The country has emerged as the fastest-growing region for Apple, outpacing the U.S., China, and other countries. Apple's success in the country is attributed to branding, heavy marketing, and rich subsidies.
"Apple's brand is just overwhelming here," said Eiji Mori, a Tokyo-based analyst at BCN Inc. "It's not about specifications. It's not about rationale. It's about owning an iPhone."
Notably, sales are expected to rise thanks to the addition of NTT DoCoMo as an official carrier.
Sales got another boost in late September when NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan's largest wireless carrier, began offering the iPhone for the first time to its 61.8 million customers. Even before that, the iPhone was Japan's best-selling smartphone, with a 37% market share in the six months ended Sept. 30, according to Tokyo's MM Research Institute. That's comparable to the iPhone's 36% share in the U.S. in the third quarter, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
Apple's iPad is also doing well in the country, capturing over 50% of the tablet market.
Cowen & Co director Timothy Arcuri predicts that Apple will sell 11-12 iPhones in Japan this year. That's about double its sales from 2012. Arcuri believes that number will grow to 20 million in 2014.
"They're going to be close to 50% market share next year" in Japan, said Mr. Arcuri.