The Android operating system may be leading the smartphone charge in Japan, but demand for the iPhone means that Apple is now the country's biggest handset vendor, supplanting local companies like Sharp and Sony for the first time.
Despite being associated with the cutting edge of technological change and futuristic gadgets and gizmos, Japanese consumers have been very slow to adopt smartphones, preferring their ‘smart' clamshell feature phones with operator-specific functions and operating systems.
The changeover from feature to smartphones started in earnest in 2012. According to comScore, between February and August of last year, smartphone ownership in the country grew from 19.3 million to 24 million handsets, with Android accounting for 64.1% of the market.
However, data from Counterpoint Research published this week shows that over the past 12 months Apple has taken 15% of the country's smartphone market and today accounts for 16%, making the iPhone Japan's most popular smartphone and pushing Sharp into second place and Fujitsu into third place for the first time.
And though the iPhone is the most popular handset, it has been the truly global nature of Android as an operating system and the choice of handsets available that have really brought the Japanese smartphone market to life. The past 12 months have seen Samsung, LG, HTC and Huawei make market gains in the country, all at the expense of local handset makers such as Sony.
Despite this growing appetite for smartphones, BlackBerry recently announced that it would be withdrawing from the Japanese market as the firm believes it would not be able to gain a great enough market share to cover its operating and marketing costs.