Survey shows Japan switching to smartphones, but not as fast as you might think


Riding on the train here in Tokyo recently, I’m noticing more and more people using their smartphones, and less people using feature phones. It’s really interesting to see how things are changing. But for a more quantified view of what’s going on, let’s take look at a user survey conducted in March by IMJ exploring the current state of mobile in Japan.

According to this survey of 26,418 correspondents between the ages of 15 to 59, almost 52% say they own a feature phone, with about 41% owning a smartphone. 7.4% answered that they own both a feature phone and a smartphone. It’s interesting to note that before the smartphone network environment in Japan was really ready widespread public use, many people were forced to carry both kinds in order to make up for frequent bad reception.

In terms of age segement, teenagers and people in their 20s are more likely to own advanced smartphone in comparison to feature phones.

From, labels translated by SD Japan

When asked about switching from feature phones to smartphones, 39.4% of feature phone owners answered that they plan to changing to a smartphone, and 31% plan to do so within the next six months. But there are still some people who plan to stick with feature phones. Of those, 14.4% responded that they would even switch to another featured phone, and 44.4% have no plans to switch. About 56% of existing smartphone users wish to switch to an even newer smartphone.

Within two years, the number of feature phone user is estimated to decline to about 44%. By age segment, the smartphone penetration rate among teenagers and people in their 20s is predicted to go as high as 60%. But among the older generation, for example, 56% of people in their 50s will likely still carry feature phones two years from now. So even though almost all the mobile phones sold by the major carriers in Japan are now smartphones, feature phones will still linger because a high portion of Japan’s very old population doesn’t see any need to change.