“The Japanese were using their cellphones to watch TV, navigate with GPS, download music, make movies, pay bills, and check their emails years before American consumers were doing the same. Japan also had touch screen phones 8 years earlier than iPhone — the Pioneer J-PE01,” Michael Fitzpatrick reports for Fortune. “And yet it is no surprise that Apple’s iPhone was the best-selling phone in Japan last year. After over a decade of trouncing any foreign handset looks and talent wise, Japan’s legendary ‘ketai’ are been given the heave-ho in favor of foreign models.”

“According to IDC Japan, the iPhone was number one best seller for 2012 in both handsets and smartphones. Quite a feat for a phone that the country’s ketai-watchers and industry leaders said would fall at the start,” Fitzpatrick reports. “Apple now has 15% market share putting it ahead of Japan’s Sharp and Fujitsu who both enjoy 14% of the market according to IDC. Japan’s top mobile provider, NTT Docomo, which does not carry the iPhone, hit back by promoting mostly foreign-made smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy.”

“What happened? Japanese mobile phone guru Nobuyuki Hayashi believes there are three main reasons Japan has fallen out of love with its own handset makers,” Fitzpatrick reports. “First, he says, you have to understand what a colossal and unexpected hit the iPhone was with Japanese women.”

Read more in the full article here.