Smartphones Overtake Feature Phones in Japan

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With budget smartphones flooding the cell phone market worldwide, it is getting harder and harder for manufacturers of feature phones to keep up. Though feature phones are still successful in new markets for cell phone service around the world, smartphones are the inevitable leaders of the pack. Nokia's CEO, Stephen Elop, admitted as much in a dismal earnings report last week.

Today ComScore, which provides metrics on all things digital, released data that shows smartphones have overtaken feature phones as the most acquired type of cell phone device in Japan. Android phones accounted for 61.4% of the smartphones acquired, with Apple iOS phones coming in with 34.2%

“Smartphones surpassed feature phones as the most acquired device type in February 2012, signaling an important shift in Japan’s mobile market,” said Daizo Nishitani, vice president of comScore Japan KK. “The rise in smartphone adoption opens the door to tremendous opportunity for publishers and advertisers to expand their reach and increase engagement with key consumer segments through this channel. Japanese mobile phone users were already highly engaged with their devices, but with the added functionality and higher levels of mobile media consumption we should expect to see significant changes in behavior among the Japanese mobile population in 2012.”

The data is based on a three-month period from November of last year to February 2012. Sharp was the most popular manufacturer of mobile devices during that period. Though Apple doesn't crack the top five seen in this chart, it did experience the most gain in market share during those three months:

Japan's top smartphone manufacturers

Naturally, with Apple's iOS being tied to its hardware exclusively, Apple also saw a gain in its share of the mobile OS market in Japan. It gained 1.3% from November to February, taking its share straight from Microsoft devices such as Windows phones. Android held steady, running on around 61% of the total acquired devices over the period.

Japan's top smartphone operating systems

What do you think? Should manufacturers of feature phones be terrified of the smartphones to come? Will Apple make significant progress against Android in Japan, or will they both keep taking Microsoft's small share of the pie? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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