In a column appearing on BusinessWeek today, Ian Rowley looks at the popularity of Apple’s iPod in Japan. He writes: “It seems iPod mania is alive and well in Japan — one of the most competitive consumer-electronics markets on the planet. Despite an array of well-entrenched Japanese rivals, such as Sony and Matsushita (MC), the iPod had cornered 51.3% of the digital-music player market as of the end of 2005, up from about 32% in 2004, according to research firm BCN. Sony was a distant second with 16.2%, while Panasonic grabbed just 8.2% of the market.”