When Vodafone Group released a line of 3G mobile phones simultaneously in several major cities around the world, Japan was less than enthralled. The marketing blitz in Japan was also the first test of selling foreign-made handsets like Motorola and Nokia in a country where homemade phones have nearly monopolized the market. By many reports, the foreign handset makers fell flat in Japan, the most advanced cellphone market in the world.
In Japan, there are already more than 30 million subscribers to 3G services offered by carriers like Vodafone KK, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, and mobile phone manufacturers are eagerly courting a market that in 2004 spent 1.7 trillion, or about $15 billion, on handsets, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
But Nokia, the world’s largest cellphone maker, and Motorola, No.2, have shipped barely a few hundred thousand handsets a piece in Japan since December, Kimura said. Actual sales in stores by each company since then, he said, have probably totaled only several tens of thousands of handsets per quarter.
“For overseas manufacturers, it made sense to go after the Japanese market, where there is already a market in 3G,” while its own 3G market develops, said Michito Kimura, senior analyst with IDC Japan, a technology research firm. “The problem is the foreign handsets are not selling at all.” Continue