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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 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.

  • by FuckingNickName ( 1362625 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:02PM (#30489074) Journal

    Apple is a strange beast. It's always seemed to aim at building a quality desktop for a restricted market which can afford it. It once lampooned Dell for being a company which makes profit on volume rather than quality. Even the click-wheel iPod remained steadfastly associated with its superior UI and superior price tag, and though it reached a mass market on "cool", it remained a winner on trademark usability and profit margin.

    Then comes the iPhone, and with the iPhone comes a slurry of a very Microsoft form of press release, always discussing proportion of some market captured, number of apps downloaded, etc. The trait has trickled into their computer division, as they boast about "highest revenue in retail stores in the US in quarter X", or similar misleadingly over- or under-specified statistics. It's not that you can't make a huge profit, especially short-term, on running a business in this way. It's just not the Apple I knew from the '80s and early '90s.

    The current favourite for Apple is "% of smartphone market" - this one is an easy winner, because private consumers tend not to need/care much for the full detail of smartphone features, but they do buy what's cool. And there's never been a cool smartphone before the iPhone. What is more, the market of private consumers always exceeds the market of business users, so figures illustrating the iPhone's usage where it might actually be useful are drowned out by Joe Public wanting what's shiny. Finally, private conumsers without the desire for bling or the means to obtain it just go for non-smartphones.

    To summarise, iPhones would be expected to win the "consumer smartphone" quantity battle because they are the only well-established consumer smartphone. As a result, they automatically win the "smartphone" quantity battle. But this doesn't necessarily mean they are the favoured smartphone in any particular group of existing users making an informed choice. There's a good reason why there was no "switch" advert for iPhone as there was for Mac.

  • by introspekt.i ( 1233118 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:06PM (#30489134)
    Maybe people don't care as much about the extra features as much as (you|they) thought they did.
  • Re:Great news! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:07PM (#30489152)

    I'm actually confused, I thought from reading around on slashdot that Japanese phones were 10+ years ahead of American ones? How did we catch up so quickly? Who invented the Time Machine?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:25PM (#30489450) Homepage Journal

    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?

  • by SwedishPenguin ( 1035756 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:28PM (#30489490)

    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 of a specific smartphone is, or even if it qualifies as a smartphone.

  • by b1t r0t ( 216468 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:28PM (#30489494)

    It's mostly because Xbox hardware is a piece of crap that dies easily. And the Japanese don't take that kind of shit lightly, especially when a company tries to hide he magnitude of the problem.

    It doesn't help any that in Japanese culture, the "X" symbol indicates failure, and there is also a kanji with an "X" in a box (unicode 51F6) that means "bad luck" and "disaster".

  • by SignalFreq ( 580297 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:34PM (#30489588)
    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 soon as my contract expires... a few reasons: 1) horrible battery life with 3G usage, 2) lack of MMS, and 3) AT&T's network is sub-standard (I experience 2-3 dropped calls every day).

    Interestingly, my wife refuses to use any iPhone, since the touchscreen never responds accurately to her touch. Most of her friends have similar issues, and now that I think about it, I don't see many women using an iPhone.
  • 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.
  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @03:11PM (#30491322)

    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 the iPhone to an illiterate melon farmer from 200 years ago and asked him to make his best copy of it. It's less sensitive, less accurate, and the whole feel of the interface is just wrong compared to the iPhone.

    I haven't played with the Droid Eris yet (quite possibly my next phone) but I'm hoping for the feel of the touchscreen it leans more towards iPhone than towards my Krave.

  • I never said I don't think iPhone isn't any good. I'd own one myself if I had the means. I had a Japanese filp phone while I lived there, and while it didn't have an app store it was more than good enough for GPS mapping, browsing the net, email, etc. Sure I couldn't download a bunch of fancy Google apps, but I didn't strictly need them. Best of all, it was free with a one year contract because it was older than 6 months.

  • Re:bullshit... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @07:17PM (#30494694)
    Did you read what you just quoted?

    the iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPod touch account for some 95.8% of all mobile views on the full site

    That means that they were measuring the traffic on the full site based on the logs which contain user agent strings. Those strings can be parsed for browser type and platform it is running on. They were not measuring the traffic on a dumbed down mobile site.

    This leaves two possiblities.

    1. Blackberry users do not surf because they know how crappy their browser is.

    2. The browser on Blackberry devices is too crappy to handle the full site and gets redirected to a mobile version.

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