Nokia's last footprint in the Japanese phone market will disappear by the end of August, local media said Friday [sub. required]. The company had already stopped direct carrier deals for phones in 2008, but Nikkei now understood Nokia would exit entirely. The withdrawal would include closing the stores for its upscale Vertu badge in Tokyo's Ginza and Shibuya districts.
The move might be necessary for Nokia. Although Symbian is used on some Japanese phones, Nokia itself is downplaying the platform and will eventually move all its smartphones over to Windows Phone and MeeGo. S40 is used on most Vertu models and most of Nokia's basic phones, but at least Vertu is now moving on to full Symbian.
A departure still signals Nokia's rapidly receding power in the phone world. Symbian, its near-exclusive smartphone platform until now, has already been eclipsed by Android and may see Apple's iOS do the same within a year. Even in its normal stronghold of basic phones, its share has dropped quickly enough that Samsung might overtake it within a year.
Apple, notably, has stores in both Ginza and Shibuya and has seen its Japanese sales explode, keeping it as the top individual smartphone maker even as Android has a collective lead.