HONG KONG: Foreign brands dominate Japan's smartphone market, according to latest data, with Apple the market leader.

The findings are contained in Counterpoint Research's Country Market Share Report for Q4 2012, which shows that Apple accounted for 16% of shipments in the final quarter of 2012 and 15% over the whole year.

And with brands such as Samsung, LG and Huawei also increasing share in Q4, the combined total share of foreign brands exceeded 50% in Japan for the first time.

Among domestic manufacturers, Sharp, previously the top brand, and Fujitsu each took 14% of the market in 2012.

The success of overseas brands is in part a result of fierce competition between telecoms operators.

Softbank and KDDI used heavy promotion of the iPhone 5 in order to challenge rival Docomo, which responded in turn with a raft of new smartphones, most of which were also foreign brands.

In addition, local Japanese brands have been slow to introduce globally accredited operating systems like Android, having long preferred to offer phones running operator-friendly or vendor-proprietary operating systems.

Japanese smartphone owners are more likely than any other nationality to go online, according to Deloitte, the services firm. In a recent poll of over 10,000 smartphone users in 15 markets, Deloitte found that 92% in Japan go online more than once a week on this device, compared with 85% in the US and 79% in the UK.

Data sourced from Counterpoint/Deloitte; additional content by Warc staff