South Korean Electronics giant Samsung may soon pulling out of the smartphone market–in Japan, at least. Recent information from industry sources paints a dreary picture for the company’s prospects in the country, with Business Korea saying: “By continuing to do business in Japan, Samsung should expect more of a loss than a gain.”

So what’s to blame for its floundering smartphone sales?

Samsung is known in Japan for releasing a string of high-end products, such as the Samsung Galaxy S and Samsung Galaxy Note series. At its peak in 2011, the year of the release of the Galaxy S II and the original Galaxy Note, Samsung controlled as much as 17 percent of the Japanese smartphone market. Since then, the company has seen its foothold loosen.

Percent control of Japanese smartphone market (Samsung):

2012: 9%
2013: 5%
2014: 4.2%

Another quote from Business Korea paints the situation thus:

“With floundering shares in the Japanese smartphone market, Samsung is understandably concerned about its progress.”

At the same time, a source from within the company confided:

“Given that the future of the Japanese market remains unclear, we may as well divert our resources elsewhere.”

This raises the question of whether a full retreat from Japan might occur after all. Samsung faces stiff competition from companies such as Apple, which “stole half the Japanese smartphone sales… during the second half of 2014,” according to Digital Trends. As seen in this graph from Counterpoint Research, Samsung trailed behind Fujitsu, Sony, and Apple in the second half of 2014.


Worldwide, the Samsung smartphone division saw its profits fall by 64% during the last three months of 2014. One reporter at Juggly believes Samsung owes its poor performance to a lack of variety in its products, which tend toward high-end models without entry-level options for the foreign market.

The Japanese Twitter jury was quick to weigh in with its own opinions.

▼ “In the end, the general consensus seems to be that Samsung lacks appeal. Can’t be helped, I guess.”

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▼ “From the perspective of the consumer: ‘Samsung? Where are they from? Isn’t it better to stick with domestic products?’ Even though Samsung lacks brand power, they seem to be making a last stand with the high-end products.”

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▼ “Definitely nothing but expensive products. Global-minded models could reasonably cut down on each country’s development costs, but then again… tablets are pretty high-spec.”

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▼ “Good news! Let’s boycott even more and force them out right after Hyundai. They seem to have already erased Japan in their foreign ads, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

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To give some context for that last Tweet, Korean car maker Hyundai withdrew from the Japanese market in 2009 after registering dismal sales figures. Regarding the overseas ads, a 2012 commercial for the Samsung Galaxy featured an image of the world… with Japan notably absent.

Samsung may indeed be making its “last stand” in Japan with the upcoming Galaxy S6, which is slated for a March 1 unveiling. Then again, considering the report from Digital Trends that Japanese sales of the Galaxy Note Edge have numbered in the tens of thousands since its release four months ago, Samsung seems to be facing an uphill battle.

Sources: Hachimaki Kikou, Juggly, Digital Trends, autoevolution
Featured image: Flickr (Kārlis Dambrāns) Inset mages: Juggly, Counterpoint Research