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商业 - 科技

iPhone靠什么征服日本

Michael Fitzpatrick 2013年05月09日

苹果iPhone诞生8年前,日本人就已经用上了触屏手机,日本手机一度曾经是优质手机的代名词。但是,去年,iPhone变成了日本最畅销的手机,而日本本土的手机已经江河日下。苹果是怎么做到的?

    美国消费者用手机来看电视、进行GPS导航、下载音乐、制作视频、支付账单和查看邮件,但好几年前日本人就在这么做了。日本在iPhone诞生前8年就已经有了触摸屏手机——Pioneer J-PE01。然而,苹果(Apple)iPhone去年成为日本最畅销的手机并不是什么令人惊讶的事。极其著名的日本手机在外观和性能上领先外国手机10多年后,终于让位给了外国机型。

    以NEC为例。它曾是世界上最大的IT和通信公司之一,它的命运代表了其他7家日本手机制造商。这家公司已经连续两年出现亏损,股价在10年间下跌逾90%,于是出售了旗下手机销售部门,裁减了10,000个手机相关岗位。分析人士称,这家公司已经无力再与苹果和韩国三星(Samsung)竞争。

    原因何在?日本手机专家林信行认为,日本消费者抛弃本国手机制造商有三个主要原因。首先,他说必须要明白iPhone对日本女性产生了多么巨大和意想不到的吸引力。“iPhone从一开始就获得了女性的青睐。最初采用圆角设计和塑料外壳的iPhone 3G系列手机很快就变成了日本女性的时尚物品,她们喜欢那种多变的外壳和简洁的装饰。其次是日本女性的品牌忠诚度。”

    日本也有和iPhone同样靓丽的手机。风靡一时的Infobar直板手机因为靓丽的外观而赢得了国际设计大奖。尽管iPhone缺乏日本电信业高管认为必不可少的浮华装饰,但事实证明,iPhone引发的热潮势不可挡。

    市场调研公司IDC日本的数据显示,iPhone是2012年日本最畅销的手机及智能手机。这是个巨大的成就,而日本手机观察人士和业内领袖起初曾说iPhone会在日本一败涂地。IDC的资料显示,苹果现在占到日本市场15%的份额,领先于日本的夏普(Sharp)和富士通(Fujitsu),后二者的市场份额均为14%。日本顶尖的移动运营商NTT Docomo没有推出iPhone,而是主要推广三星Galaxy等其他的外国智能手机,以此来抗衡iPhone。

    但林信行表示,这些对打败苹果起不到什么作用。他说,日本手机行业的运营方式导致了低劣的产品。他说:“手机运营商生产了在日本出售的几乎每部手机。就连诺基亚(Nokia)和三星的手机也被手机运营商加以改造,以满足特定的需求。运营商添加了他们认为重要的功能,比如电子钱包、One-Seg TV接收器以及运营商的各种特别服务。”

    The Japanese were using their cellphones to watch TV, navigate with GPS, download music, make movies, pay bills, and check their emails years before American consumers were doing the same. Japan also had touchscreen phones eight years earlier than iPhone -- the Pioneer J-PE01. And yet it is no surprise that Apple's iPhone was the best-selling phone in Japan last year. After over a decade of trouncing any foreign handset looks and talent-wise, Japan's legendary ketai are been given the heave-ho in favor of foreign models.

    Take NEC, once one of the world's biggest IT and telecoms firms. Its fortunes have been typical of the other seven Japanese handset makers. After two years of losses and a stock value that has fallen over 90% in a decade, it is selling off its mobile phone sales unit and cutting 10,000 mobile related jobs. Analysts say the firm can't compete anymore with Apple (AAPL) and Korea's Samsung.

    What happened? Japanese mobile phone guru Nobuyuki Hayashi believes there are three main reasons Japan has fallen out of love with its own handset makers. First, he says, you have to understand what a colossal and unexpected hit the iPhone was with Japanese women. "The iPhone has been very strong among women from very early on. The original round plastic iPhone 3G series soon become a fashion item for Japanese women who also enjoyed the huge variation of cases and ease of decoration. Then there is the brand loyalty of Japanese women."

    Japan had phones just as good-looking as the iPhone. The once popular Infobar candy bar phone even won international design prizes. But the craze for the iPhone, despite lacking all the bells and whistles Japanese telecoms executives thought were indispensable (e-wallet, TV, etc) proved overwhelming.

    According to IDC Japan, the iPhone was the No. 1 best-seller for 2012 in both handsets and smartphones. Quite a feat for a phone that the country's ketai-watchers and industry leaders said would fail at the start. Apple now has 15% market share putting it ahead of Japan's Sharp and Fujitsu, which both enjoy 14% of the market according to IDC. Japan's top mobile provider, NTT Docomo (DCM), which does not carry the iPhone, hit back by promoting mostly foreign-made smartphones like Samsung's Galaxy.

    But this won't help the attempts to defeat Apple according to Mr. Hayashi who says that the way the phone industry operates here leads to an inferior product. "The phone operators produce almost each and every mobile phones sold in Japan. Even the phones by Nokia (NOK) or Samsung are modified to match the special requirement by the operators to include features that operators believe are important such as e-wallet, One-Seg TV receiver and wide range of special services by the operators," he says.

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