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Sony Chomps on Apple in Japan

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Sony Extends Lead Over Apple in Japan as Discounts Drive Sales
A model displays a Xperia A smartphone manufactured by Sony Mobile Communications during the unveiling of NTT DoCoMo Inc. new smartphones in Tokyo on May 15, 2013. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Goodbye Apple. Hello Sony.

In a matter of weeks Sony has reversed fortunes in its home market supplanting Apple as the top supplier of smartphones in Japan. In just a month the Tokyo-based company has more than doubled new domestic smartphone sales and now accounts for 36 percent of deliveries. In the same period Apple's share has fallen to about a quarter.

So what gives? First, Sony unveiled its sleek new Xperia handset that analyst Keita Wakabayashi at Mito Securities says, appeals to Japanese consumers because of quirks like being waterproof (go ahead throw it in the tub). Second, NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest wireless carrier, began promoting the handset and offering steep discounts.

What's it all mean? Well, Sony Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai said last month his strategy for reviving the company's unprofitable electronics operations lies in boosting smartphones sales. For now at least, he's successfully executed that strategy in Japan.

It remains to be seen if the rest of the world will follow.

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