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iPhone controls 46% of Japanese smartphone market

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.

by MacNN Staff



  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Thank goodness for small favors...

    At least the iPhone wasn't a total bust in Japan as all the pundits said it would be. Korea iPhone sales are moving along rather well, too. It's a darn shame that sales in China are well behind some expectations, but maybe it's just too soon to give up hope.

  1. FreeRange

    Joined: Dec 1969


    China will come around....

    Do not give up hope with China. They will come around once the right product, pricing and payment process are in place. Also, iPhones are already all over the place, being brought in from outside the country.

  1. blidd

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Up yours John Strand

    That was the first thing I thought when I read the headline. This blowhorn of a So called teleanalyst has tried again and again to explain why the iPhone will fail. It does not do this it does not do that. We are still buying the iPhone in large quantities and we like using it which is the main reason why most peoples iPhones needs to be recharged at least once a day. One of John Strands Claimes is that the iPhone will fail when competitors releases smartphones with more features. The problem with that statment is, that those phones excisted when the first version was released but they did not have and still do not have the ease of use of the iPhone. His next claim was that it would fail in Japan and South Korea because those contries had smartphones a lot more advanced than the ones we have en Europe and US. The sales in South Korea is going rather well. And to conquor 46% of the smartphone market in Japan in just one year Proves how wrong John Strand is. Multitasking on my iPhone is an no go if it significantly reduces the battery time on my iPhone. If I have to choose between longer battery time and multitasking. My choice is longer battery time. But then again I am clearly suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome

  1. niji

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    these percentages are actually meaningless.

    there are hints to this in the list.
    the great majority of the fones listed are on Softbank and Willcom networks.
    these are the smallest of the 4 networks in Japan

    also, not obvious from the percentages is that the smart phone market in japan is the smallest of any industrialized country in the entire world.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Misleading headline

    This report is on sales, not marketshare. Apple controlled 46% of the sales of the market, not 46% of the entire market, for I'm sure someone there was selling 'smartphones' prior to 2009.

  1. Fast iBook

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Seeing as apple has only been in the phone biz for 2.5 years.

    - A

  1. Indervinder

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Misleading Numbers

    What is the definition of smartphone in the Japanese market? Does it have email, messaging, video etc. These features have been in almost all phones in the Japan market for years. The reason why the majority of Japanese did not buy the iPhone is the lack of functionality. Typically the Japanese phones are 1-2 years ahead of functionality compared to phones in the European and North American markets.

    The "smartphone" market in Japan is a meaningless term because pretty well all phones in Japan are smartphones. At least the NA or European definition of smartphone is meaningless in Japan.

    And yes these networks are the smallest networks in Japan so the more meaningful number would be the total number of iPhones sold out of all the phones in Japan. That percentage is very small.

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