The Handset Wars

Back to Contents of Issue: August 2001

We got to wondering which Net cellphone handsets were selling best. The results didn't surprise us.

We got to wondering which Net cellphone models were selling best, so we asked BCN, which supplies best-seller POS (point-of-sale) data on virtually anything -- PCs, parts, software -- sold at 565 major computer shops (13 companies) in Japan. (You can see "BCN Ranking" data in Business Computer News, and many other Japanese-language publications and Web sites.) BCN was kind enough to share the data compiled for a week in early June.

Below, the format is as follows: Company, model (color), month the model hit the market. The letter before the model number indicates the manufacturer (N is NEC, P is Panasonic, and SA is Sanyo).

  1. NTT DoCoMo N210i (purple), April
  2. NTT DoCoMo N503i (silver), March
  3. NTT DoCoMo P503i (silver), January
  4. NTT DoCoMo N503i (dark gray), March
  5. NTT DoCoMo N210i (aqua blue), April
  6. NTT DoCoMo N210i (silver), April
  7. J-Phone J-SA03 (silver), April
  8. NTT DoCoMo N503i (lavender), March
  9. NTT DoCoMo P503iS (black), May
  10. J-Phone J-SA03 (pink), June

First off, we can see here NTT DoCoMo's clear dominance, holding eight of the 10 best-selling models. On the manufacturing side, we see that NEC is the clear leader. (Notably, Sony isn't on the list.) Also worth mentioning is the fact that every model except for No. 3 is a flip-top one (see below). Could this be a subconscious influence of Star Trek? Maybe, but then how to explain the aqua blue, lavender, and pink handsets?

Note that half the top-10 phones are iAppli ones, meaning they run Java apps and can do cool things like play speedy games and track stocks.

One thing we've seen in Japan is the emergence of the "washroom trader" -- a company employee who, needing privacy to trade stocks during work hours, retreats to a bathroom stall with a phone like these. Look for waterproof models to work their way up the best-selling list.

Note: The function "email this page" is currently not supported for this page.