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The market for Apple’s iPhone may turn out to be less than half the size once expected in Japan, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. With worldwide sales of the 3G model approaching 6 million units since its July 11 launch, and at least one analyst predicting total 2008 sales to reach 7 – 8 million units, Japanese consumers may snap up fewer than half a million out of a previously predicted 1 million, writes Journal reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane.
“The iPhone is a difficult phone to use for the Japanese market because there are so many features it doesn’t have,” says Eimei Yokota, an analyst with MM Research. More than 10 domestic handset manufacturers compete for a slice of Japan’s cellphone market, one of the world’s largest with annual sales of 50 million phones. Nokia Corp., the industry leader in global shipments, has less than 1% share in Japan. Instead, Sharp Corp. leads the Japanese market, with about 25% of shipments. Models currently sold by Japanese cellphone makers typically contain a high-end color display, digital TV-viewing capability, satellite navigation service, music player and digital camera. Many models also include chips that let owners use their phones as debit cards or train passes.
While Softbank, Apple’s cellular phone partner in Japan with 19.5 million wireless subscribers, says the iPhone continues to be popular, Yokota, the MM Research analyst, says one small but must-have feature often cited as a deficiency in the iPhone is the lack of “emoji,” clip art that can be inserted in sentences to jazz up emails.
Takuro Hiraoka, an analyst for GfK Marketing Services Japan Ltd., says the problem could be a lack of education. “Japanese users don’t know what to do with an iPhone,” he said. “Sales could grow if Apple provides specific examples of how it can be used.”
2 responses to “iPhone Stumbles in Japan”
I was saying this since the iPhone was announced. The iPhone in Japan is not going to be anything more than a niche player.
People look at my iPhone and say wow cool! But they don’t want it. No emoji, no infra red, no way to easily swap email contacts and no IC chip to pay for all the stuff you can pay with it. (vending machines, train tickets, cafe, fast food, izakaya, etc)
The only way the iPhone will be a blazing success in Japan is if Apple release a J version. Incorporating some of these features. Which of course Apple won’t.
PS I have an iPhone and I love it (and I’m in Japan).