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Japan in love with the iPhone

gadgets Updated: Apr 28, 2014 17:05 IST

Apple's latest flagship phone is still Japan's most popular handset and its biggest selling point isn't its performance or the choice of apps.

In fact, when it comes to choosing an iPhone 5S, the most popular reason Japanese consumers give is its design. According to the latest data from the Kantar World Panel, which constantly polls a global pool of smartphone consumers, 30 percent of Japanese consumers rank design as the iPhone's biggest draw, followed by its 4G/LTE capabilities (29%) and the belief that the handset will be reliable (24%).

Although the iPhone will be celebrating its eighth birthday this year, in Japan the handset is still a relatively new phenomenon. Small networks had been offering iPhones for a number of years, but the country's largest mobile operator, NTT Docomo, only started selling the handset to its customers in November 2013, and one week after doing so, the iPhone -- be it the 5S, 5C or 4S -- set a new record.

According to the BCN weekly chart (the official list of the best-selling handsets across all of the country's mobile networks), following that first week of sales, the iPhone became the first smartphone ever to claim each slot in the top 10 list. In doing so, it pushed the Sony Xperia Z1 into 11th place and also claimed the 12th 16th, 18th, 20th and 28th places in the top 30 list too.

Some five months on, iPhones account for 42 % of smartphone sales on NTT DoCoMo, 59 % on KDDI AU and 81 % on Softbank.

Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, comments: "Japan's love affair with Apple shows no sign of fading. Even though the iPhone has now been available on Japan's largest carrier, NTT DoCoMo, for a number of months Apple still accounts for more than 40 % of sales on the network. The success of the iPhone is also filtering through to the iPad, with almost a quarter of Japanese iPhone owners also owning an iPad. With smartphone penetration in Japan lagging well behind Europe and the US, Japan will remain a key growth market for Apple."

It means that Apple's iOS is currently Japan's most popular operating system with a 57.6 % market share, followed by Android (41.5%), with Windows Phone in a distant, albeit growing, third place with 0.9 % -- up 0.6 % on the last quarter. BlackBerry's market share is recorded as 0.0 %, a 0.7 % drop on last quarter.