The Japanese technology market has always been slightly different from the ones of Europe and the United States. For example, the Xbox, a household name in the West, never really caught on in Japan, and flip-phones still have quite a large market share in the country – although they seem to be finally on their way out.
The 28% market share held by flip-phones in 2014 fell to just 20% in 2015, as smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the iPhone 7 grew in popularity. Tech in Asia notes that the longevity of clamshell-style devices meant that only about half of Japan’s mobile phone owners used smartphones in 2015 though.
Ironically, mobile gaming is huge in Japan but portable devices like the Nintendo DS have long been a preferred platform in the country, at least as far as gaming “on the go” is concerned. The device had sold 17.8m units in the country by Q3 2015. However, it’d be easy to argue that the monopoly the DS has on commuters’ attention is a product of the fact that the long-serving flip-phones are not good gaming devices.
With that in mind, the rapid rate of smartphone adoption is likely to see mobile apps gain a greater share of the gaming market over the next few years, presenting an opportunity for Western companies to boost competition. The wide range of games at William Hill Live Casino, for example, gives users ample choice and plenty of reason to come back, on whatever their smartphone of choice!
But which smartphones are Japanese people using to play these games? Here are three devices that have cornered the smartphone market in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Sharp Aquos Crystal X
Sharp is the Apple of the Japanese world and the Aquos Crystal X is the firm’s flagship device. The X is quite an unusual looking phone, having no noticeable bezel and a slightly squarer body than the iPhone. It’s a powerful device with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB of RAM but it’s still some way behind the Edge S7 (Snapdragon 820, 4GB).
Its biggest draw has to be the device’s price – it retails for about 23,000yen (US$195). It’s also unavailable outside Japan.
Sony Xperia Z5
Sony, as a Japanese firm, is the largest smartphone manufacturer in the country, overtaking Apple in 2014. The company released the Xperia Z4 as a Japan-exclusive, despite the fact that it was really just a tweaked version of its predecessor, the Z3 – a development that confused just about everybody, inside and outside of Japan.
Visually, the Z5 is nothing new; it still has the same awful glass rear and overheating problems that the Z3 had but the latest iteration of the device does at least have a fingerprint scanner.
Fujitsu Arrows NX F-04G
The Fujitsu Arrows had iris scanning technology back in 2015. An attractive turquoise device that resembles Sony’s Xperia range of devices, the Arrows boasts a 20.7-megapixel camera, a Snapdragon 810 processor and 3GB of RAM. It’s also waterproof, which is a far more valuable feature than it may seem, given that women in Japan take their phones everywhere with them, including the shower.
Fujitsu’s landmark phone is one of the most expensive options though, retailing for 86,000 yen or $750. Again, it’s exclusive to Japan.
Ultimately, the Japanese mobile market is a distinctive ecosystem, despite incursions from Western brands like Apple, who currently produce some of the most popular devices in the country. However, with the recent demise of flip-phones, it’s probably fair to say that the Japanese industry will probably lose much of its uniqueness over the next few years.