For the first time, more people are buying smartphones than basic cellphones in Japan. In terms of usage, text messaging trails behind email, apps and mobile browsers.

Smartphone Sales in Japan Outstrip Bottom-of-the-Range Mobiles


In February 2012, the number of smartphones purchased in Japan surpassed sales of ‘feature phones’ – basic mobile phone models. A ComScore study reveals that one in five mobile phone users aged thirteen or over in Japan now owns a smartphone, i.e. 19.3 million out of 101.7 million people. Smartphones using the Android platform accounted for the majority (61.4%) of the smartphone market, followed by Apple with 34.2% of the market and Microsoft with 3.9%.

Online uses

The ComScore figures show that the number one use of mobile devices – whether Smartphone or non-smart basic phones – for Japanese people aged thirteen or over is on the Internet. Some 56.7% of those surveyed said their main use of the phones was sending and receiving emails, followed by apps (55.4%) and then mobile browsers (52.4%). Sending text messages comes fourth in line (45.4%), while 23.3% use their phone to obtain news. Lower down the list, 19.5% of those polled said they use the mobile device as a means of accessing social networking sites or blogs, 19% of them use it to look at maps and 18.8% of them to watch video or television on line.

A patriotic market

It’s interesting to note thatthe Japanese have a strong preference for buying Japanese-made brands. Sharp is the top Original Equipment Manufacturer for mobile devices (whether smartphones or basic cellphones), with a 23.5% market share, followed by Panasonic (13.8%), Fujitsu (11.8%), NEC (9.7%) and Sony (7.5%). So the top five OEMs are all Japanese. Apple is currently in eighth position, with just a 6.5% market share. However, Apple is showing the strongest growth among OEMs – sales were up 1.6% over the three months from November 2011.