The iPhone Rules Japan

Apple iPhone Huge Sales - AkihabaraNews.com

Japan's Best Selling Mobile Telecommunications Device
Well yes, we're talking about the "smartphone," but any reasonable person would agree that the word "phone" is really becoming superflous, vestigial; an evolutionary appendix, if you will, in mobile communications nomenclature. "Mobile telecommunications device" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, so we'll just have to wait for Apple or whomever to come up with a new name for our always-on, always with us conduits to the ever-growing stream of shared global awareness.

Anyway, however we decide to categorize the devices, here in Japan, there is clearly one smartphone to rule them all. For more than 3 years now, with a consistently growing marketshare, iterations of Apple's flagship product have been the best selling phones in Japan - and not just among smartphones - that's for the entire mobile telecommmunications market.

Not only does Apple have the best selling individual device, according in industry analysts at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, they now own a plurality of the entire Japanese mobile market:

Missing the Technology Boat Really Stings
Considering the number of individual models that competitors are churning out, it's all the more impressive. And considering that almost all of the Japanese-made smartphones are running a foreign-made operating system, Android, it's more than a bit embarrassing (Samsung, however, can hold its head up). 

Now, the iPhone is of course an amazing piece of tech, and it was revolutionary - but the snazziness of the device is only half the reason for Apple's success in Japan; domestic makers had a chance to compete, but instead dug in their heels and dug themselves into a hole. While the rest of the world had been getting their Blackberry, Palm, iPhone, and Android on, Sony, Sharp, Fujitsu and friends just sorta just shrugged and kept pumping out the same isolationist feature phones.

The hardware was impressive, and the once ubiquitous Japanese-made flip phones actually were the tip of the technological spear for a long while - and business was good. As such, complacent domestic makers weren't overly interested disrupting a profitable market with any kind of real innovation. Eventually, they aggressively stagnated and were happy just treading water.

Meanwhile, Apple was building a luxury speedboat.

Around 2007-ish, smartphone usage around the world began exploding. In response, conservative J-makers and service providers spent a few years doing little more than pontificating on how innappropriate foreign-made smartphones were for the Japanese market. Then, in late 2008, a guy named Masayoshi Son and the fledgling mobile unit of his Softbank, Inc. took a chance and introuduced the iPhone 3G to Japan. Boom.

Super-late and ultra-shamed J-makers and providers did eventually come around.

For information on how all that's going for them, see the chart above.

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Data Source: Counterpoint Technology Market Research
Images: Counterpoint Technology Market Research; AkihabaraNews.com

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