Apple carved out a massive 52.6% of the smartphone market in Japan in the last quarter of 2020. That’s according to the latest figures released by International Data Corporation (IDC), highlighting just how far ahead of the competition Apple is.
In the fourth quarter of the year, Apple reportedly shipped more than 6 million units to Japan, increasing 13.8% year-over-year. The next closest rival, Sharp, shipped only 1.4 million phones for a 12.4% share. Samsung, Apple’s biggest competitor worldwide, managed only 781,000 units for 6.8% of the market.
For the year as a whole, IDC says that Apple was Japan’s most popular phone brand with 46.5% of the market. It shipped a total of 15.637 million handsets for an 8.3% year-over-year growth. This in keeping with other reports, suggesting how popular the iPhone 12 series has proven. The fact that Apple would get a big boost at the end of the year is no surprise, since this is when Apple released its eagerly anticipated, first 5G handsets.
A major turnaround
The amazing thing about Apple’s iPhone success in Japan is how different things are now to the early days. When the iPhone first debuted, the gadget-obsessed Japan was frequently cited as one market where the iPhone had totally failed. “Why the Japanese Hate the iPhone,” screamed Wired in 2009. It opined:
“What’s wrong with the iPhone, from a Japanese perspective? Almost everything: the high monthly data plans that go with it, its paucity of features, the low-quality camera, the unfashionable design and the fact that it’s not Japanese.”
How far things have come since then! The iPhone is more popular in Japan than any other country in the world, even edging out the U.S. in terms of overall marketshare. With a population of 126 million, Japan is only a mid-sized market for Apple. (China, by contrast, has 1.4 billion people.) However, it’s certainly more than shaken off any claims that it was unable to crack the Japanese market.
And as for that comment about the “fact that it’s not Japanese?” It outsells both Sharp and Sony, two of the Japanese brands to appear on the list, by a good margin.