Japan’s Jorte aspires to be a calendar for everyone

Japan’s Jorte aspires to be a calendar for everyone

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With over 20 million downloads under its belt, Jorte is perhaps Japan’s most successful calendar app. Speaking as more of a power user who integrates a number of tools – Fantastical and Drafts – as a composite solution for my daily schedule, Jorte is not for me. I think it’s a mobile design disaster of overcrowded text [1], but interestingly, it seems makes a lot of sense to mainstream users.

And that’s who Jorte is trying to serve.

Jorte founder and CEO Koichi Shimohana
Jorte founder and CEO Koichi Shimohana

When I spoke to Jorte representatives recently, including founder and CEO Koichi Shimohana, I was told that their aim is not to appeal to geeks, but rather to build a calendar app that the general public would use. And that approach appears to have been very successful considering its large userbase [2]. By implementing a more accessible, traditional-looking calendar design, Jorte is casting its net very wide. Here in Japan that strategy already has brought in a big catch, with still some room to grow domestically.

Jorte started on Android in 2010, and so far 90% of their users are on that platform. The Jorte iOS app, released in late 2012, is just catching up to its Android counterpart in terms of features, but iPhone users certainly represent a growth opportunity. I’m told that the company is shooting for 35 million users overall by the end of this year.

Unlike most calendar apps, Jorte has taken more of a content-based approach with its product. There are an incredible amount of things that you can import and track, such as the schedule of your favorite baseball team, your neighborhood’s garbage/recycling pick-up schedule, or a DVD rental release calendar. The company has more than 50 partners providing 10,000 of such ‘interest calendars’. I understand that one of their possible business models is to give a priority listing position to a company or content provider in a certain category [3].

As for Jorte’s overseas performance, it’s global user breakdown is as follows:

jorte-white

Obviously in order to do well abroad, proper localization will be key. And to date Jorte has wisely made use of its user community assist with that effort over on its translation project home page. In the app’s English version, certain UI text still needs work before they can make a serious push to US and European markets. Jorte faces competition from Naver and Daum in Korea, but the size of the Android market there is obviously a very attractive one.

If you’d like to try out Jorte for yourself, I encourage you to give it a try. You can get it for free over on the App Store or on Google Play.


  1. There are options to adjust and customize, but for me, it’s a bit too troublesome.  ↩

  2. On iOS, my guess if that that more people use the default calendar app. But I always see Jorte ranking quite high among calendar apps in the productivity category, typically in the top three.  ↩

  3. Other monetization methods include paid icon sets, background sets, and more.  ↩