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Google Pixel taking a bite out of iPhone’s market share in the world’s third largest economy

While most smartphone brands are seeing their sales slump, Google’s Pixel phones are rising in popularity in some of the world’s most important markets.

In Japan, which is the world’s third-biggest economy and an important market for apps and games, sales of Google Pixel smartphones rose six times in the second quarter of 2023 compared to a year ago, according to research firm Counterpoint Research’s findings published by Bloomberg. This increased the company’s market share to 12 percent.

While that’s important news on its own, what makes it even more interesting is that Apple’s market share declined from 58 percent to 46 percent during the same period, marking this the first time in two years that the Cupertino giant’s share has fallen below 50 percent.

The iPhone has been as dominant in Japan as in the US but rising smartphone prices are pushing people towards Google’s Pixel 6a and Pixel 7a, which are among the best budget phones available today.

The chief reason behind the decline in the iPhone’s popularity is Japan’s weakening currency, which has made Apple’s smartphones more expensive in the country. It also doesn’t help that recent iPhones don’t exactly offer any must-have features. Also working against the appeal of the iPhone are reduced carrier subsidies.

It’s hard to predict whether Google will continue to ride this wave of success but given that Apple’s premium-most new phone, the iPhone 15 Pro Max, is more expensive than its predecessor, while the upcoming Pixel 8 Pro is expected to retain its base price, the odds seem stacked in Google’s favor.

And while some might be tempted to play down Google’s success in Japan by claiming that it performed better during the June quarter purely due to the weakening yen, that’s not entirely true.

While the overall market was in shambles, the premium segment seemed immune to the factors that impacted other categories, such as poor economic conditions, longer replacement cycles, and lower carrier subsidies. That’s despite the fact that the average selling price of North American phones increased from $663 in Q2 2022 to $738 in Q2 2023.

Sales of Apple and Samsung’s high-end phones increased by around 25 percent. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Flip 5, Apple’s iPhone 15 series, and Google and Motorola’s foldable phones are expected to sustain the moment during the holiday season.

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