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In tech-savvy Japan, Apple tops Microsoft in brand perception

As the iPhone and iPad gain in popularity in Japan, the company's image is on the rise too, says Nikkei Research.

The iPhone 5S is expected to grow Apple's market share in the Japanese market.
The iPhone 5S is expected to grow Apple's market share in the Japanese market.

Apple has reached the top spot in corporate brand perception for the first time in Japan, as iPhone makes solid gains there, Nikkei said on Wednesday.

Apple saw a "greater willingness of businesspeople to recommend its products," according Nikkei Research.

And the U.S. company continues to rank high in "originality and brand premium," indicating that Japanese businesspeople are willing to pay more for Apple products, the report said.

Apple has boosted its standing in Japan with strong sales of the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5S and 5C are expected to further bolster Apple's position as NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest carrier, begins selling the iPhone for the first time. SoftBank and KDDI (au) already market the iPhone.

Microsoft fell to third place from first in 2012 because fewer businesses stated that they would recommend their products, Nikkei Research said.

Google is also on the rise, jumping to fifth place from eighth.

Google's Android software populates popular smartphones in Japan, such as Samsung's Galaxy products. And the company is raising its profile as a hardware maker with products like the Nexus 7 tablet.

The No. 2 spot went to a Japanese company, Yamato Transport, a home delivery service.

The annual survey reports on how consumers and businesses view corporate brands.