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In the United States, the Nexus 7 has seen a decent bit of success, but nothing like Apple’s iPad line of tablets. The iPad is the dominant tablet in the States, and it’s winning by a large margin. You might be surprised to learn, though, that there are places the iPad doesn’t have such a commanding lead. In Japan, home to some of the most tech-smart consumers in the world, the entire iPad line has recently been knocked out of the top spot by Google’s Nexus 7, which launched in the summer of 2012.

Why is this a big deal? Because this is the first time any tablet has wrestled the top spot away from the iPad since the device first launched in 2010.

According to the Nikkei newswire, BCN surveyed over 2,400 electronics stores in Japan and determined that the Nexus 7 had nabbed 44.4 percent of the tablet market for the month of December. The iPad fell to second place, securing 40.1 percent. Before the Nexus 7’s launch, the iPad held over 50 percent of the tablet market in Japan.

What’s behind this phenomenon? Nikkei’s report points to price as a major factor for Japanese tablet buyers. The Nexus 7 is around $100 cheaper than the iPad mini in Japan, and much, much less expensive than the iPad with Retina. Still, there was some demand for Apple’s smaller iPad, but the difficulties the company experienced in meeting demand for the iPad mini helped the Nexus 7 sell more units.

Outside of the iPad line and the Nexus 7, tablets from other manufacturers could only gain a small foothold in the market — around 2 to 3 percent.

It’ll be interesting to see if these numbers change in the coming months, or if Google can hold on to the top spot with the Nexus 7. Now that we’re out of the holiday season, demand for the iPad mini should taper off a little bit, which will help the company meet demand. There are also rumors floating around that new iPads could be introduced in the next couple of months  (iPad with Retina S or iPad mini S, anyone?). If such products are released, the Nexus 7 could see its lead evaporate. Of course, Google might have a few surprises of its own.

Stay tuned.


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