After a very long period of time in which it heavily trailed the local companies, Apple has now become the No.1 handset maker in Japan. This applies both to the fourth quarter of 2012, as well as the whole of last year. For Q4, Apple’s market share in Japan was 16%, while for the full year it was 15%.
This ends a six-year reign by Sharp, which came in second, tied with Fujitsu (with 14% market share each). Apple has effectively been No.1 since November.
This is quite a feat in a market that until very recently wasn’t really that open to smartphones (since Japanese feature phones were incredibly advanced and so there was less of an impending need for smartphone use). And when smartphones did start to sell well over there, it was still local companies like Sharp and Fujitsu and Sony that took most of the market share.
Not so anymore, though. In 2012 foreign phone brands had more than 50% of the market – for the first time in Japan’s history.
This all has to do with how fierce competition between the local carriers has gotten. Softbank and KDDI heavily promoted the iPhone in 2012 in attempts to lure people away from Docomo, Japan’s biggest carrier. Docomo fought back introducing many new smartphone models, but those were mostly from foreign brands as well.
However, the worldwide war between Android and iOS has now finally reached Japan, one of the last recluses before this point. In a market in which Nokia and Motorola both failed to get any traction, Apple has succeeded. But not without a tough (and long) fight.
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