Last week you may have read that BlackBerry intends to exit the Japanese market, will not take their BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 terminals to the Japanese market, and therefore the new BlackBerry 10 platform will not step soil of this complicated Asian market. At least in the first months of life.
Thus the average local Nikkei reported it, and although it can be a shocking decision, the Japanese market has always been very different from the rest and must learn to deal with it. Doesn’t seem to be that the new BlackBerry intend to spend forces in a market where is 0.3% of the quota, and localization of products costs are quite high.
While we wait for some sort of official confirmation, we will know a bit the picture that a manufacturer is arriving in Japan, and also how complicated that I have had the Japanese manufacturers to come out with its products outside the country.
Fighting against the Japanese phones feature
By the fact of having a technologically more advanced than the rest of the planet, with devices that covered and evolve according to your needs, were found outside the Empire Nokia, Motorola phones, or subsequent networks BlackBerry, arriving a little late to the current Smartphone revolution, commanded by Android.
Following the trend global, in 2012 was the first year in which sold more Smartphones and watches as we have in our markets, typical Japanese phones. To those phones could call them their “feature phones” (also known as Keitai). But that Japanese basic phone is not the same as European or American, since any one of them could have as many features as a Smartphone.
Therefore, a normal user not seen so attracted by the revolution of the new systems operating, and Yes its operator could offer him, or he was offering was it services since the end of the 1990s.
In the middle of the year past, the proportion of Smartphones with regard to those “feature phones” special era of 20/80, but the first growth is still spectacular, matching the scale, thanks to the updating of the domestic manufacturers, with the adoption of the Android operating system. In the latest figures which are handled, there are about 25 million users of Smartphones, more than 64%, they have with Google’s operating system.
The same statistics found that the iPhone was 32%, and phones with Microsoft operating system, at 3.2%. It will be interesting to have data updated to 2013, or end of 2012, but we believe that the trend is that Android and iPhone have continued eating the cake, according to the offer of the main operators in the country.
* Update *, we never had to wait too long, and this morning we have a report by Counterpoint Research, where we gather that Apple, as a brand, dominated the market from the Japanese Smartphone in 2012. Its market share was 15%, taking into account all types of phones. Fujitsu and Sharp (who had been six years leading) moved at 14% each.
Operators are too powerful
If you add the sales of all kinds of telephones, in the past six years Sharp ended seasons as leader in the Japanese market, but in the list we find that it is followed by the names of Panasonic or Fujitsu, and we had to pass several local names (NEC, Casio, Sony…) before finding Samsung, HTC or Apple (this year have given back to the tortilla).
The Japanese have love for their brands, and in regards to operators, have highly respected institutions such as DoCoMo, at the forefront of mobile services and network technology. The fourth-generation networks is being used by the operators, in the case of DoCoMo, approaches the 10 million users.
In terms of terminals, currently all offer high-end Androids mainly local brands, while the first iPhone that is actually selling well is the 4S (also available 5), which last year began to offer it AU and Softbank (former Vodafone Japan/KK). Curiously DoCoMo does not have it in their catalog.
The iPhone case deserves a separate chapter. Or the 3G, not 3GS, got an important niche, people wanted to tuning TV and be able to buy the phone, among other functionalities accommodated on their phones for years.
Fortunately began to get more applications of the Japanese taste, and with the iPhone 4S, we can already speak of success in sales. According to the latest data by Counterpoint Research, Apple dominated the Smartphone market share in 2012 with a 15% (16% in the last quarter).
What is clear is that the three big operators want people to buy Smartphones, and offer data plans (with unlimited voice) in the style of we have for Western markets. If we are talking about Android, Smartphones have the same base as ours, but are more bold in design, value the water resistance, and are equipped with last generation cameras. Operators continue to have the same control in its conception that years ago.
According to the polls, the main use which the Japanese give to their terminals (all categories) is the for photos, more than 60% of its users do so. Followed by management and reading electronic mail (56%), and applications (55%).
The Galapagos syndrome
Every year we are checking as Japan is becoming less a benchmark of consumer electronics, exporting less products. Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese companies have been introducing in our culture with cheaper and more innovative products.
Foreign brands are gaining ground
The most important moment that lived Japanese phones can place it in 1999 and subsequent years, with the development of the Internet on the mobile phone through NTT DoCoMo i-Mode. With him was opened the doors of the mobile payment.
In phones to manufacturers and operators offered, I could watch TV, make payments, share information wirelessly, and had excellent cameras. It is impossible to assess the work of the manufacturers without taking into account that one of the three main carriers. Products used to make side by side, and it was one of the reasons why not looked beyond the Japanese market.
If you have the best phones, years before the rest, why not work outside Japan? The Government, together with major manufacturers came to form a Committee (Galapagos syndrome) to study the situation.
Mainly you find two causes: the phones were specially designed for Japan, and the operators had too much control over them. In this specialization, smartphones with iOS and Android were cooked, could accommodate any market, even the Japanese.
The Japanese companies try to react
When the iPhone appeared on the world stage, back in 2007 (accompanied shortly after Android), none of the large Japanese companies thought that it was a threat. The reality is that they did not feel in danger, but five years later, Sharp and Sony, among others, desperately looking to the way of regaining his place, slowly conquered by Samsung terminals and the aforementioned iPhones. Japanese companies it bothers them likewise exceeding them in sales, as in technology.
It is curious to see how companies that are eternal rivals have already taken the decision to work together on projects making them more competitive, technologically speaking with respect to Koreans and Chinese. Recently we inform you of the creation of Japan Display, formed by Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba.
For some of them also presents the option of outside Japan. Sony is clearly the more global company, with possibilities of planting at the top of the ranking of vendors, other as Sharp they put their efforts in China.
A case of how complicated it is for them to get out of Japan, have it recently with Panasonic, organized its return to the European market, with phones as interesting as in the family Eluga, but good at first decided not to take them in our market.
We have tried to understand how it moves the mobile telephony market in Japan, in a transition towards Android, with an important presence iPhone, and great control by the operators. Back to the introduction of the article, if 10 BlackBerry or Windows Phone have it complicated to get your website at the global level, the Japan scenario paints rather more difficult for new adventures, and we can understand the position of BlackBerry.