Japanese shoppers are less likely to buy used iPhone models because of the falling yen

For years, Japanese shoppers were eager to buy the latest gadgets, but now the falling yen has shut some people out of new iPhones and fueled a growing second-hand trade. increased in a major Apple market.

Japan’s domestic currency fell to a 32-year low against the dollar, squeezing consumers and spurring a broader spending shift in the world’s No 3 economy. Industry watchers say Japanese shoppers have become more open to buying second-hand, thanks in part to the rise of online auction sites.

In July, Apple price increase of entry level iPhone 13″ almost one-fifth. Basic iPhone 14″ then launched at 20% more than the iPhone 13, even if the US price remained unchanged at $799 (about Rs 65,400). While the dollar has strengthened against global currencies this year, the yen has been particularly affected, falling 22%.

Salaryman Kaoru Nagase wants a new phone but can’t justify the price of an iPhone 14, which starts at 119,800 JPY (about Rs 66,800). Instead, he bought a used one iPhone SE 2 in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district for less than a third.

“For more than 100,000 yen, the iPhone 14 is too expensive and I can’t afford it. It’s fine if the battery lasts for 10 years,” he said. The iPhone SE 2, released in 2020 but without the iPhone 14’s dual rear cameras, is a “good balance” between cost 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 the weakening of the yen.

Apple’s chief financial officer, Luca Maestri, also acknowledged to analysts last month that a strong dollar has led to an increase in the prices of its products in some countries, but sales are still up by two numbers in Indonesia, Vietnam and other markets are facing currency challenges.

According to technology market research firm MM Research Institute, sales of used smartphones increased by nearly 15% in Japan to a record 2.1 million in the last financial year and is likely to hit the market. 3.4 million by 2026, according to technology market research firm MM Research Institute.

100,000 yen barrier

Taishin Chonan bought a used iPhone 13 after the screen cracked on one of the two devices he brought with him for personal use. The alternative has a higher resolution, better battery and camera than the iPhone 7 he is using.

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

The MM Research Institute said that even after the price increase, the iPhone 14 sold in Japan is still the cheapest of the 37 countries without tax, MM Research Institute said in a survey in September. The company The research adds that a weakening yen could prompt Apple to raise prices once again, potentially reducing its smartphone share of the Japanese market by 50%.

Daisuke Inoue, chief executive officer of Belong Inc, a unit of trader Itochu Corp that specializes in selling used phones and tablets online, said the latest iPhones are currently priced at over JPY1,000. . .

Average sales on Belong’s e-commerce site Nicosuma have tripled since Apple raised prices in July from the average for the previous three months, Inoue said. At Belong’s operations center outside Tokyo, shipments of used phones are unboxed and sorted before being inspected, sorted and cleaned by rows of workers sitting at long tables.

These phones are then photographed from various angles for sale online. Inoue said Belong uses Itochu’s global network to deliver used devices both in Japan and overseas, depending on where the best prices are.

Some of the devices are purchased from businesses, such as tablets previously used for payments in cafes or display screens in taxis, he said.

Many Japanese have traditionally been wary of second hand items, including electronics, but that is changing.

Mercari commerce site has seen strong growth in sales of used smartphones, while sales of home appliances and electronics have also grown, said a Mercari spokesperson, Inc said.

With Japan reopening to foreign tourists, the used iPhone market is getting an extra boost.

Retail chain Iosys Co Ltd has seen the number of foreign tourists buying used iPhones skyrocket in the past two months.

“The yen continues to weaken,” said Iosys CEO Takashi Okuno. “The trend to visit Japan and buy an iPhone is making a comeback.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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