“Abnormal iPhone Popularity” declines. Sales share at volume-sales home appliance stores drops from 13% to 4.4%
8, 28. 2008
Over a month has passed since the sale of the iPhone, the mobile phone made by Apple Inc., began in Japan. The introduction of the iPhones was widely publicized, and they were so popular at start that they were sold out on the first day of the sales. But now the popularity is rather going down. According to a survey conducted by the research company BCN, the sales share of the iPhones at volume-sales home appliance stores, which hit 13% soon after the sales began, has gone down to 4.4% in August 2008.
Even below Matsushita, Sharp, Casio, NEC
Sales share for iPhones at volume-sales home appliance stores is sluggish
"(The selling) is quieting down."
These are comments made by the person in charge of the iPhone sales at volume-sales home appliance stores in Tokyo, indicating that the "iPhone sales competition" is quieting down. On the background is that the sold-out problems experienced at the beginning are now being resolved, and the supplies are stabilized. From what is noticed at the volume-sales stores, however, the sales seem to be becoming sluggish, although the supplies of the iPhones are becoming stabilized.
According to a survey conducted by the research company BCN, the sales share at volume-sales home appliance stores (excluding the sales at the shops operated by mobile phone operators) became sluggish shortly after the start of selling due partly to "no supplies". For the "iPhone 3G" 16 gigabyte model phones, the sales share stood at 10% in the week of July 11 (three days) when the sale began, 3.2% in the second week, 4.6% in the third week and 5.3% in the fourth week.
The sales share was still sluggish in August at 3.9% (Aug. 4-10), however, which was lower than the sales shares of the mobiles phones made by Matsushita, Sharp, Casio and NEC. Also for the 8 gigabyte models, the sales share was not very good at 3% shortly after the start of the sales and still at 1.5% in August. (Data provided by BCN)
SoftBank Mobile Corp. has so far not made public the sales result of the iPhones. Asked if the sales have become sluggish, a person in charge of the public relations only replied that he could not comment as the sales figures could not be disclosed.
According to the report on the number of contracts concluded for mobile phones in July, announced by the Telecommunications Carriers Association (TCA) on Aug. 7, 2008, the number of the contracts concluded with SoftBank Mobile rose by 215,400, placing the company on the top of the list for the 15th consecutive month. Switch-overs from other mobile phone companies to SoftBank Mobile also doubled over the previous month to 52,000, showing a continued brisk rise. The public relations person of the company told J-CAST News that the iPhones attracted many customers to the shops contributing a favorable effect to the business as a whole.
Key is how much share of corporate use can be expanded
The attraction of the iPhone itself gave rise to the brisk business of SoftBank Mobile. But it is worrisome that the sales of the iPhones have been dwindling. There is a view among the people in the mobile phone industry that the iPhones have already saturated to the "core of the purchasers of the iPhones", indicating there is no promise that the sales will go up in the future.
SoftBank Mobile changed its pricing system for the iPhone 3G phones on Aug. 5, 2008, under which the packet price which was fixed at 5,985 yen per month was changed to sliding systems of two categories in accordance to the number of the packets, effective from August. Because of this change, the minimum monthly fee for the use of the iPhone became 2,990 yen, including the calling fees.
The journalist Taro Matsumura, who is an expert on mobile phones, noted that the re-purchasing of new mobile phones went up sharply as the instalment payment system was introduced for the purchase of mobile phones, and this became a "major stumbling block" for the iPhones. He further said:
"I think the iPhones sold well as a line of mobiles phones. But it seems that about a half of the iPhone owners are using it as a second mobile phone. The future sales will depend on if the iPhone can be chosen as a main mobile phone. The iPhones can not be used for sending pictographs in texting, or for 1seg or mobile wallet. But there still is a room for increasing sales to the frequent users of the internet for PC's."
Matsumura further pointed out the fact that game software and other applications for the iPhones are available at the price of 100 yen, meaning the iPhones are attractive as mobile terminals for doing games. As the terminals for use by corporations, however, they face the hurdle of Japanese business firms which are not willing to change the platforms. How much effort SoftBank can put into in this respect will decide if it can increase the sales, he said. There are still unpredictable factors in determining how big share the iPhones can occupy in Japan's mobile phone market.