UBS analysts estimate that only 200 000 iPhone 3G phones have been sold in Japan since July, and that sales have dramatically slowed down, such that total sales for 2008 are only expected to be 350 000, much less than the estimated one million. While the iPhone’s music and internet functionality was quite good, it lacks many features Japanese users take for granted, such as barcode scanners, 1-Seg mobile TV and mobile-phone based e-wallets. In addition Japanese users already take music and internet functionality for granted on their mobile phones. Low battery life issues have also not done the handset any favours.
The relative failure of the iPhone in Japan has caused NTT Docomo to turn to their mainstay of smartphone users, the business market, and here Windows Mobile has been particularly strong. HTC has also recently entered the smartphone market in Japan, and the sale of their devices have been particularly beneficialÂ to e-Monster. In addition Sharp, who has a reputation for making easy to use devices, have been making advanced handsets for Wilcomm on the PHS network, and Samsung is set to bring the Omnia, with much more functionality than the iPhone 3G, to the Japanese market soon too. In addition Willcom is expected to release a smartphone using KDDI’s new 20 Mb/sec WIMAX network.
Unless the iPhone raises its game to the level of functionality expected in more advanced markets like Japan they may lost thoese very same markets to more flexible and functional devices from other manufacturers, many using Windows Mobile.