In A World Dominated By Smartphones, Japanese Consumers Cling To Flip-Phones

Your fancy pants smartphone might be able to play games like Angry Birds and stream movies from Netflix, but in Japan, it's just another overpriced device with a shrinking audience. Taking their place are those clamshell phones that your pop still uses. It seems crazy, but flip-phone shipments in Japan went up in 2014 for the first time in seven years.

Citing data from MM Research Institute Ltd, Reuters says that smartphone shipments fell a full 5.3 percent to 27.7 million units, down for a second year in a row. Meanwhile, flip-phone shipments rose by almost the same percentage -- 5.7 percent to 10.58 million units.

Flip Phone
Image Source: Flickr (Shahbano Khushi)

These aren't exactly the same phones you've long since recycled. In Japan, they're called "Galapagos," after the Galapagos Islands, because they've evolved to meet the needs of Japanese consumers. They're also comparatively inexpensive, which is one of the big reasons why they're so popular.

Among the developed nations, smartphone fees are among the highest in Japan, while flip-phones sit on the opposite end of the spectrum and are among the lowest. As such, mobile phone users in Japan have grown to be content with the voice calling, email, and basic Internet services that these lower cost devices offer.