In their recent Country Market Share Report for Q4 2012, Counterpoint Research finds that Apple’s iPhone shipments have taken over the market share lead in Japan.

- Apple took 16% market share in the fourth quarter of 2012 and 15% for the full year of 2012, reaching the No. 1 spot for the first time in annual terms. Apple has been No. 1 in Japan since November of last year.

- Other foreign brands such as Samsung and LG also increased share in Q4 and theire combined share exceeded 50%. Counterpoint Research says that “Japan is no longer a Galapagos Island as global brands start to dominate.”

Traditional local champions Sharp and Fujitsu each took 14% of the market in 2012. Apple ended Sharp’s 6 year reign last year as it took the crown. Apple had already temporarily displaced Sharp in Q4 2011 but Sharp soon took back the No. 1 spot for the first half of 2012. For the full year of 2012 it was a close call between the three top players in Japan, but Apple rose to supremacy when all was said and done.

In 2012 both Softbank and KDDI heavily promoted the new iPhone 5 to challenge Docomo. This move sparked a battle of smartphones in which Docomo fought back with various new smartphone models, the majority of which were also foreign-branded. So, yet again, operator competition in Japan has catalyzed the iPhone’s success, but at the expense of Japanese firms. In Q4 2012, Apple, Samsung and LG took 50% of the handset market in Japan. Chinese Brands like Huawei saw sales jump three fold in a short period.

Counterpoint Research analysts comment that Japan was once considered to be like a Galapagos Island, an isolated terrain, in terms of mobile technology. It had its own unique digital cellular technology. It was far more advanced than any market in the world and it seemed nearly impossible for any foreign technology company to penetrate the market. Motorola had failed and Nokia had failed. The iPhone and the subsequent wave of Android smartphones have changed the situation now and it looks like the Japanese market is a market that can be transformed after all.

More more information, please contact info@counterpointresearch.com

Source: Counterpoint Research

MacDailyNews Take: You know, because iPhone 5 sales “haven’t been as strong as anticipated,” not to mention that “the Japanese hate the iPhone“.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers "Sarah" and "Dan K." for the heads up.]

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