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iPhone becomes biggest-selling cellphone in Japan

updated 08:45 am EST, Fri March 9, 2012

Apple gets absolute lead in Japan phones

Apple now has the top-selling cellphone of any kind in Japan, IDC Japan determined late Thursday. The iPhone 4S launch helped Apple claim 26.6 percent of all cellphone shipments in the country this fall. It may have been the first non-Japanese company to top local ranks, ending a longstanding emphasis on local makers.

The Fujitsu-Toshiba alliance was next closest at 18.3 percent courtesy of its Arrows smartphones, while Sharp (15.7 percent), Kyocera (9.8), and Panasonic (8.8) were next. Year-long, the spike was enough to give Apple 14.2 percent of the country's cellphone sales. Sharp (20.1 percent) and Fujitsu-Toshiba (18.8 percent) were still larger, but it did see Apple eclipse Panasonic (10 percent) and Kyocera (9.7 percent).

For Apple, it represented a turnaround after a year of inroads by Android. Adding KDDI, Japan's second-largest carrier, may have been key both by widening the addressable base but also by eliminating a 'safe' area for Android similar to how Sprint and Verizon access improved American share.

The Japanese market is well-known for a hesitance to embrace outsiders, partly out of a preference for country-specific features like 1Seg TV tuning and FeliCa NFC payments. Apple's success in sales without having any of these features might indicate a turning point where the OS and overall experience outweigh feature checklists. [via Mainichi Daily News]

Fall quarter market share

Full 2011 market share

By Electronista Staff


  1. Jubeikiwagami

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2011



    Hello Wired! Remember that little tidbit about the Japanese hating the iPhone or something to that effect?

  1. sessamoid

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2001


    Especially impressive

    when you consider that these massive sales of the iPhone 4S is Japan are BEFORE Siri is available in Japanese. I imagine that the sales will at least hold up at this level or even increase once the biggest selling feature of the phone becomes usable for Japanese-speakers.

  1. bazaarsoft

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2005


    I wish I'd bookmarked that claim chowder

    Similar to the Wired story - claims by several ANALysts that the iPhone would flop in Japan because they were so used to "better" phones.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Re: Especially impressive

    I imagine that the sales will at least hold up at this level or even increase once the biggest selling feature of the phone becomes usable for Japanese-speakers.

    And if it doesn't, does that mean Siri isn't the biggest selling feature of the phone?

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010



    Omedetou gozaimasu!

  1. DaJoNel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2010



    Haven't all the Fandroids said that Siri is the only selling feature for the iPhone 4S? Oh no! If that's not the main selling feature, then Apple must actually have better hardware, operating system, etc.!

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