iPhone 2009 Takes 4.9% Share In Japan

MM Research Institute Ltd. announced their research on Japanese cellphone shipment share in year 2009 [J].

Sharp, Panasonic Mobile, Fujitsu, NEC, Kyocera, Sony-Ericsson, Apple, Toshiba, Casio, LG and others

2008 market share by the same MM Research was here [J],

Sharp, Panasonic Mobile, NEC, Fujitsu, Sony-Ericsson, Toshiba and others

As always, English media like Bloomberg already reportedApple Captured 72% of Japan Smartphone Market in 2009. There, “only the smartphone” share was picked up and said Apple got 72% of Japan, without telling what smartphone means here in Japan.

The definition of “smartphone” is vague even among Japanese. Japanese Wikipedia [J] says that smartphone means that the phone has any of these operating system; “Symbian OS, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, iPhone OS, Android, BlackBerry OS, Palm OS and Palm WebOS”. That is, all non-Japanese OS.

Apple built up their 4.9% share in few years is a great achievement in this crookedly-evolved competitive cellphone market, even though it was initially supported by loyal users of Macintosh and iPod, both had succeeded more than world average in Japan, and exclusive partner Softbank Mobile’s aggressive “Substantially Free” campaign, which is now being extended over a year.

But honestly, I dislike English media repeat posting “latest iPhone domination in Japan” news with misleading number, which should not be good also for serious foreign companies who are thinking how they should go into Japanese mobile market. You must support Japanese cellphone… yet.

See Also:

Half Of Japanese Male iPhone Users Keep Their Japanese Cellphone

If iPhone Were No.1 in Japan, Sony Would Be No.1 Music Player

Glad To Hear That iPhone Is No.1 In Japan Again And Again

iPhone’s “Big success in Japan” is on hype in English websphere, again.

My comment for that is “Google Translate sucks”, at least for this kind of research.

What does “No.1 smartphone” mean in Japan?

In Japan, “smartphone” is a cellphone category which does not support common Japanese cellphone features, especially accessibility to three major carriers’ official websites networks. Many phones from Willcom (No.4 carrier, though they have their own official network) are the typical smartphone before iPhone.

It’s not about a screen resolution, as recent Japanese cellphones have 800×480 pixels.

Roughly speaking, you may say “No.1 smartphone” is “No.1 foreign-OS-based cellphone”, Gizmodo.

So how much is the “smartphone” share among all cellphones?

Your favorite research company BCN told that the smartphone share jumped this year from 2.2% (Jan. 2009) to 12.5% (Jul. 2009).

BCN ranking does not include sales at carrier’s shop so not really accurate. But that increased share must be achieved mostly by iPhone. If you trust both BCN and impress(talk later) numbers, iPhone share among all cellphone is 0.125 x 0.461 = 5.76%. Not a bad number but it might have not caused sensation on those big blogs.

What Engadget points out seems more likely for me.

Does iPhone really take 46.1% share among those non-Japanese cellphones?

Misleading. That research is nothing about sales. The Impress’s research was just a questionnaire against PC users. They got 8,805 participants from their news site/e-mail readers on PC, and 2,886 of them are smartphone users and their answers were used for the “share”. So it counts no mobile-only and mobile-centric users, who are said bigger than PC internet users in Japan.

The question was “Which smartphone do you use the most?”. So Impress seemed to give a list of smartphone on the questionnaire.

# high smartphone owner ratio (2,886/8,805) may be because many tech-savvy people owns smartphone as their second cellphone.

Against whom iPhone is winning?

Not against Blackberry, Windows Mobile or Android. If you want to name a loser, it is Willcom, No.4 cellphone carrier on PHS network.

Blackberry and Android were not here in Japan before and Docomo is not so eager to promote them, as Docomo does not have much incentive to destruct their own eco-system, long lasting app/contents store which charge directly on top of your phone bill (Docomo is planning to have their own Android App Store).

How many iPhone units have been sold in Japan?

No official numbers from Apple or Softbank Mobile.

As CrunchGear introduced, iPhone unofficial evangelist Nobuyuki Hayashi(@nobi) tweeted it is 3 million by his original research and his three different undisclosed sources support it.

Softbank Mobile has been extending intensive free iPhone campaign. That plan is not really “free” but initial cost being very low attracts some kind of people, resulting the No. 3 carrier keep getting the No.1 position on number of increased users for months.

Google inflates Search Market Share versus Yahoo! Japan

Yahoo! Japan


Google Japan’s year-end announcement on Dec 22nd, 2008 shocked the industry, when they loudly proclaimed that their search market share had reached 41%, which is only 3 points behind the 44% of Japanese portal giant Yahoo! Japan, using data from Nielsen/NetRatings (report on @IT [J]).

The news raised some eyebrows because no such indications had been observed elsewhere, though Google seems to be incrementally increasing their share in recent years, and collaboration with the #1 and #2 cellphone carriers (NTT Docomo and KDDI/au, respectively) gives Google some power to strike back at Yahoo in the mobile search market (N.B. NetRatings’ statistics do not include mobile data).

Then, a month later, the same Nielsen/NetRatings’ newsletter showed totally different, but rather familiar, numbers: Yahoo! 52.5% vs. Google 38.1%. (*1) (*2)

In the newsletter, they acknowledged this discrepancy, and explained how the two totally different results came from the same data source. Yes, NetRatings.

According to the newsletter, the number which Google announced, might have been taken from the “Channel Search/Search Category”. In these stats, all of the top page views on search sites like Google, Ask.jp and Baidu are counted as “search” activities. However, for portal sites like Yahoo! and MSN, top page views are excluded because their top pages are also used by non-search users.

But Google Japan, which is different from the U.S. Google, has some portal-like features including Gmail/YouTube links. And of course, many people perform searches from Yahoo! Japan’s top page. So this “search”/”portal” distinction makes little sense.

The newsletter alternatively suggested that search “results” page views be counted, which leads to percentages of 52.5% vs. 38.1%.

@IT (Atmark IT), the original source of Google’s big news, and a popular online IT news media website, admitted that they did not confirm Nielsen/NetRatings’ figures and reported only what Google Japan had announced. They also followed up with NetRatings’ statement that “Google’s announcement had not been checked by NetRatings, which is normally required when their data is used for public release, and the numbers include some unfair interpretation.”

(*1) The newsletter only shows the top 10 search engine players. SEM Bar blogger Kuroyagi totalled the top 10’s access data for all the search page views. So if you include unknown small players ranked lower than 11th place, both Yahoo’s and Google’s share would be a bit lower than the real number, but it should not make a big difference.

(*2) ComScore, a competitor of Nielsen/NetRatings, showed similar numbers: Yahoo! 51.2% vs. Google 39.0% in September 2008 [J]

See Also:

Real Search Share of Yahoo! Japan and Google – SEM Bar [J]

Google’s search share report was misleading – Insight for WebAnalytics [J]