BlackBerry set to exit Japan

BlackBerry set to exit Japan

08 FEB 2013

BlackBerry is pulling out of the Japanese market, with no plans to release devices there powered by its new BlackBerry 10 platform, according to reports originating from local business paper Nikkei.

It was suggested that with the company’s Japanese market share having slipped to 0.3 per cent, from a high of 5 per cent, it was judged too expensive to create devices tailored to the market.

The Wall Street Journal published a comment from BlackBerry, which noted that “Japan is not a major market for BlackBerry and we have no plans to launch BlackBerry 10 devices there at this time”.

In 2006, BlackBerry – or RIM as it was then known – announced a deal to offer devices in Japan in partnership with market-leading operator NTT DoCoMo.

It is not the only well-known device maker to have opted not to play in the competitive Japanese market, with Nokia and Motorola having previously offered devices in the country to little avail.

Indeed, these companies attempted to gain a foothold in the market at a time when it was dominated by local vendors, such as Sharp, Sony (Ericsson), Fujitsu, Toshiba, Panasonic and NEC.

However, in recent years some overseas vendors have managed to build their presence in the Japanese market, aided by growth of the country’s smartphone market.

Among the overseas vendors active are Apple, Samsung, HTC and LG Electronics.

What this means is that the market is fiercely competitive, and while despite being technologically advanced, the size of the opportunity is contained.

With the need to tailor devices specifically to the market – including local content needs as well as supporting the Japanese language – the costs incurred are significant, while the potential upside is uncertain at best.


Steve Costello

Steve works across all of Mobile World Live’s channels and played a lead role in the launch and ongoing success of our apps and devices services. He has been a journalist...More

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