Citing a myriad reasons from marketing and usability to the lack of features common in Japanese phones, the WSJ is reporting that the iPhone is a bit of dud in Japan.
According to market-research firm MM Research Institute, Apple sold about 200,000 phones in Japan in the first two months. Since then, however, demand has been falling steadily, and analysts now widely believe sales are unlikely to reach a total of 500,000 units. That is half the one million units that they previously thought Apple could sell. One big challenge is that Japanese users already have access to some of the most advanced mobile-phone technologies in the world. Models currently sold by Japanese cellphone makers typically contain a high-end color display, digital TV-viewing capability, satellite navigation service, music player and digital camera. Many models also include chips that let owners use their phones as debit cards or train passes. Noriko Tanaka, a 34-year-old Softbank customer in Tokyo, said she likes the iPhone's touch screen, but would prefer a phone with digital television capability. "The touch screen looks fun, but I'm not sure I could get used to it," said Ms. Tanaka.
After visiting Japan a number of times and seeing both the features available and the way that people use their phones, I'm not that surprised. People use their mobile devices in very different ways than we do in the U.S.
Just a few months ago, a survey suggested that the iPhone would crush the Blackberry. It probably does, but no non-Japanese mobile device has nearly the market share of the 10 domestic manufacturers. Nokia has only 1 percent, while Sharp has 25 percent in Japan.