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With Declining Yen, Tech-Obsessed Japan Purchases Used iPhones

With Declining Yen, Tech-Obsessed Japan Purchases Used iPhones
A falling yen has made new iPhones out of reach for some consumers and sparked a growing secondhand trade in a significant market for Apple Inc. For years, Japanese consumers eagerly paid top dollar for the newest gadgets.
The Japanese yen's decline to a 32-year low against the dollar has put pressure on consumers and sped up a wider shift in spending in the third-largest economy in the world. Industry observers claim that, in part because of the growth of online auction sites, Japanese consumers are now more willing to purchase used goods.
Apple increased the cost of the entry-level iPhone 13 by almost a fifth in July. Later, the entry-level iPhone 14 launched for 20% more than the iPhone 13 did, even though the U.S. price remained constant at $799.
This year, as the dollar has risen against other currencies, the yen has been particularly hard hit, falling 22%.
Apple has not responded to the situation, but in a regulatory filing last month, the company stated that the weak yen caused Japan sales for the year ending September 24 to decline by 9%.
Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri also admitted to analysts last month that the strong dollar had increased product prices in some nations, but that sales in Indonesia, Vietnam, and other markets with difficult currencies had still increased by double digits.
According to the technology market research firm MM Research Institute, used smartphone sales in Japan increased by almost 15% to a record 2.1 million in the most recent fiscal year and are anticipated to reach 3.4 million by 2026.
When taxes are taken into account, the iPhone 14 sold in Japan remains the least expensive of the 37 countries, according to a September survey by the MM Research Institute. According to the research firm, further yen weakness could lead Apple to increase prices once more, which could reduce its sizable 50% market share of smartphones in Japan.
According to Daisuke Inoue, CEO of Belong Inc., a division of trading company Itochu Corp. that sells used smartphones and tablets online, the most recent iPhones are now priced above the 100,000 yen mark, which is a "major psychological barrier" for many consumers.
According to Inoue, average Nicosuma sales have tripled since Apple increased prices in July compared to the average for the previous three months.
Shipments of used phones were unboxed and sorted at Belong's operations center outside of Tokyo before being examined, graded, and cleaned by rows of employees seated at long tables.
The phones were then captured in various angles for online sale. According to where the best prices are, Belong uses Itochu's global network to help it source used devices both in Japan and abroad, according to Inoue.
According to him, some of the technology is purchased from companies, such as tablets that were formerly used in taxi displays or for payments in cafes.
Although many Japanese people have historically been leery of used goods, including electronics, this is changing.
Used smartphone sales on the marketplace website Mercari have increased significantly, and sales of electronics and home appliances have also increased, according to a Mercari, Inc spokesperson.
With Japan once more welcoming to visitors from abroad, the market for used iPhones is expanding.
In the past two months, used iPhone sales from foreign tourists have increased, according to retail chain Iosys Co Ltd.
"The yen just keeps weakening," said Iosys executive Takashi Okuno. "That trend of visiting Japan and buying an iPhone is coming back."

Christopher J. Mitchell

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