With Apple enjoying a strong market share in Japan the nation has become Cupertino’s fastest-growing market, far outpacing China.
Three of Japan’s largest mobile carriers offer the iPhone, which has mainly propelled Apple’s success in the Japanese market. These telephone companies provide rich subsidies, meaning customers only pay a lower upfront fee.
The iPhone’s dominant market share is also said to be due in part to Apple’s brand positioning, which the publication places in the same tier as luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Burberry.
“Apple’s brand is just overwhelming here,” Eiji Mori, an analyst with Tokyo-based BCN Inc told the Wall Street Journal. When Japanese consumers choose a new mobile phone “the choice is not about specifications. It’s not about rationale. It’s about owning an iPhone.”
Apple’s iPad has a 50% share in the Japanese market, according to MM Research, which is a demonstration of the premium brand’s strength in the international market.
DoCoMo, as the last major Japanese operator to offer the new iPhones, is aggressively discounting new models to lure users from rivals KDDI Corp and SoftBank Corp.
All three companies now offer the standard iPhone 5S at no upfront cost to customers.
Analysts forecast that Apple will sell 11 to 12 million iPhones in Japan in 2013, roughly double from an estimated five to six million in 2012.
Timothy Arcuri, a managing director at Cowen & Co said that the figure will grow to about 20 million iPhones next year.
“They’re going to be close to 50% market share next year” in Japan, Arcuri said.
Japan is an unlikely market for the Cupertino-based company, a country where foreign firms face fierce competition with domestic companies.
By Maesie Bertumen