Apple added a bunch of important features that all other Japanese phones had, like emoji input, that it started to take off. (Softbank also dropped the monthly cost of the phone by $40 at the same time.)

  1. splateagle

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2007


    what's that quote? "Lies, damned lies, and statist

    Comparing it with other "smartphone class" phones is one way of making the iPhone's Japanese numbers look good to us westerners, but in Japan the distinction is largely meaningless.

    The unvarnished truth is that the iPhone doesn't offer the average Japanese consumer much (if anything) in the way of features that they haven't already had on their phone for the past ten years or more.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Peter Bonte

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001



    Yeah strange, why is the bestselling AQUOS Shot not a smartphone? Apple maybe has 72% of the western app-store driven smartphones, that would be more accurate.

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