Three out of every four smartphones sold in Japan are reportedly iPhones, but how did the Apple devices get there to start with?
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son shed some light on that question during a television interview with Charlie Rose which aired earlier this week, in which he told the story of how he landed the iPhone back in 2008.
Forget Black Friday or Cyber Monday, New Year in Japan is the time of choice for retailers and shoppers alike — since this means Fukubukuro.
Literally translating as “lucky bag”, fukubukuro gives stores a chance to make room for incoming stock and drum up some publicity by selling off inventory at a massively discounted rate. The catch? That customers hand over their money for a grab bag they have no idea of the contents of.
In Japan and other Asian countries, an annual tradition that many retailers participate in during the holidays is called “Fukubukuro,” commonly referred to as “lucky” or “mystery” bags.
The concept is simple: you put together bags of heavily discounted products at random and sell them to customers who don’t know exactly what they’re getting. It may sound weird to westerners, but if you really think about it, an overweight old man in a bright robe coming down your chimney at night is a lot weirder.
Anyway, Apple Japan is participating in the tradition again this year, and it has confirmed the special sale’s kickoff date of January 2nd. Lucky Bags will cost 36,000 yen, or around $345. Bags usually contain items like iPods, random accessories and t-shirts, but customers have received more expensive hardware like iPads and even MacBooks in years past.
Supplies are limited, so Apple stores in Japan will definitely have lines of eager customers after New Years.
According to research consultants Counterpoint Research, Apple captured 34% of the 2.8 million Japanese mobile phone sales this September, marking a sizable increase from the estimated 14% seen in both July and August.
The news is even more impressive when, as Counterpoint director Tom Kang notes, “This is the first time any handset brand has crossed the 30% mark in the last decade in one of the most modern digital handset market in the world, Japan.”
We’re still waiting for Tim Cook and Peter Oppenheimer to start today’s earnings call, but now that the closing bell has rung Apple just released its official financial results for Q4 2013. So far the numbers look pretty good with Apple beating analyst estimations for revenue and profit with $37.5 billion and $7.5 billion respectively.
Sorting through the pile of information and numbers Apple just gave us can make your head spin, so we’ve broken it down for you. Here are the most important numbers you need to know from today’s earnings:
Apple fans are dedicated. Every single year, they brave the elements for sometimes weeks at a time, camping out in front of Apple Stores so that they can be first getting their hands on Cupertino’s latest iDevice.
Even by the standards of most Apple launches, though, the guys hanging out in front of Tokyo’s Ginza Apple Store are dedicated. They are braving a frickin’ typhoon to be first in line for the iPhone 5s.
At an event in Japan today, Sony unveiled the new PS Vita TV, a tiny set-top box that will sell for around $95 and look to compete with devices like the Apple TV. Not only will it let you stream content from services like Hulu and Sony’s own Video Unlimited service, but if you connect a DualShock 3 controller, it will also allow you to play PSP and PS Vita games on your TV.
In every country, there’s the holdouts, the also-ran carriers that haven’t inked a deal with Apple and so soldier valiantly on, selling Android and (gasp) Blackberries to their sad clientele. In Japan, this also-ran carrier happens to be the nation’s largest, NTT DoCoMo. But eventually, even the holdouts come around, and shares of NTT DoCoMo are up this morning following reports that Apple is in talks to bring the iPhone to the network.
Just to put the following report in the proper perspective, let’s start out by saying that two months ago — just two days after Apple debuted iOS 7 at WWDC 2013 — we predicted that the iPhone 5S would be released on September 20th later this year, after debuting ten days earlier.
How did we come up with that date? It was easy. We looked at what Apple had done in previous iPhone launches, and then took a look at the calendar for 2013. No soothsaying, no mysterious sources. It was as simple as that.
So when Japan’s largest industry newspaper, Nikkei, starts reporting that Apple will release the iPhone 5S and 5C on (yup) September 20th, you have to ask yourselves. Do they actually know? Or are they just fudging it?