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

TOKYO, Nov 8 (Reuters) – For years Japanese consumers have been eager for the latest gadgets, but now the falling yen has made new iPhones unaffordable for some and spurred growth. Secondary trading is a major market for Apple Inc (AAPL. O).

The fall of the Japanese currency to a 32-year low against the dollar has appealed to consumers and has accelerated the movement of money in the world for. According to industry watchers, Japanese consumers have become more open to buying second-hand, thanks in part to the rise of online shopping platforms.

In July, Apple increased the price of the entry-level iPhone 13 by almost a fifth. The regular iPhone 14 later started at 20% more than the iPhone 13 did, although the US price remained stable at $799. While the dollar has risen against global currencies this year, the yen has taken a big hit, falling 22%.

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

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“Over 100,000 yen the iPhone 14 is too expensive and I can’t afford it. The iPhone SE 2, released in 2020 but without the two rear cameras of the iPhone 14, is a “good balance ” of price and features, he said.

Apple declined to comment for this story. But in an annual regulatory filing last month, it said Japanese sales fell 9% in the year ended September 24 due to a weaker yen.

Apple CEO Luca Maestri also informed analysts last month that the strong currency has led to price increases for its products in some countries, but sales have continued to grow in double digits in Indonesia, Vietnam and other markets facing financial problems.

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


Taishin Chonan bought a used iPhone 13 after the screen broke on one of the two he was taking for personal use. The conversion rate is high and the battery and camera are better than the iPhone 7 he used.

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“Until now I’ve been buying new phones, this is my first time buying a used one,” said the 23-year-old. “New models are expensive.”

Even after the price increase, the iPhone 14 sold in Japan is the cheapest among 37 countries when taxes are taken out, MM Research Institute said in a September survey. The yen’s weakness could force Apple to raise prices again, the research firm said, which could reduce its hefty 50% share of Japan’s smartphone market.

The latest iPhones priced above the 100,000 yen level are a “big psychological barrier” for many consumers, said Daisuke Inoue, chief executive of Belong Inc, a unit of retailer Itochu Corp. (8001.T) sells used phones. and online courses.

Average sales on Belong’s Nicosuma e-commerce site have trebled since Apple raised prices in July compared to the average of the previous three months, Inoue said. At Belong’s production center outside Tokyo, shipments of used phones are unpacked before being inspected, cleaned and sanitized by rows of workers at long tables.

Phones have been picked up from many angles for online shopping. Belong uses Itochu’s global network to help it source used items in Japan and abroad, depending on where the best prices are, Inoue said.

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Some of the tools were bought from companies, such as tables that were previously used to pay for cafes or tax reports, he said.

Many Japanese are wary of both, including electronics, but that is changing.

Marketplace Mercari saw strong growth in sales of used phones, while sales of home appliances and electronics also grew, Mercari, Inc ( 4385.T ) said.

With Japan reopening to tourists, the second-hand iPhone market has recovered.

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

“The yen continues to be weak,” said Takashi Okuno, Iosys CEO. “That trend of visiting Japan and buying an iPhone is coming back.”

($1 = 147.1200 yen)

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

Our principles: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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