Figures from research firm Strategy Analytics showed that Samsung has landed a place in the top four handset makers in Japan for the first time, aided by the growth of smartphones in the country. The South Korean vendor’s Galaxy S smartphone (pictured) also outsold Apple’s iPhone in the fourth quarter of 2011, driven by sales through number-one operator NTT Docomo – the iPhone is available from number three player SoftBank. Tom Kang, director of the Handset Country Share Tracker for Strategy Analytics, noted: “The Japanese market had always been tough to crack for foreign vendors as all previous attempts had failed. With smartphones, things are changing rapidly. First, Apple shook up the market with the iPhone, and now, for the first time, Samsung is shipping more handsets than most local vendors, such as NEC, Casio and Kyocera.”
Traditionally, the Japanese market is dominated by domestic vendors such as Sharp, Panasonic and Fujitsu, which produce products specifically targeting the domestic market, unlike the Galaxy S and iPhone which are international units. Numerous international vendors have attempted to crack the market, including global handset leader Nokia, to no avail. With the growth of smartphones in the country, including the growing popularity of Android devices, there is more of an opportunity for the global handset vendors. NTT Docomo, for example, recently added nine new smartphones to its range, including devices from LG Electronics, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and RIM. But the domestic vendors have not thrown in the towel: Docomo’s update also included Android devices from Sharp, NEC Casio, Fujitsu and Panasonic.