The iPhone’s popularity in Japan just keeps growing. Apple’s handset has grabbed 72 percent of the smartphone market on the gadget-obsessed island nation.The Cupertino, Calif. company has doubled its shipments to Japan, hitting 2.3 million all together, according to Tokyo-based researchers.
The iPhone, which began Japanese sales in July 2008, shipped 1.69 million handsets during the fiscal year ended March 31, MM Research Institute Ltd. announced Thursday. Some 3 million smartphones could sell in Japan during the year started April 1, reports say.
HTC, known for its Android-based smartphones ranks the second-most popular handset in Japan, with 11 percent of the country, followed by Toshiba’s 6.8 percent for third place, the analyst firm said.
Masayoshi Son, the head of Softbank, Japan’s exclusive iPhone carrier, in February said skeptics who felt the iPhone would not be accepted by the country’s consumers “have been proven completely wrong.” “The iPhone is selling so well that we are really feeling a boost from it.”
The iPhone’s increased market share comes on the leading edge of a shift toward smartphones and away from regular cell phones. Softbank, along with NTT DoCoMo and KDDI now or will soon offer Android-based phones as data plans become more popular.
Softbank has aggressively marketed the iPhone to Japanese cell phone owners. Tactics have included nearly round-the-clock television commercials, print ads and pricing (such as a free 16GB iPhone with a two-year commitment.)
In late 2009, Apple’s two smartphones – the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS – held a combined 46 percent of the Japanese market. Taking both first and second place in Japanese smartphone sales, Apple unseated Sharp’s W-ZERO3, which had been the top-selling smartphone in 2008. The iPhone’s introduction cut Sharp handset market in half, to 14.6 percent, down from 26.8 percent, according to Japan research firm Impress.
Japan has become the iPhone’s top market outside of the U.S., according to research firm AdMob. In 2009, Apple saw a 350 percent increase in Japanese iPhone sales, the firm said.