As yen tumbles, gadget-loving Japan goes for secondhand iPhones

TOKYO, Nov 8 (Reuters) – For years Japanese consumers have been clamoring for the latest gadgets, but now a weakening yen has put new iPhones out for some and spurred booming business in the wholesale market. Apple Inc (AAPL). O).

Japan’s currency plunged to a 32-year low against the dollar which has hit consumers and led to major fiscal changes in the world’s no.3 country. Industry insiders say Japanese consumers have become more likely to buy second-hand goods, due in part to the rise of online shopping sites.

In July, Apple raised the price of the entry-level iPhone 13 by almost a fifth. The basic iPhone 14 ended up costing 20% ​​more than the iPhone 13 did, even though the US price stopped at $799 .While the dollar has strengthened against global currencies this year, the yen has been hit hard, falling 22%.

Salaryman Kaoru Nagase wants a new phone but can’t explain the price of the iPhone 14, which starts at 119,800 yen ($814). Instead, he bought a used iPhone SE 2 in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district for less than a third of that.

“At over 100,000 yen the iPhone 14 is too expensive and I can’t afford it. It would be great if the battery lasted for 10 years,” he said. The iPhone SE 2, which was released in 2020 but lacks the rear camera of the iPhone 14, is a “good balance” of price and features, he said.

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Apple declined to comment for this story. But in its annual management filing last month, it said Japanese sales fell 9% in the year ended September 24 due to the yen’s weakness.

Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri also admitted to analysts last month that the strong dollar has led to higher prices for its products in some countries, but sales still grew by double digits in Indonesia, Vietnam and other struggling markets. face value.

The market of used smartphones grew nearly 15% in Japan to 2.1 million last fiscal year and could reach 3.4 million by 2026, according to technology market research firm MM Research Institute.

100,000 YEN restriction

Taishin Chonan bought a used iPhone 13 after the screen cracked on one of the two devices he was carrying for personal use. The replacement has a higher resolution and better battery and camera than the iPhone 7 it uses.

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“Until now I have only bought a new phone, this is my first time buying something,” said the 23-year-old. “The new model is expensive.”

Even after the price hike, the iPhone 14 sold in Japan was the cheapest among 37 countries after taxes were included, MM Research Institute said in a September survey. Further yen weakness could prompt Apple to raise prices again, the research firm said, potentially eroding Japan’s 50% share of the smartphone market.

New iPhones are now being sold above the 100,000 yen mark, which is a “big psychological barrier” for many buyers, said Daisuke Inoue, CEO of Belong Inc, a unit of Itochu Corp. (8001.T) sells used phones. and tablets online.

Average sales on Belong’s Nicosuma e-commerce site have increased since Apple raised prices in July compared to the average over the past three months, Inoue said. At Belong’s factory on the outskirts of Tokyo, boxed phones are brought in before being inspected, sorted and cleaned by long lines of workers at tables.

The phones are then sold from different angles for sale online. Belong uses Itochu’s global network to help it source used devices both in Japan and overseas, depending on where the best price is, Inoue said.

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Some of the devices are bought from businesses, such as tablets used for payments in cafes or displays in taxis, he said.

Many Japanese have been cautious about other things, including electronics, but that is changing.

Mercari’s retail location has seen strong growth in sales of used phones, while sales of home appliances and electronics have grown, a Mercari, Inc ( 4385.T ) spokeswoman said.

With Japan reopening to foreign tourists, the second-hand iPhone market is getting another boost.

Retail chain Iosys Co Ltd has seen a rise in foreign tourists buying used iPhones in the past two months.

“The yen is getting stronger,” said Iosys CEO Takashi Okuno. “The trend of going to Japan and buying an iPhone is coming back.”

($1 = 147.1200 yen)

Additional information Kohei Miyazaki in Zama, Japan and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Written by David Dolan; Edited by Lincoln Feast

Our principles: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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