Japan: flip-phones up, smartphones down

Japan: flip-phones up, smartphones downI fondly recall the time – not so long ago – when flip-phones seemed like the absolute pinnacle of technology, and us losers with plain old candybar feature phones looked on with barely concealed envy.

These days it’s all about iOS and Android, but Japanese mobile consumers still have a place in their heart for the humble flipper. Indeed, in 2014, flip-phone popularity rose in the Land of the Rising Sun, while smartphones declined. True story.

That’s the word over on Reuters, with the headline Japan's old flip-phones soldier on while smartphones shrink.

Specifically, flip-phone shipments rose 5.7% to 10.58 million units in 2014, while smartphone shipments fell 5.3% to 27.7 million – that’s according to data from MM Research Institute Ltd.

While Japan is typically ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, it actually pays some of the world's highest fees for smartphones, while flip-phone rates are – at the other end of the scale – insanely wallet-friendly.

As such, many Japanese mobile users are happy to save a few yen and make do with a flip-phone, with simple call, text and email facilities, alongside basic browsing.

Interestingly, manufacturers like Panasonic and NEC – who pulled out of the smartphone market on account of furious competition from the likes of Apple, Sony and Samsung – still make flip-phones.

However, an MM Research guy reckons 2014 was a particularly strong year for flip-phones, and that the phenomenon mightn’t necessarily be repeated in 2015. Flippin' 'eck.

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