Earlier this spring Japan looked like one of Apple’s most promising markets for iPhone 3G (AAPL). But even a price cut isn’t helping the gadget take off there. This doesn’t seem to be a problem with the iPhone per se: It’s a problem with the Japanese handset market, which has a ton of high-end phones at competitive prices. WSJ:
Like elsewhere, Japanese consumers lined up at stores in advance of the phone’s release on July 11, and many locations sold out almost immediately. But now analysts estimate that demand in Japan has fallen to a third of what it was initially and analysts are now expecting fewer iPhone sales. There is no supply shortage: The device is readily available in Apple and Softbank stores and other outlets. Major electronics retailer Yodobashi Camera’s megastore in the western city of Osaka, for example, recently had more than 100 of them stacked up in open view.
…According to market-research firm MM Research Institute, Apple sold about 200,000 phones in Japan in the first two months. Since then, however, demand has been falling steadily, and analysts now widely believe sales are unlikely to reach a total of 500,000 units. That is half the one million units that they previously thought Apple could sell. One big challenge is that Japanese users already have access to some of the most advanced mobile-phone technologies in the world. Models currently sold by Japanese mobile phone makers typically contain a high-end colour display, digital TV-viewing capability, satellite navigation service, music player and digital camera. Many models also include chips that let owners use their phones as debit cards or train passes.
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