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



For years Japanese buyers eagerly shelled out for the most recent devices, however now a tumbling yen has put new iPhones out of attain for some and sparked a rising secondhand commerce in a serious marketplace for Apple Inc.

The Japanese forex’s fall to a 32-year low towards the dollar has squeezed customers and accelerated a broader spending shift on this planet’s no.3 financial system. Industry watchers say Japan’s buyers have turn out to be extra open to purchasing secondhand, thanks partially to the rise of on-line public sale websites.

In July, Apple hiked the value of the entry-level iPhone 13 by practically a fifth. The primary iPhone 14 later debuted at 20% greater than the iPhone 13 did, even because the U.S. worth stayed flat at $799. While the dollar has surged towards international currencies this 12 months, the yen has been significantly hit, dropping 22%.

Salaryman Kaoru Nagase wished a brand new cellphone however could not justify the value of a iPhone 14, which begins at 119,800 yen. Instead, he purchased a used iPhone SE 2 in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district for lower than a 3rd of that.

“At more than 100,000 yen the iPhone 14 is too expensive and I just can’t afford it. It would be fine if the battery lasted for 10 years,” he mentioned. The iPhone SE 2, launched in 2020 however with out the twin rear digital camera of the iPhone 14, was a “good balance” of value and options, he mentioned.

Apple declined to remark for this story. But in an annual regulatory submitting final month, it mentioned Japan gross sales fell 9% within the 12 months ended September 24 as a result of yen’s weak spot.

Apple Chief Financial Luca Maestri additionally acknowledged to analysts final month that the robust dollar had led to cost will increase for its merchandise in some international locations, however gross sales had nonetheless grown by double digits in Indonesia, Vietnam and different markets dealing with forex challenges.

Sales of used smartphones grew practically 15% in Japan to a document 2.1 million within the final monetary 12 months and are prone to attain 3.4 million by 2026, in keeping with know-how market analysis agency MM Research Institute.

Workers clear used iPhones at an operations heart of Belong Inc, a unit of buying and selling home Itochu Corp that sells used telephones and tablets on-line, in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Taishin Chonan purchased a used iPhone 13 after the display screen cracked on one of many two gadgets he carries for private use. The alternative has larger decision and a greater battery and digital camera than the iPhone 7 he had been utilizing.

“Up until now I’d only ever bought new phones, this is my first time buying used,” the 23-year-old mentioned. “The new models are expensive.”

Even after the value hikes, the iPhone 14 bought in Japan is the most affordable amongst 37 international locations when tax is taken into consideration, MM Research Institute mentioned in a September survey. More yen weak spot may immediate Apple to boost costs once more, the analysis agency mentioned, probably denting its hefty 50% share of Japan’s smartphone market.

The newest iPhones at the moment are priced above the 100,000 yen stage that could be a “major psychological barrier” for a lot of buyers, mentioned Daisuke Inoue, chief government of Belong Inc, a unit of buying and selling home Itochu Corp. that sells used telephones and tablets on-line.

Average gross sales on Belong’s Nicosuma e-commerce website have trebled since Apple raised costs in July in comparison with the common over the earlier three months, Inoue mentioned. At Belong’s operations centre exterior of Tokyo, shipments of used telephones had been unboxed and sorted earlier than being inspected, graded and cleaned by rows of staff at lengthy tables.

The telephones had been then photographed from a number of angles on the market on-line. Belong makes use of Itochu’s international community to assist it supply used gadgets each in Japan and abroad, relying on the place the perfect costs are, Inoue mentioned.

Some of the gadgets are purchased from companies, comparable to tablets beforehand used for funds in cafes or shows in taxis, he mentioned.

Many Japanese have historically been cautious of secondhand gadgets, together with electronics, however that’s altering.

Marketplace website Mercari has seen robust progress in gross sales of used smartphones, whereas gross sales of residence home equipment and electronics have additionally grown, a Mercari, Inc spokesperson mentioned.

With Japan open once more to international vacationers, the secondhand iPhone market is getting one other increase.

Retail chain Iosys Co Ltd has seen a surge in international vacationers shopping for used iPhones within the final two months.

“The yen just keeps weakening,” mentioned Iosys government Takashi Okuno. “That trend of visiting Japan and buying an iPhone is coming back.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022.