With just one device family, Apple’s iPhone has managed to outgrow Google’s Android platform in Japan over the past three months, gaining market share, a survey note out today from research firm comScore indicated. While we’ve known for awhile that Japan’s iOS-Android duopoly is a sign of things to come, the numbers are nonetheless eyebrow-raising.
Together, the two platforms accounted for a staggering 95.6 percent of all smartphones sold in Japan, where still just one in five own a smartphone.
Low smartphone penetration rate in Japan, compared to the one-in-two smartphone penetration rate in the U.S., actually bodes well for Apple. As more folks in Japan upgrade their dumb phones, they are likely to consider the iPhone 4/4S and especially a sixth-generation model that Piper Jaffray’s resident Apple analyst Gene Munster deemed “the mother of all upgrades”…
Looking at the 19.3 million smartphones that shipped in Japan during the three months ending in February, Android marginally increased its share to 61.4 percent while Apple ranked second with a 34.2 percent share.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone accounted for 3.9 percent of Japan’s smartphones in February 2012.
Both Google and Apple have grown their respective shares, but Apple has notably managed to outgrow its rival by climbing 1.3 percentage points versus November 2011 while Google increased its share of the market by 0.3 percentage points.
Putting feature phones and smartphones together, Japan saw 101.7 million people aged 13 and older using these mobile devices. Sharp and Panasonic are Japan’s #1 and #2 phone vendors, respectively, followed by Fujitsu (#3), NEC (#4) and Sony (#5).
Apple ranked eighth in this broad market segment with 6.5 percent share of all mobile phones – again, gaining the most of all device manufacturers by increasing 1.6 percentage points since November 2011.
As for the mother-of-all-upgrades quote, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster recently told Bloomberg:
We think one of the big features of iPhone 5 is going to be LTE… when iPhone 4S came out it was obviously the same form factor… this is going to be a big hardware upgrade… this is going to be the year of the hardware… the mother of all upgrades.
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Should Microsoft fear that the iOS-Android duopoly will create an impenetrable barrier to entry or does the Redmond giant has a long-term vision and marketing dollars to force Windows Phone upon consumers and carriers as a viable third platform?