MobileCrunch is reporting via Japanese site Sankei Digital [JP] that Fujitsu is planning on manufacturing an Android handset for the Japanese market. Apple currently dominates the smartphone market in Japan, largely because the Japanese smartphone market was fairly bland before Apple entered the foray.

Japanese phones have tended to focus on high portability, social connectivity, and gadgetry over advanced software or bigger displays. The iPhone changed all that, and created a market for devices with larger displays and modern smartphone operating systems. The iPhone 3G and 3GS last year accounted for over 72% of all smartphones shipped in Japan, and the iPhone 4 will likely be just as big a hit.

sharp_android-620x465 xperia-x10-sony

Image: Sharp’s IS01 Android Smartphone and Sony’s Xperia X10, respectively.

In the meantime, domestic firms Sony and Sharp have begun manufacturing Android-powered devices in response to the iPhone’s staggering popularity on the island nation. Recently, Fujitsu and Toshiba announced plans to merge their mobile phone operations, most likely with the hopes that they too can launch a successful counter attack on the iPhone.

A major issue for smartphone development in Japan is the cost of R&D; many firms simply don’t have the capital to invest in the long-term development required to manufacture a device to compete with modern, foreign competitors. NEC, Hitachi and Casio recently announced a merger of their mobile manufacturing businesses as well for this very reason.

What does this mean for those of us not living in Japan? Japan represents one of the highest per-capita markets for mobile devices on earth (just think about it, it’s Japan). While modern smartphones have not achieved the market penetration there that they have in the US, they’re rapidly headed in that direction. Traditionally, domestic mobile phone companies have unabashedly dominated foreign competitors in Japan, and they’re already showing that Apple’s domination (along with recent intrusions by HTC and RIM devices) is something they’re willing to aggressively confront. If all these major manufacturers get behind Android, an entirely new lineage of Android devices (like Sony’s Xperia line) could eventually make their way to U.S. shores.

Credit:Sankei Digital via MobileCrunch

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Deon

    So it was HTC, Motorola and Samsung, and recently LG, and now Fujitsu, Sharp and Sony have entered the Android arena? Android For the Win!

  • http://androidtobe.blogspot.com/ a2b

    One of the reasons "domestic mobile phone companies have unabashedly dominated foreign competitors in Japan" is that Japan choose to develop their mobile internet around the iMode services which is rather like the WAP that was once proposed on western countries. And Japanese firms have developed lots of services on their mobile, from TV to contactless paiement. Japanese businesses will have to drive the change from iMode services to mobile internet services. And Android openness cas be a great chance to see a lot of inovation as Japanese business wil try to differentiate from each other.