Japanese Buying More Flip-Phones, Fewer Smart Ones

Owning a smartphone is pricey in the country
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2015 12:28 PM CST
Japanese Buying More Flip-Phones, Fewer Smart Ones
A man looks at a cellphone in front of an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, June 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Remember the golden days of yore, when your phone was a lot smaller, used primarily for calling people, and opened with a satisfying flip? Well, it seems those days haven't died in Japan, where last year, the number of flip-phone shipments actually increased, a first in seven years, Reuters reports. Flip-phone shipments climbed 5.7% to 10.58 million, while smartphone shipments went the other direction, dropping 5.3%. It was the second year in a row that smartphone shipments fell, though their total number last year—27.7 million—still dwarfs the number of flip-phone shipments.

Reuters suggests some possible explanations: For one thing, Japan's smartphone fees are some of the highest in the developed world. Also, flip-phones are particularly cheap to own in Japan. In fact, it seems a flip-phone culture of sorts exists in the country: As Engadget reported last year, the phones are known as "Galapagos phones" because they couldn't make it anywhere else (Reuters says the term refers to the phones' evolution in Japan). But the market still faces trouble: It'll be tough to grow when the mobile phone penetration rate is at 98.5%. (More Japan stories.)

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