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Cellphones Apple

iPhone Has 46% of Japanese Smartphone Market 214

MBCook writes "Despite claims earlier in the year that the iPhone was hated by Japanese consumers (later disproved), the iPhone has been doing well in the land of the rising sun and the evidence is in. Apple has taken 46% of the Japanese smartphone market, cutting in half the once 27% market share of the previous lead, Advance Sharp W-Zero3 (Japanese site). The article includes a large chart of the market share of Japanese smartphones over the last 3 years."
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iPhone Has 46% of Japanese Smartphone Market

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  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:48PM (#30488848) Homepage

    You gotta wonder what those numbers actually mean. Are we just talking about being a big fish in a miniscule pond? My own personal observations don't correspond to the idea that a "Apple has a 46% share". They certainly don't seem terribly visible for "such a large share".

    • The number may correspond to sales, not necessarily owned phones by the populace. Japan is no miniscule pond, especially when it comes to phones. I've seen endless stories about the highly advanced phone market in Japan. Phones there are more advanced, because the phone users have evolved (like a Pikachu) to become more advanced and demand more features (like a thunderstone). If you're talking about visibility from your perspective, I'd have to say that one perspective isn't relevant on such a large sca
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I should probably also note by the 'more advanced' line I meant that it was significant because a foreign phone has actually made headway into such an advanced user market in Japan. That definitely says something about its design, namely in Apple's case, the user interface vs. other phones.
    • by sznupi ( 719324 )

      There is no agreed upon definition of a smartphone for starters; practically all SE phones should qualify if iPhone does...

      But there's another thing. Which probably can't be applied here, with 46%, but certainly is present in not so clear scenarios.

      Namely - Apple has only one product. Yes, there's "non-3G", 3G and 3GS, but they are practically always presented as one device, "iPhone" (as in this case). Also on the lists of popularity of handsets (as in this case). But..."iPhone" belongs more in a chart with

    • by idolcrash ( 836925 ) <idolcrash@gmail . c om> on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:58PM (#30490076) Journal
      The problem is, I believe (from other sites carrying this story) that the smartphones altogether, have only a 22.7% marketshare. This includes the iPhone.
    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

      A friend of mine just got back from Japan 2 weeks ago, and he said everyone had smart phones, and he didn't see one iPhone. The most notable thing he saw was lots of Nintendo DSs being used as PDAs.

  • It's my understanding that the average Japanese person is more likely to have a phone than a computer, and that the phone can do pretty much everything a computer can (albeit with a much smaller screen), including playing MMOs, watching TV, etc. While I can see why people might like the bigger screen, does the iPhone have the apps/functionality that the Japanese user wants?

  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:02PM (#30489070) Homepage Journal

    Am I the only one suspicious that they're using a rigged definition of "smartphone"? That is an awfully small list of phones for Japan. What is their criteria? How the hell could a Windows Mobile device even be number two? Beating that is like winning the Special Olympics.

    Man, remember when people were pretending the iPhone was a smartphone before it had third party software, just to get it out of the feature phone category? Those were the days.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chitokutai ( 758566 )

      Actually, you're right, but in the wrong sort of way. The term smartphone that we've all associated with PDA-style functionality has yet to really rear its head here in Japan. Docomo has just barely started advertising the "Google Phone", and AU/KDDI won't even get a smartphone model until next year. Seriously, if you look at this list (I know, RTFA), Wilcom is in the number 2 position, and that company is barely a spec of dust in the cell phone market over here.

      I wouldn't be surprised if the iPhone cont

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 )

      Yeah, I've been googling those names, and every one I don't recognize is either running Windows Mobile (and most of those manufactured by HTC) or a rebranded Nokia device. Where are those amazing homegrown wonders that make the Japanese market so hard to crack?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SignalFreq ( 580297 )
      Their definition seems pretty broad, basically any phone that can run any of the smartphone OSs. More interesting is that the iPhone's main competitor, the W-Zero3, was built and released in 2005, 2 years before the iPhone American release in 2007 and 3 years before the Japanese release. The W-Zero3 has equal or better features with the exception of a touchscreen. So the iPhone is winning the market in Japan based upon marketing and the interface.

      I own an iPhone. I am definitely moving away from it as
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by RedK ( 112790 )
        Newsflash, MMS is available on AT&T, has been for a few months. That's one less complaint off your list.
        • Ah, I see that now, I haven't updated my iPhone since mid-August... it will be nice to finally have MMS... but the 3G (battery/coverage) issues and AT&T's network (though some analysts say it is the iPhone hardware) will still drive me to a different phone.
      • Let me guess. She tries to use her fingernail and tap, right?
        • Nope, she doesn't have long nails. She thinks it may be because her hands are usually cold, though I'm not convinced. She does use moisturizing lotion and hand sanitizer fairly often, which I think that is a more likely cause for poor conduction.
          • Nah, lotion and sanitizer don't cause problems. I have a bottle of hand sanitizer at my desk, and as far as the lotion goes, well, I gotta use that awesome screen for something...
      • Can you see your wife's reflection in a mirror? Seriously, I am amazed that she has problems with the iPhone's touchscreen. Its performance is a large part of why the iPhone is so phenomenally successful. Maybe it is an issue of long fingernails.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MBGMorden ( 803437 )

          I must concur. I'm male, but having let several females play with my iPod Touch (I swear the girls of the nation of gone phone-crazy - pulling out something new is like going to the park with a cute puppy these days), they all loved the interface. Despite my dislike of their marketing and control techniques regarding 3rd party apps, they certainly nailed the interface.

          Comparatively my actual phone is a Motorla Krave ZN4. I figured "touchscreen - it's gotta be good right?". Um, no. It's like they took t

    • by Kagura ( 843695 )

      Am I the only one suspicious that they're using a rigged definition of "smartphone"? That is an awfully small list of phones for Japan. What is their criteria? How the hell could a Windows Mobile device even be number two? Beating that is like winning the Special Olympics.

      Man, remember when people were pretending the iPhone was a smartphone before it had third party software, just to get it out of the feature phone category? Those were the days.

      If you take even just a weekend trip to Japan and walk around in public, you will see a TON of iPhones. I just got back last week, having been there for 15 days. The iPhone is very, very popular there. This is anecdotal evidence and a rather shoddy sampling, but for real statistics... well, that's why we have TFA ;)

  • From what I have found, the definition of 'smartphone' in the report was so broad so as to include nearly anything more advance than a digital watch. In past [] research reports on the same subject, the definition was narrow:

    "...smartphone refers to a device that is equipped with Symbian UIQ, Nokia S60/S80, Windows Mobile, Palm, Linux OS and BlackBerry."

    Now the definition has apparently widened to include so much junk, that the iPhone seem nearly divine by comparision.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by paimin ( 656338 )
      So, you're saying it's even more impressive, given that it's 46% of such a large pool?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Itninja ( 937614 )
        Originally the iPhone was not even considered. It was just an touchscreen iPod that could make calls. The other devices were solid phones already that had added PC-like features. Once the definition was broadened to include the iPhone it was, of course, very high in the ranking.

        It would be like if the definition of 'theater' to included, not only the stage, but also the screen. Suddenly all the Tony awards would go to movies and not plays.
        • Suddenly all the Tony awards would go to movies and not plays.

          I know it is just a hypothetical but it is still hysterically wrong. The people who choose Tony awards are not movie fans.

          If you think an iPhone is just a touchscreen iPod then you are completely out of touch with reality. Specifically, although the related non-cellphone device is called an iPod touch its name has befuddled you. Other than form factor it has very little in common with the venerable iPod devices. Don't be confuse with the name App

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mekkah ( 1651935 )
      If it includes every device, wouldn't it be much harder for the iPhone to obtain 46%, so this would be a much more impressive achievement? I'd have to think that they narrowed the definition down for this study, to give them a much higher share than one might think..
    • No android love?

  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcsqueak ( 1043736 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:13PM (#30489250)

    I was in Tokyo this past September, and I do remember spotting the iPhone there. However, it seems that many more people had flip phones. The typical flip phone style I saw was larger than those found here in America, to accommodate a bigger screen, and flatter then you'd see here. Many could do things such as watch TV, as my friend demonstrated on his phone.

    I don't ever remember seeing a TV commercial for the iPhone, or any subway/train ads for the iPhone. I do remember seeing subway ads for other phones. And for Google, heh.

    • I got one of those flip-phones, and while they do have a rather impressive range of features they still don't do the kind of stuff you'd expect of a smartphone.

  • Nice try, but no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by v(*_*)vvvv ( 233078 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:15PM (#30489282)

    The article should read: The few people that are buying smart phones are buying iPhones.

    Apple has a huge share of the TINY smart phone market. They key to this article is omitting the Smart phone market share.

    Average Japanese phones are smart enough that smart phones are very unpopular in Japan. People who need to do more than surf and email carry laptops, and more recently "netbooks."

    Also most people prefer the keypad over a keyboard for entering Japanese into their phones. This is just how Japanese is. So all those keypad phones are also unpopular.

    • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

      So why is this "but no" - a 46% share of the market that your product is targeting is excellent, regardless of how small that market segment is. The idea is not to be the very best or you've failed, it's to be profitable and produce a product people want to buy. Apple is very good at that, and is proving that with the emerging market for smartphones in Japan, where phone culture is vastly different to the US and Europe.

      It may be a very small share, but it is the lion's share of a small market - by any stret

    • It's better to be a market leader in a small growth industry than top dog in a dying market. Like when typing machine manufacturer IBM went into that silly computer business or when BASIC compiler writers MS cornered the x86 OS market.

  • as traditionally touch phones have suffered in asian countries where things like the stylus still reign supreme for complex alphabets. Apple must be really dedicated to the market, or must see some serious competition against their stateside market.
    • as traditionally touch phones have suffered in asian countries where things like the stylus still reign supreme for complex alphabets.

      Actually if you think about it, physical keyboards are a really bad idea for Asian countries - the input mechanism for Kanji and the like is actually really impressive on the iPhone, take a look: []

      The characters on the side are completions for the character you are drawing, plus there is completion of full phrases.

  • by TheVoice900 ( 467327 ) <> on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:25PM (#30489436)

    Hardly anyone in Japan actually uses a "smartphone". The regular flip phones are so full featured that there is not much need to. You can even download full TV series to your basic phone to watch while you ride the train. Between that, and email, and a few basic online apps, most consumers seem happy with their "bog standard" phones. The fact that a WinMo phone is in second place should be evidence enough that the smartphone market there is pretty much non-existant. Not once would you ever see someone on a WinMo phone.

    Furthermore, phone fashion is a huge thing. While the iPhone is pretty nice by our standards, it's got nothing on some of the glitzy and sleek phones available there. Fashion also changes quickly, while the appearance of the iPhone has remained largely the same.

  • What exactly is the definition of a "smartphone"? Is it being able to install third party applications? In that case my previous phone from Sony Ericsson (released almost 4 years ago) and most phones sold are smart phones. Is it a touch interface? In that case there are several smartphones that run neither of the Operating Systems that a smart phone must have according to the article.
    Before you can come up with a good impartial definition of the word "smartphone" you cannot know how large the market share o

  • ...confirming it.

    This is based on my previous experiences with the Apple RDB (reality distortion bubble), and how I have seen it make people want something so much, that they would even make it up.

    I’m not making a statement about its truth. Just that because of that, Apple news get a harder time. Microsoft for example would get an even harder time. Like with everything where you got burned too often, before.

    On top of that, I have problems believing, that an in all points inferior phone (Compared to th

    • Oh, and another thing: With the article stating, that it got marketed in the Apple-typical crazy fashion of total life invasion, I wonder how many of those who bought one, actually hate it now, and upon trying a different one, wish they would have chosen otherwise.

      I mean, I would, when I would later find out, that I can’t even remove the battery, or install anything I want. (Think a Joe Random, wanting to install a game he found on the net. [And if possible do so for free.])

    • Hey you stupid little retard dogmanic Apple fanboy moderators: Read my fuckin' comment! Read all of it!

      I’m starting a normal discussion here, and then you come in, wearing no pants, drooling like a retard, moderating everything troll that the little holy war monkey boy does not like, and fuck it all up!

      Be happy that we’re not in RL here, or I’d rip your fuckin’ face apart and feed it to my dogs!

      P.S.: Now THAT is a Flame! ^^ See. Take that as an example. Maybe you’ll learn somet

  • by recharged95 ( 782975 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:42PM (#30489784) Journal
    And why is this news?
  • Oh what a convenient lack of the number 2 and movement of the decimal point...

    Here’s the translated report: []

    Try to find anything else than the 24.6% in there!

    LOL, and I thought I did go a bit too far in my previous comment [], where I stated that the Apple reality distortion bubble would make people want it so much, th

    • From the link you provided, the iPhone 3G has a market share of 24.6 and iPhone 3GS has a market share of 21.5%, together the number is 46.1%.

    • From an earlier reader of the report: The 3G has 24.6% of the market. The 3GS has 21.5% of the market. That adds up to roughly 46%.

      Apple has sold three models of the iPhone but only the 3G and 3GS work with the more advanced networks in foreign markets. It seems fair (and involve absolutely no distortion field at all) to combine the shares for both current models.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jo_ham ( 604554 )

      Add together 24.6 and 21.5 (from the link you posted). I'll wait.

  • Has there been any WHARGARBLE over Apple having a monopoly in the Japanese SmartPhone market?

  • Bogus survey? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by burnin1965 ( 535071 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:02PM (#30490156) Homepage

    As with the AdMob survey numbers based on web browsing hits this survey is suspicious.

    Looking through my web server logs the only smartphone browser hits I get are from iPhone clients...

    "Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/1A543a Safari/419.3"

    But considering the iPhone has only 15% or so actual market share I found it curious that they seem to hold such a large share of web browsing as evidenced on my own server, so I looked closer at where these clients originated using a whois of the IP addresses of some clients,,,,, etc...


    OrgName:, Inc.
    OrgID: AMAZO-4
    Address: Amazon Web Services, Elastic Compute Cloud, EC2
    Address: 1200 12th Avenue South
    City: Seattle
    StateProv: WA
    PostalCode: 98144
    Country: US

    Uh, WTF! Every single iPhone hit is from the Amazon cloud computing cluster.

    Amazon runs their EC2 cloud computing cluster off iPhones? Something really fishy is going on here.

  • by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:20PM (#30490514)
    I spent 2 weeks in Japan (most of the time in Tokyo, Yokohama and Kyoto) and not once did I see a smart phone. Most people there use advanced flip phones. So smart phones have what, 5% of market share total and iPhone is 2.5% total? And that seems like a very generous guess based on my experience.

    And I spent lots of time on the subway and various local trains and buses.
  • anime, manga and other media.

    If a phone shows up, chances are it's an iPhone, and often labelled as such. Given that anime is otherwise often home to such labels as Carbucks and McGonads (it's in english, therefore it's cool, never mind what it means), them being labelled correctly pretty much means Apple is paying for it.

    So. Advertisement, and lots of it. Anyone closer to the country able to verify this?

  • I took a minute to knock up a more informative sales chart, a stacked graph by year [].

    I was in a rush so I skipped out the smaller sellers and a label for the Y axis.

  • The smartphone market here is absolutely miniscule. I'm not sure what anyone would gain from getting a smartphone in Japan since the normal Japanese cell phone already has more features than the standard American smartphone, excepting support for corporate policies and the like. The Japanese language works very well on a numeric keypad; there's absolutely no reason to use a keyboard, which is one of the draws of a smartphone. Japanese phones all have dedicated application stores/game sites as well, so that'
    • The iPhone does have Kanji support including the ability to draw the characters with your finger. It also has emoji support. In fact, I enabled emoji on my Canadian iPhone with a free app that unlocks it on non-Japanese phones. It has a useful texting interface. Have you even used an iPhone recently?
  • by greggman ( 102198 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @08:37PM (#30495320) Homepage

    iPhone may have 46% of the SMARTphone market in Japan but smartphones are not popular in Japan at all.

    There's been no need for them. Non-smartphones do all the most useful things that users want and more in Japan. A typical Japanese NON-smart phone

    *) Has a 5-12 megapixel camera
    *) Browses the web just fine
    *) Has 3D GPS based navigation
    *) Receives digital TV signals with no carrier charge
    *) Records those digital TV signals for later playback (pocket tivo)
    *) Has it's own digital answering machine built in, no need for the phone company to record messages unless you have no signal and no need to call the phone company to hear your messages as they are already on the phone.
    *) Has MP3/WMA/AAC playback
    *) Plays games
    *) Has RFID digital wireless payment system for paying for trains, subways, buses, vending machines, and most convenience stores.
    *) Can download apps.
    *) Has 2 displays, one inside the phone, one out.
    *) Supports 500+ icon characters for email. (smiles, frowns, cakes, fireworks)

    etc, etc, etc,

    You only need to go on any train or subway car in Tokyo and look around and you'll notice it will take you 5 to 10 cars worth of people to see a single iPhone

    Compare to say NYC or SF where you can go in any starbucks and it seems like every other person has an iPhone.

    No, iPhone is no doing that well in Japan.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.