"iPhone still is about the only phone in Japan which is sold unmodified (i.e. just the way the manufacturer has it produced)."
He adds that such tinkering makes the phones -- based on Android (GOOG) -- too feature-heavy, too complicated, and unstable battery drainers.
Thirdly, he suggests that the software that Japanese add to foreign phones and that is found in domestic-bred devices is no match for Apple's or an unadulterated Samsung. "As Steve Jobs once said, Japanese manufacturers' biggest mistake is they didn't realize how important software technology has become. Most of the executives at Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers were hardware engineers, and they don't get the importance of software or how software business works." he says.
There is, however, a silver lining for Japanese electronic companies making parts for Japan's and the globe's smartphones. Japan Inc. may have failed to produce a phone to set the world on fire, but Japanese electronics makers still produce roughly 50% of parts for all our smartphones and that includes Apple's iPhone. "Japan's phone makers have less market share here than five years ago, it's true, but the value of sales here is offset (by many times) compared to the volumes of components they provide to every single maker shipping globally over that same period of time," points out Japan mobile market consultant Lars Cosh-Ishii at Mobiyko.
"And it's not just hardware. Nobody seems to mention the IP aspect of Japan Inc.'s contribution to wireless industry. Its critical patents for 3G enable billions of handsets around the world to connect to the network." His message is as the cradle of the modern mobile, Japanese innovation might still engender a phone that pushes all the right buttons and astounds the world once more.