Despite a slow month of sales globally, Apple continued to double its market share in several of its major launch countries for its iPhone 5s & 5c in September 2013. This will help Apple end its traditionally weak third quarter on a relatively higher note.

According to Counterpoint Research, in one of the premium and important global markets, Japan, Apple’s share jumped to a record 34% during the month of September.

Figure 1: Apple’s Share1 in the Japanese Handset Market

 Counterpoint Research - Apple 34 Percent Share in Japan in Sep 2013

 

Source: Monthly Market Pulse September 2013
1 Mobile Phones Sales only (not shipments). Tablets, PCs, dongles, fixed wireless devices not included
 
Commenting on this performance, Counterpoint’s Director Tom Kang notes, “This is the first time any handset brand has crossed the 30% mark during the last decade in Japan.”

Mr. Kang, further added, “Japan has always been a competitive market with more than ten handset brands being tightly controlled by the three major mobile operators, thus making it impossible for a single brand to capture a record one-third of the market. Even Sharp, after ruling the Japanese mobile handset market for almost 5 years had only reached 26% share during its peak. But Apple has surpassed this and it’s a noteworthy feat signifying the growing clout for the Cupertino manufacturer in this tough market”.

Counterpoint’s Director Neil Shah explained on how Apple achieved this feat, “Apple’s newly launched iPhone 5S became the bestselling phone of Japan in September generating almost half a million units in sales in just a few days. Apple mainly benefited from expanding its channels to Japan’s number one mobile operator NTT docomo and thus instantly gaining access to a base of more than 60 million mobile subscribers. It took Apple iPhone almost 5 years to hit Docomo’s shelves since the first iPhone launch in Japan in the summer of 2008.”

Mr. Shah, further added, “It will be interesting to see how iPhone performs at NTT docomo. It will test the operator’s 20 million+ strong Android subscriber base on how quickly they will jump ship for an iPhone after using an Android smartphone for 3 years. This will prove if Android has enough value proposition to truly lock-in its user base and conversely if Apple has enough brand equity to consistently chip away this seasoned Android user base.”

Japan’s mobile phone market looks completely different from few years ago as foreign brands are dominating and pushing the once leading domestic brands under the rock. Foreign brands such as Apple, Samsung, LG & others together now control almost half of the mobile handset market from less than a fifth of the market three years ago. Meanwhile, domestic vendors such as Fujitsu, Sharp and Sony are fighting extremely hard with Apple and within themselves to capture market share.

Apple is on the verge of replicating its dominance in Japan market similar to what it is enjoying in its home market USA. This is possible due to expanded distribution channels as well as commanding higher subsidies (selling power) for the iPhones in these operator driven premium mobile phone markets.

 

Methodology:

Our Monthly Market Pulse market share data is based on sell-through (sales) surveyed at major mass retailers, distributors across different markets by Counterpoint Research team plus sanity checked with demand side surveys & expert Analyst estimates.
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Background:
Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm based out of Asia specializing in Technology products in the TMT industry. It services major technology firms and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analysis of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are experts in the industry with an average tenure of 13 years in the high tech industry.
 

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About Author

Neil is a sought-after frequently-quoted Industry Analyst with a wide spectrum of rich multifunctional experience. He is a knowledgeable, adept, and accomplished strategist. In the last 11 years he has offered expert strategic advice that has been highly regarded across different industries especially in telecom. Prior to Counterpoint, Neil worked at Strategy Analytics as a Senior Analyst (Telecom). Neil also had an opportunity to work with Philips Electronics in multiple roles. He is also an IEEE Certified Wireless Professional with a Master of Science (Telecommunications & Business) from the University of Maryland, College Park, USA.