| Samsung Electronics, Apple and Sony, the major companies of Korea, U.S. and Japan, are waiting for a big smartphone sales war this autumn.
Having sold 28.5 million smartphones last year, Japan is now the fourth largest smartphone market in the world following the U.S., China and India. Samsung Electronics launched Galaxy Note 3, and Apple iPhone 5S and a lower-end iPhone 5C, while declaring aggressive entry into the Japanese market. After a long struggle, Sony released Xperia Z1 to recapture market, and sales ranking in Japan are in a ding-dong race. Since performance in the second half of this year will determine ranking, the three major companies are fiercely competing to grasp market shares.
According to U.S. research firm Strategy Analytics, Sony ranked No. 1 in Japan`s smartphone market in the second quarter this year with a 22 percent share helped by robust sales of Xperia Z. Apple ranked second with 21 percent and Samsung Electronics third with 13 percent. It is the first time Sony ranked top in Japan since 2011.
Samsung continued second place behind Apple since the fourth quarter of last year, and is feeling the strain from Sony`s revival. Electronics industry sources say Samsung Electronics, in order to block Sony and Apple from raising market share, has decided to sell Galaxy Note 3 via two telecom service providers in Japan from next month, an unprecedented move. Though Samsung had sold Galaxy Note smartphones through Japan`s largest telecom operator NTT Docomo, the company will also partner with the second ranking KDDI to expand market share.
Samsung will put forward its smartwatch Galaxy Gear that is compatible with the Galaxy Note series, to spur Galaxy Note 3 sales in Japan. A Samsung Electronics source said, "Considering that Japanese people show high royalty to pioneering products, we expect Galaxy Gear to sell robust there." When Samsung unveiled Galaxy Gear in Berlin, Germany on September 4, Japanese media reported Samsung have jumped ahead Apple in the wearable device market. Samsung expects robust sales based on this.
Apple who has many Japanese royal customers appears perplexed on Sony`s attack. It has also decided to partner with NTT Docomo for the first time for its iPhone 5S and 5C, to expand market share there. An electronics industry source said, "There are rumors in Japan that NTT Docomo will sign up 40 percent of its smartphone contracts for the second half with iPhone."
Sony`s strategy is to maintain No. 1 ranking in the second half by increasing sales of Xperia Z1. It will resort to patriotism marketing, which emphasizes Sony is a Japanese company and the Japanese mobile phone industry need to revive. In Japan, the mood is ripe to buy Japan-made goods, and NTT Docomo is planning to increase sales of goods of Japanese mobile phone makers including Sony and Fujitsu. This appears to be a boon for Sony.