Historically, Japan has been a tough place for phone manufacturers to gain any traction. It was always seen as being an isolated island where technology was so far ahead of what the West was using, to attempt to break that market was seen as foolish.
That said, Apple partnered with Softbank, and launched. The following for Apple’s iPhone in the country is so large now, that it’s generally always among the first group of countries to get a new iDevice on launch day. 2012′s results are evidence of that success.
Counterpoint Research as done some analysis of the market, and discovered that Apple was the most popular phone manufacturer in Japan over 2012. Not just smartphones, mobile phones in general.
Thanks to a great end of year launch for the iPhone 5, Apple finished with 15% of the entire mobile market. The usual suspects, Sharp and Fujitsu, were just behind, each with around 14% of the market. Before Apple’s success, Sharp had been Japan’s top manufacturer for the past 6 years on the trot.
It appears the Japanese market is shifting in favor of the iPhone. It’ll be interesting to see how other manufacturers respond.