April 23 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc.’s iPhone shipments to Japan more than doubled in the past year, capturing 72 percent of the country’s smartphone market, a research firm said.
Shipments of the iPhone, which began selling in Japan in July 2008, climbed to 1.69 million units in the year ended March 31, Tokyo-based MM Research Institute Ltd. said in a report yesterday. That raised the total to 2.3 million, Hideaki Yokota, an analyst at the research firm, said by telephone today.
The iPhone helped smartphone sales more than double last fiscal year in Japan as shipments of regular mobile phones shrank, according to the report. Smartphone shipments will probably exceed 3 million units in the 12 months started April 1, even as the overall market is forecast to contract for a third year, it said.
“Last year was just the beginning of the smartphone competition, which is why Apple did so well,” said Calvin Huang, who rates iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. “buy” at Daiwa Securities Group Inc. in Taipei. “This year will be much more competitive.”
Taiwan’s HTC Corp. was the second-largest seller of smartphones in Japan with 11 percent of the market, followed by Toshiba Corp.’s 6.8 percent, it said.
The MM estimates indicate Japan accounted for about 5.6 percent of iPhones sold worldwide last fiscal year. While the Cupertino, California-based electronics maker doesn’t break down the number iPhones sold by country, Japan’s portion of total revenue climbed to 6.6 percent in the latest quarter, the highest since 2006, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Softbank Corp., the exclusive iPhone carrier in Japan, and bigger rivals NTT DoCoMo Inc. and KDDI Corp. are expanding their smartphone lineups with handsets running Google Inc.’s Android software to bolster revenue from data services. DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile-phone operator, began selling its second Android model earlier this month and KDDI, the country’s second-biggest, will introduce a Sharp Corp.-made phone in June.
Android, a newcomer to the smartphone operating-system market, will see its global handset base jump to 68 million units by 2013, from 690,000 in 2008, researcher IDC Corp. said in January. Google software will outpace Apple’s and Microsoft Corp.’s operating systems to be second only to Symbian, used by Nokia Oyj.
Softbank rose 0.4 percent to close at 2,104 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, compared with a 0.3 percent decline by the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average. DoCoMo dropped 1.5 percent, while KDDI retreated 0.1 percent.
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