Apple's iPhone still tops Japan, but discounts give Sony a big boost

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple's iPhone may hold the top spot among smartphones in the Japanese market, but a recent push by Sony and a major carrier has its Xperia handsets rushing up the sales charts.

iphone 4s
Sony's Xperia Z and Apple's iPhone 5. Image via Gizmag


In the first quarter of 2013, Apple's iPhone accounted for nearly 40 percent of all Japanese smartphone sales, according to market research firm IDC. Sony over the same period accounted for 13.3 percent of smartphone sales in its home market.

A BCN report released on the same day, though, found that the last four weeks have seen a reversal in Sony's fortunes, according to Bloomberg. Tokyo-based BCN, which relies on sales figures from more than 2,000 retail outlets, found that Sony smartphones represented 36 percent of shipments in the past month, with Apple's share dropping to 25 percent over the same period.

In the week beginning May 6, BCN measured Apple's share of the Japanese market at over 40 percent. At the same point, Sony held just 14 percent of sales.

Sony's sales boost is due in large part to a promotion from NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest wireless carrier with more than 60 million subscribers ? almost half the population of Japan. DoCoMo, looking to cut costs, is only offering promotions and discounts for two manufacturers' devices: Sony's Xperia line and Samsung's Galaxy S4.

At the same time, NTT DoCoMo does not carry Apple's iPhone. While it is the nation's largest carrier, it is the only one in Japan that doesn't carry Apple's bestselling handset. DoCoMo and Apple are at odds over the carrier's policy of preinstalling software on smartphones, which Apple doesn't allow its carrier partners to do.

The carrier blamed the lack of an iPhone option for a net loss of 40,800 subscribers last November. In January, DoCoMo president Katoru Kato said the carrier would be willing to negotiate with Apple in order to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Aside from the DoCoMo promotion, the rise of the Xperia brand is due to its own merits. The Android-powered handset is both powerful and light, and its design and build quality have received positive reviews. Additionally, Sony designed its flagship Xperia Z model to be both waterproof and dust-proof, a feature that appeals to Japanese consumers.

Sony's Japanese rise has also come at the expense of Samsung, the world's overall smartphone sales leader. Samsung's share of the Japanese market has been slipping, according to BCN, and the South Korean conglomerate's smartphones fell to just 13 percent of sales in the week starting June 3.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Can't remember the last time I saw a Sony smartphone that wasn't a prop in a movie.
  • Reply 2 of 18
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Yeah, what I found surprising is a lot of Japanese celebrities are using iPhone. And by a lot i mean almost everyone i know. Also all those are addicted to twitter.
  • Reply 3 of 18


    Wow, it was'nt too long ago we were reading articles on how difficult it would be for Apple to break into the Japanese market...something about they were all using their phones for watching TV, paying for the train tickets, etc.


     


     


    P.S. Good for Apple for not allowing DoCoMo to put crapware on the iPhone. Stupid DoCoMo. Losing a lot of business by not having the iPhone.

  • Reply 4 of 18
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    Sony who?
  • Reply 5 of 18
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,885member


    I've seen the new Sony phones at the Sony Store...they actually look pretty cool. If it ran iOS, I'd love to have one. 

  • Reply 6 of 18
    19831983 Posts: 1,172member
    Nice to see a market where Samsung is in decline for once, instead of taking over - like where I live! The Japanese have good taste like Zen Buddhist (which is Japanese) Steve R.I.P had.
  • Reply 7 of 18
    bizzarebizzare Posts: 62member
    Real bad news for Samsung.
  • Reply 8 of 18
    512ke512ke Posts: 782member


    I'm an iPhone user but I have to say, those Sony phones look great.


     


    And they run the exact same operation system and apps as Samsung's offerings.


     


    Sony might be one ad campaign from eating into Samsung's market share.

  • Reply 9 of 18
    baka-dubbsbaka-dubbs Posts: 107member
    The one thing I like about Sony phones at this time is that they made a water poof/resistant phone that doesn't look like a big plastic toy. As someone who as lost a phone from being pushed into a pool, I hope it becomes a more common feature accross the board.
  • Reply 10 of 18


    They make $5 billion a year so guess they have too much at lose to risk allocating part of that to Apple. In Europe the networks are running crying to the authorities due to their own dumb contract decision making.

  • Reply 11 of 18
    gwmacgwmac Posts: 1,797member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 1983 View Post



    Nice to see a market where Samsung is in decline for once, instead of taking over - like where I live! The Japanese have good taste like Zen Buddhist (which is Japanese) Steve R.I.P had.


    This has a lot to do with the Japan & S. Korea rivalry which for some is more like hate than rivalry. This goes all the way back to WWII and earlier since Korea was a Japanese colony and most comfort women were Korean. 

  • Reply 12 of 18
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    macxpress wrote: »
    I've seen the new Sony phones at the Sony Store...they actually look pretty cool. If it ran iOS, I'd love to have one. 

    Sony get design. Sony get hardware.

    Unfortunately, their software creation skills are among the worst I have ever seen (for a professional company) and they have a relatively long history of treating customers with contempt. Fear of piracy has also severely crippled their potential in the last fifteen or so years.

    I'd love to see them learn from Apple's example and become great again.
  • Reply 13 of 18


    Statcounter shows iOS is growing in Japan relative to everyone else.  Perhaps the fact that BCN ignores Apple Store iPhone sales is part of their problem in estimating market share.

  • Reply 14 of 18
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,587member
    These research companies are so full of bullshit! Apple online sales and their own retail store sales are not in the numbers making the report on market share pretty useless.
  • Reply 15 of 18
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member
    matrix07 wrote: »
    Yeah, what I found surprising is a lot of Japanese celebrities are using iPhone. And by a lot i mean almost everyone i know. Also all those are addicted to twitter.

    You're implying everyone you know is a Japanese celeb. You don't know a single muggle, Japanese or otherwise?
  • Reply 16 of 18
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member
    gtr wrote: »
    Sony get design. Sony get hardware.

    Unfortunately, their software creation skills are among the worst I have ever seen (for a professional company) and they have a relatively long history of treating customers with contempt. Fear of piracy has also severely crippled their potential in the last fifteen or so years.

    I'd love to see them learn from Apple's example and become great again.

    Japanese companies do have a history of not mastering software. This was once attributed to lack of mastery of English. But the high number of Chinese and Russian developers disputes that theory.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member
    If and when NTT gets into bed with Apple, iPhone dominance in Japan may become greater than any market. What makes their marketing particularly effective there?
  • Reply 18 of 18
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post



    If and when NTT gets into bed with Apple, iPhone dominance in Japan may become greater than any market. What makes their marketing particularly effective there?


     


    Price initially, and then more localization.


     


    For the first couple of years, the iPhone barely sold in Japan.  It was only 3% of Softbank sales.


     


    Then around 2010 they started offering it basically for free with a contract, and the consumer adoption rate took off.  


     


    Apple also made Japanese a priority with Siri, and that seemed to help.

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