Smartphone penetration at 40% in Japan, survey says iPhone most favored

Yukari Mitsuhashi by Yukari Mitsuhashi on 2013.2.8

sdjapan_smartphonepenetration2012

If you hop on any train in Tokyo, you’ll notice that everywhere you look people are using a smartphone. But what is the actual smartphone penetration rate in Japan? I recently stumbled upon some data by Impress R&D where the company surveyed 85,000 internet users about their smartphone usage.

According to the survey, the smartphone penetration rate in Japan was 39.8% as of November 2012. That’s a significant increase from 22.9% in October 2011, and about a 10% increase from May of the same year, as you can see in the chart above. Most men and women in their 20s own smartphones: about 58.9% for men and 58.5% for women. Men in their 30s are the next highest demographic at 53.7%, followed by teenage boys.

Japan loves the iPhone

So what kind of smartphone do they use? It turns out Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone is the most popular with 31.5%. It’s followed by an assortment of Android runners-up: 12.1% have Sharp’s Aquos phone, 12% have Sony’s Xperia, 7.2% are using the Samsung Galaxy, and 6.0% opt for Fujitsu’s Arrows. In terms of operating systems, iOS accounts for 33.1% and Android makes up 66.4% — that’s a 5.5% increase for Android since last year for those of you keeping score at home.

Impress also asked about respondents’ use of social media. 38.7% responded that they use Facebook (compared to 25.4% last year) and 37.9% use Twitter (40.6% last year). According to another survey focusing on Facebook usage in Asian countries, Japan ranked fifth with 16.35 million estimated users [1]. Surprisingly, more and more people are using Facebook, and many of them appear to be moving on from Twitter.

The ever-growing mobile chat application Line place placed third with 33.9% of respondents using the service. Although in a recent MMD Laboratory survey of 670 respondents, Line came out as the most favored social service.

The most common usage of smartphones is texting or email according to 28% of respondents, followed by browsing the web and talking 14.2%, followed by social media at 13.2%.


  1. SocialBakers currently puts the number at about 13.8 million, so take both these totals with a grain of salt.  ↩

Yukari Mitsuhashi

Yukari Mitsuhashi

Yukari is a tech writer based in Tokyo, with previous experience working with a few startups in Japan. She also supervised the Japanese caption and narration of the movie “Social Network”. She aspires to contribute to Japanese startup scene by what she does best: writing. Find her on Twitter, at @yukari77.

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