iPhone not selling in Japan

Yukari Kane of the WSJ pops the bubble of the iPhone in Japan.


Apple’s Latest iPhone Sees Slow Japan Sales – WSJ.com

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.

“Japanese users don’t know what to do with an iPhone,” he said. “Sales could grow if Apple provides specific examples of how it can be used.”

It’s interesting to think that Japanese users don’t know what to do with an iPhone. I suspect that is true because Japanese users are accustomed to being inside the walled garden of their carrier, so to have the full Internet is not appreciated or understood. Japanese mobile phones have browsers but they’re basically only used for the walled garden of the carrier.  I have the option of using a “full-browser” on my phone, but it would cost me 1500 yen/mo. or 18000 yen/yr. which I am certainly not willing to pay.

I believe that Roy Amara‘s quote is appropriate here: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” I think that the effect of the iPhone on the global mobile market in the long run, specifically providing a real browser on a mobile phone (note that full-browsers are coming on Android as well as Mobile Firefox), will be the most important legacy of the iPhone.

2 comments on “iPhone not selling in Japan
  1. Marxy says:

    I think the iPhone has spread around enough where a good majority of Japanese phone users have at least seen one and realized how not cutting-edge their own current phones are. Maybe they like the Japanese phone interface culture more, but now they know that the previous standard for UI etc. is pretty outmoded. These articles need to stop pretending like “TV on phones” is something high-tech instead of just a gimmick attached as a way to keep pushing incremental innovation.
    Has anyone heard of the Japanese phone companies even trying to knock off the iPhone?

  2. baron says:

    This reminds me of that wonderful piece you had a while back about how Koreans were locked into Windows and IE because of their government’s crappy security policy or what not. In this case, the bulk of Japanese users are locked in by proprietary “mobairu” market where carriers simply don’t adhere to internet standards and even the “mobairu/keitai” sites themselves depend on a mix of cowboy coding.
    It’s a tangled web but most of the sites wouldn’t give iphone the time of day because it gets recognized rightly as a PC. Even SoftBank has a schizophrenic policy towards the iPhone, despite Son being such a big fan, by giving us a crappy email address that we can’t register for “mobairu” only sites because we don’t have a keitai email (as of now you cannot register a new account with mixi with an iphone email address).
    Most of the Japanese people I know with an iPhone eventually go back to their keitai for primary use after the novelty wears off. I can’t read half the emails I get from girls because they use so much “emoji” so I guess they can kiss the oyaji market good-bye since they can’t correspond with their kyabakura favorites.