Sharp aims high for iPhone dominated smartphone market in Japan

Sharp looks set to fight back against the proliferation of Apple‘s iPhone in the Japanese smartphone market by producing its own 3D enabled devices.

The Japanese electronics manufacturer will aim to increase its share of the smartphone market from 6.3 percent to 30 percent by 2016, as it attempts to hit back against Apple which currently owns 60 percent of the smartphone market on Sharp’s home turf.

Sharp aims to increase sales to five million smartphones annually in the country over the coming years as the market continues to swell.  This would represent a vast increase on the 140,000 shipped in Japan between April and September, with Apple selling 1.34 million in the same time frame.

It is expected that the smartphone market itself will continue to increase substantially in the coming years, with the 3.86 million units estimated to be sold this year expected to rise fourfold to 20.3 million in March 2016, according to MM Research. Sharp appears to be anxious to ensure that it is able to grab a significant portion of this by targeting its new handsets to appeal to locals.

Sharp is currently one of the largest mobile phone makers of ‘keitai’ phones, a more traditional phone which is very popular in Japan, with capabilities such as digital money, infrared information exchange and a system that allows users to watch TV, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

While Sharp has a comparatively small share of the smartphone market, also trailing Sony Ericsson‘s 21 percent, it has a large share of the regular mobile phone market.

“As smartphone users increase, their needs are diversifying,” said Masami Ohbatake, head of the company’s information and communication business, adding that it was necessary to produce smartphones that specifically meet Japanese consumer needs.  

To do this Sharp will combine glasses-free 3D technology in its handsets, running on Google’s Android OS, while still incorporating the more familiar keitai features. According to Ohbatake Sharp will be targeting the high-end segment of the booming smartphone market, with 3D handsets to be released early next year.