Samsung phones going on sale in Japan this week will not carry the company’s logo, but instead will be co-branded with the two mobile carriers who are launching them.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, which are available in the country from 23 April, will instead be marketed as the Docomo Galaxy and au Galaxy, according to the English-language Korea Herald newspaper.
“We think the Galaxy brand has been well established in Japan,” the paper quoted a Samsung official as saying.
The decision comes against a long background of tense diplomatic relations between Japan and Samsung’s native South Korea, which have cooled further since the election in 2012 in Japan of prime minister Shinzo Abe, a conservative nationalist.
That tension spills over into the economic realm, and is part of the reason Samsung has struggled to gain a foothold in Japan. The company took just 5% of the smartphone market in Japan, despite having 25% globally, according to Counterpoint Research. Apple leads Japan with 51% of the market, and almost the entirety of the rest of the market is dominated by Japanese firms such as Fujitsu, Sharp and Sony. And Samsung’s position is weakening over time, down from 16% in May 2014.
Samsung branding is already sparser in Japan than other countries. The Galaxy S5s sold in the country featured the carrier’s branding on the front of the phone in the place where the Samsung logo typically appears, but the name was still present in the typical location on the back of the phone.