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“Garake” (Galapagos mobile phone) vs. “Smartphone” – An Aspect of Japanese Culture Today –

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– Why Japanese are so crazy about iPhone –

Before I will talk about how much we Japanese love Apple’s iPhone, please allow me to tell you about a very interesting story of the mobile phone market in Japan.

The Galapagos Islands are well known as home of a great number of endemic species because they have been segregated from other islands and continents by sea for many years.

Like a species in the Galapagos Islands, Japanese mobile phone has evolved in a very unique way.

In Japan, since the mobile phone called “Gareke” (Galapagos mobile phone) has evolved highly functional, it still receives very strong support from consumers even today.

As a result, the penetration rate of smartphones in Japan remains at 53.5% as of March 2014.

Japan is actually ragging far behind the countries such as Singapore:93.1%, South Korea:88.7%, UK:80.0%, France:71.6% & USA:69.6%.

In terms of Social Network Services (SNS) such as Facebook & Twitter, Japan’s diffusion rate of 37.8% in 2013 is far below that of South Korea:54.5%, USA:51.7% & UK:50.2%.

〈iPhone’s market share : 70% !!!〉

iPhone has gained amazingly about 70% market share in the Japanese smartphone market according to the survey conducted on the purchased smartphone from September to November 2013.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Japan is the world’s only “iPhone Kingdom”.

What does this 70% mean?

70% of iPhone’s market share is much higher than that of USA:43%、Australia:35%、UK:30%、France/Germany: late 10% and Spain:6%.

Given the higher market share of Android worldwide:82% vs. iOS:12%, there should be specific reasons for Japan.

These are 3 major reasons that people cite as reasons behind that:

1) Easy to use

Most Japanese are unfamiliar with the operation of the smartphone, therefore they tend to choose iPhone with excellent operability.

2) Growing political tensions with South Korea

Recent escalation of political tensions with South Korea seems to prevent Japanese from choosing “Samsung”:Android OS.

3) The “myth” of APPLE

Japanese have strong faith about Apple that they definitely deliver quality products.

In conclusion, though I am a iPhone user, I don’t know the decisive reason yet….


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