Samsung may admit defeat in Japan, and withdraw from the smartphone market there

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge side top
According to a report published by Business Korea, and quoting anonymous industry sources, Samsung is considering whether to continue selling its smartphones in Japan. Apparently, decreasing market share and operating losses are to blame for the dilemma, and not even the unusual Galaxy Note Edge – which made its debut in Japan – has helped the firm reverse its fortunes.

The report states some Samsung executives think “continuing the business only causes losses rather than profits.” It’s said the company has a 4-percent share of the Japanese market, and is placed sixth overall. Counterpoint Research put it in fifth place in November 2014, equalling Sharp’s performance, but behind Fujitsu, Sony, and Apple. If Samsung’s performance wasn’t bad enough, it’s made worse by Apple’s surge in Japan.

During the second half of 2014, Apple stole half the Japanese smartphone sales, according to Counterpoint, and doubled them after the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. While these numbers will surely level out as the new phones age, it goes against the repeated claims (excuses?) that Japanese smartphone buyers predominantly favor hardware originating in the country.

It has been a traumatic beginning to 2015 for Samsung. Its traditionally strong smartphone division reported a 64% plunge in profits during the final three months of 2014, and the firm is being overpowered in China, South Korea, and India – three important mobile markets. It was hoped the Galaxy Note Edge would revive some interest, particularly in Japan, but sales there have only numbered in the tens of thousands, despite the device being on sale for four months.

Samsung will surely be hoping the forthcoming Galaxy S6 will do better, and we’re expecting at least one version to be revealed during Mobile World Congress in March. Samsung has form when it comes to getting out when the going gets tough in Japan. It exited from the television market there in 2007.

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