Why are Japanese Phone Companies Lagging Behind?

Why are Japanese Phone Companies Lagging Behind

When it comes to innovation and technology, Japan is one of the highly advanced countries in the current world. Since the 1960s, Japan has been synonymous with technology. Starting from electronics to the automotive industry, Japanese companies ruled almost everything in the past few decades. 

Incredible innovations like the Walkman, wireless phones, games consoles, plasma TV, DVDs, and Honda cars originated in Japan. Even the manufacturing of robots has a long history in Japan from the 17th century. And now, Japan produces and uses half of the robots in the world. 

But while some great technologies of Japan are still ruling the world, some tech industries like- mobile or smartphones are disappearing. The country that started the revolution of the wireless telephone in 1916 is actually lost from the industry itself. 

Why are Japanese Phone Companies Lagging Behind

In this article we will walk you through the details of how the Japanese mobile revolution was, why the Japanese phone companies are lagging behind, and how they can regain their previous position in this modern era. 

Revolution of Japanese Mobiles

Smartphones are one of the most important parts of our day-to-day life. Today we can’t think of our life without a smartphone, despite the fact that this smart technology was just introduced to us in the 1990s. The revolution of smartphones has grown really fast and keeps introducing new and better technologies every year. 

But the interesting thing is, while the world was just getting introduced to the incredible phenomena of mobile phones, the Japanese people began to use mobile phones about 10 years earlier. In 1912, when the world was only familiar with “Morse code” the wireless telegraph, Japan invented the world’s first practical “Wireless Telephone” to send voices wirelessly and successfully completed the first test. The wireless telephone was called “TYK-type wireless telephone,” and after the successful call experiment, Japan started a public communication service using wireless telephones in 1916. With more than 15,000 practical calls, Japan succeeded in establishing the communication service and got a foreign patent in later years. 

first Wireless Telephone
TYK-type wireless telephone

This wireless phone technology was a great contribution to introduce Japanese technology overseas. With that, when the outer world just started using mobile phones, Japan had already demoed the first video call over a cordless phone in a trade show in 1998. 

Revolution of Japanese Mobiles

After that, in 1999, “Kyocera Visual Phone VP-210,” the first commercial camera phone, was released and in 2001, Japanese mobile company Matsushita introduced the world with the first WCDMA 3G mobile phone, “ FOMA P2101V”. 

A few years later, in 2007, Sharp, another mobile company of Japan, had launched the “Aquos 912SH TV-phone”, which includes features like external OLED display, 3MP camera, Bluetooth, mobile payment, and MicroSD slot, whereas iPhones and Androids were not launched yet. For that, the Japanese mobile companies were considered as the market leaders in the 90s and early 20s and became the dream of every gadget lover to hold a Japanese phone at that time. 

Now, the main argument comes, why are Japanese phone companies lagging behind? Truly say, no one reason laid the Japanese mobile companies vanished. There are many reasons combined for the country’s mobile technology lagging behind.

Reasons of Japanese Mobile Technology Falling Behind 

1. Galápagos Syndrome

Galapagos syndrome basically refers to a business term of Japan. In this term, Japanese companies used to isolate their development branches from the outside world and focus on only their cultural needs. 

They thought Galapagos syndrome would develop in Japan faster than in other countries as their technology stays inside the country. This syndrome was used for the Japanese 3G mobile phones, which featured a large number of high tech. But it was unusable outside the Japanese network. 

On the contrary, years later, iPhones and Android came with the same high-tech technology allowing the user to use mobile phones all over the world. What Japanese mobile companies laid behind.

2. Software Second 

While the world is running after software, programming, or coding, Japan keeps the software engineers in second class. In Japanese tech companies, they put the hardware engineers, first-class, while software engineers are not respected as they should be. 

For that Androids and iPhones, while increasing their services with alluring software, Japan was still working on developing hardware features. For that, cellular phones become more bulky and weighted.

While smartphone makers were trying to create slimmer phones by improving the software. That causes the Japanese High Tech mobiles to get out of the market and smartphones to become the king.

3. High-end Competitions 

Starting from 1916 to 2007, the Japanese mobile industry was referred to as the most advanced side in the world. But in 2008 the high-tech industry suddenly collapsed, when iPhone and Android phones entered the Japanese market. 

Japanese companies didn’t think the touchscreen phones to be a new craze among Japanese culture. And will grab 72% of the Japanese mobile market in just 2 years. With Japan, iPhones and androids have also dramatically taken over the world’s mobile industry, and the era of smartphones started. 

For that, Japanese high-tech phones became less appealing to consumers. And, in a very short time, Japanese mobile giants like- Mitsubishi Electric, Sanyo, NEC, Toshiba, etc., got closed for business. 

4. No Investment in Smartphones

As Japanese mobile giants started closing, after 2008, the interest in investing in new era smartphones was lost by japan. Japan thought of other tech industries like robots or cars that still exist in Japan and can be flourished in the future. 

So, the early leading Japanese mobile industry lost its position and vacant the top spaces for the new revolutionary mobile giants, which are iPhone and Android. 

5. Lack of Marketing 

The only Japanese company that is still running in the mobile race is Sony. Rather than fellow Japanese mobile giants that lose business for Galapagos syndrome, Sony tried to make the globally relevant smartphone series. 

But since 2017, the company also started losing its money and a big decline in sales. Although they are creating some great cellphone models like Sony Xperia 1 III or Sony Xperia 5 III, they are not getting the boom in sales. The reason behind these failings is less marketing. 

As most people don’t even know about the wonderful features of Sony Xperia, as much they know about the latest iPhones or Xiaomi Phones. So, marketing is a big reason that laid Japanese mobiles behind. 


In conclusion, the only thing we can say, it is sad to see such a leading mobile industry falling down drastically. But still, there is a chance to grow for the leftover mobile companies like Sony, or Panasonic to make bold positions with both technology and software. And the companies like Fujitsu, Sharp, and Kyocera, have to come out of their domestic borders and explore the new generation of smartphones to survive. But most importantly, the marketing strategy has to be more advanced and let the people know about the revolutions that the Japanese Mobile industry can create.

Avatar photo

Nafiul Haque

Nafiul Haque has grown up playing on all the major gaming platforms. And he got his start as a journalist covering all the latest gaming news, reviews, leaks, etc. As he grew as a person, he became deeply involved with gaming hardware and equipment. Now, he spends his days writing about everything from reviewing the latest gaming laptops to comparing the performance of the latest GPUs and consoles.