Remember the days when flip phones were considered “advanced technology”? They were colorful, functional, thin (for the time), and best of all, they fought the ever dreaded “butt dial.” Global growth in smartphone sales may have seemingly put flip phones in their graves, but new statistics from Japan show these antiquated devices might be making a comeback.
For the first time in seven years, Japan reported an increase in flip phone sales in 2014, according to new data from MM Research Institute. Flip phones posted a 5.7% increase from 2013 to 2014 to 10.58 million shipments. At the same time, Japanese smartphone sales declined, falling 5.3 % to 27.70 million shipments. This is the second straight year where smartphone shipments dropped.
While smartphone sales still more than double the number of flip phone shipments, the trend indicates a surprising change taking place in the market.
Many Japanese electronics companies like Panasonic and NEC have pulled out of the smartphone market because they cannot compete with big companies like Apple and Samsung. These makers have found a new niche in the flip phone market in Japan. Fujitsu and Sharp currently dominate this market, but there now appears to be room for other companies to succeed.
MM Research Institute reported that 98% of Japanese adults have a mobile phone, accounting for 125 million subscriptions.