Apple becomes top-selling phone manufacturer in Japan

Apple becomes top-seling phone manufacturer in Japan

According to recent market surveys, Apple has become the top-selling phone manufacturer in Japan. The iPhone was the best-selling phone in Japan in 2012, allowing Apple to capture 15% market share. This puts them just ahead of Sharp and Fujitsu, both Japanese firms and both holding 14% of the market. Counterpoint Technology Market Research believes that the increase in iPhone sales was due to heavier marketing by KDDI and Softbank, Japan’s second- and third-largest carriers, respectively:

In 2012 both Softbank and KDDI heavily promoted the new iPhone 5 to challenge Docomo. This move sparked a battle of smartphones in which Docomo fought back with various new smartphone models, the majority of which were also foreign branded. So yet again it’s operator competition that has catalyzed the iPhone’s success – but in Japan at the expense of home grown players.

Overall, foreign-made handsets controlled 50% of the Japanese phone market in 2012 as consumers began to shift away from feature phones to smartphones. Japanese-made phones have declined heavily against the iPhone. Apple doesn’t enjoy the same market share that it does in America, certainly, and overall, Android makes up a larger total percentage of phones. But Apple’s ability to hold the single largest portion of the Japanese market for itself is impressive, and shows the global appeal of the iPhone.

Smartphone use is steadily increasing in Japan, and as it does, you can bet that the iPhone will continue to gain traction as the smartphone of choice for many customers.

If you're in Japan let me know what phones you're seeing on the streets and in transit, and whether more and more of them are indeed iPhones?

Source: Counterpoint Technology Market Research

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Joseph Keller

News Writer for Mobile Nations. Fascinated by the ways that technology connects us.

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Reader comments

Apple becomes top-selling phone manufacturer in Japan


I travel to Japan regularly and have many friends there.

Just to clarify, while it's true that more and more people now use smartphones instead of keitai ("feature phones"), a lot of the Android smartphones are manufactured by Japanese companies, like Sharp. So the majority of smartphones may be foreign manufactured, but by no means all.

Also, one reason why Android is more popular than iPhone is that in Japan people use phone email instead of text/SMS, often as their primary email address. This email is service provider specific and messages can't be forwarded to a different address, so if you're on DoCoMo and want to change to Softbank or KDDI to get an iPhone you're in for a lot of hassle. For those who only want "a smartphone", rather than specifically an iPhone, it may not be worth the effort.