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Apple tops Japanese smartphone market for first time

The historically anti-foreign Japanese cell phone market has finally given way to the iPhone as consumers buy more Apple-made devices than any other manufacturer.

Joe Aimonetti MacFixIt Editor
Joe is a seasoned Mac veteran with years of experience on the platform. He reports on Macs, iPods, iPhones and anything else Apple sells. He even has worked in Apple retail stores. He's also a creative professional who knows how to use a Mac to get the job done.
Joe Aimonetti
2 min read


As news of Apple's monster holiday season quarter continues to filter in though various lenses, one is particularly striking. Specifically, Apple now sits atop the Japanese cell phone market, shipping more iPhone units than its competitors in Japan.

The steady rise in popularity is attributed to the success of the iPhone 4S, pushing Apple to 26.6 percent of mobile phone shipments, according to research firm IDC (via The Mainichi Daily News). Falling way behind is Fujitsu, at 18.3 percent and Sharp at 15.7 percent.

Smartphones accounted for nearly 65 percent of all cell phones shipped in Japan in 2011.

The move to Apple's iPhone is in sharp contrast to many popular views when the iPhone made its Japanese debut back in 2008. At the time, pundits believed that Apple would not be able to make inroads in one of the tightest (and most localized) cell phone markets in the world.

In 2009, Wired published a widely criticized article, "Why the Japanese hate the iPhone," which has now been updated several times, with apologies from the editor.

Apple has been fighting (and apparently winning) an uphill battle as the iPhone has yet to be adopted by DoCoMo, Japan's largest wireless carrier, which announced today that it has about 60 million users, nearly half of Japan's 122 million mobile subscribers.

Apple is currently available on KDDI and Softbank in Japan.

If Apple were to strike a deal with DoCoMo, the sky would be the limit for the iPhone's adoption in Japan. The only question left seems to be, when will it happen?