Apple still rules in Japan as carriers battle to sell iPhones

Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:39am EDT
 
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By Sophie Knight

TOKYO (Reuters) - Apple Inc's disappointing third quarter was nowhere in evidence in Japan, where sales increased more than 40 percent as the highly anticipated launch of the new iPhone by Japan's biggest mobile firm boosted sales - at rival carriers.

Japan accounted for nearly 10 percent of Apple's global revenue in July-September, its gadget-loving consumers enticed by discounts and cash-backs from carriers under threat as industry leader NTT DoCoMo Inc finally began selling the iPhone after years of foot-dragging.

For Apple, that price competition has helped to cement iPhone's dominance in the market.

"Japan is Apple country," said Serkan Toto, a Tokyo-based technology consultant. "(It) was positioned as a cool gadget to have, not because of its advanced features - it doesn't have a lot of things feature phones have, no e-Wallet, no digital TV tuner - it's a lifestyle product."

The California-based company is considered well placed to extend its lead in Japan over Samsung Electronics, whose Galaxy smartphones dominate in China and Europe, after DoCoMo's entry helped boost the iPhone's share to a record 34 percent in September, according to Counterpoint Technology Marketing Research.

Ironically, DoCoMo was not the main beneficiary - at least not yet - from its leap into the iPhone market.

The carrier's net subscriptions fell 66,800 in September, its biggest monthly loss ever, while rivals KDDI Corp and SoftBank Corp each had net gains of about a quarter of a million, company data showed. The data also showed DoCoMo lost a net 133,100 of its subscribers to rival carriers, while the other two posted net gains.

4-WEEK WAIT FOR GOLD 5S   Continued...

 
Apple's new iPhone 5S is displayed at an Apple shop in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district, September 20, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino