Mobile Usage in Japan

I wrote this post last year about mobile usage in Japan here, this is a follow up post to dig in more about actual usage.

==Media access (survey result)==

To start off, let's take a look at a recent survey "Media Periodic Research 2009" conducted by the Environment Laboratory of Hakuhodo DY Media Partners and was reported by CNet Japan. The research was conducted with male/female 15-69 years of age, living in Tokyo, Osaka and Kouchi prefecture. (Tokyo and Osaka are the cities, Kouchi is rural area of Japan.) Research method was by traditional mail with the 1,919 samples.

Tokyo research report shows that the total media access (including TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, PC and mobile Internet) had the average of 5hours 24minutes per day which is slightly longer than last year despite the recent tendency of the numbers going down. It is suspected that because of the depression, people are staying at home accessing the medeia.

TV 163.5min Radio 31.1min Newspaper 26.0min Magazines 17.6min PC Internet 67.6min Mobile Internet 18.1min. As for the male in their twenties, TV was 110.9min whereas PC Internet was 116.1min- it was the first time Internet usage exceeded TV. Also notable is that the teenage female uses mobile Internet 98.4min whereas female in their twenties uses only 26.2min which shows a clear difference by the generation.

Media access hours per day (comparison by gender/age)

==Overview of Japanese Mobile Makert==

Next, let me introduce the presentation file of an overview of Japanese Mobile Makert by Mr. Gen Miyazawa presented at an event called Geeks on a Plane. Background and keypoints, quote from an article on TechCrunch.

* Japan boasts 100 million 3G users (size of the population: 127 million).
* 3G penetration rate: 96% (3.5G penetration rate: 35%).
* iPhone is doing relatively well in Japan, but it’s not killing.
* Japan’s mobile web traffic still grows faster than the PC traffic.
* Size of the mobile e-commerce market: around $1.2 billion (data from July 2008).
* Biggest players in the mobile web only-field: Mobagetown (13 million members) and GREE (10 million members).

==How long do the children use mobile phones?==

According to a survey by Benesse Corporation (November 2008, 5th grader to 2nd year of high school, traditional mail, 8017 samples) the average length of the children using mobile phones each day is as follows.

Data source:Benesse via an article on IMPRESS

You can see how the usage jumps up when they enter high schools.

==SNS usage in Japan is largely mobile==

Japan's largest SNS is mixi[ja] with 16.83 million users, their monthly PV[ja] of mobile is more than double of that of PC as of end of March 2009.

mobile(orange) 11.1 billion PV/month
PC(pink) 4.25 billion PV/month
total 15.36billion PV/month

GREE[ja] is the second largest SNS in Japan, with 10million users and 12.18 billion PV per month. Mixi's domination of the market was so strong that they changed their strategy to focus on mobile and their PVs[ja] looks like this. Most of their PV is mobile (blue) not PC(pink).

==Mobile website users' demographics==

This is a chart that shows the ratio of "heavy users(more than once a day)" of Mobile Internet, data from an article on Markezine.

Ratio of "heavy users(more than once a day)" of Mobile Internet
(datasource: "Keitai 2009 edition" by Video Research Interactive)

More than half of the teenagers and the twenties are heavy users whereas people over 30 years have a different tendency.

Further looking into the data and extracting the people who uses Internet only via mobile is interesting(upper column). Breakdown by gender is as follows. Male teenagers and all of the female except fifties exceeds the total data(lower column). Heavy mobile users can be said to be younger generation and women in Japan.

Mobile Internet Users' demographics
(datasource: "Keitai 2009 edition" by Video Research Interactive)

This is a chart that shows "where" people are using mobile phones to check out mobile websites, from article on Markezine[ja].

Venues for Mobile Internet
(datasource: "Keitai 2009 edition" by Video Research Interactive)

"PC heavy users (blue)" refers to mobile Internet users who use PC Internet everyday, and "PC light users (red)" refers to mobile Internet users who does not use PC Internet everyday. PC site heavy users use mobile Internet outside of the house more whereas light users uses more at their houses.

In what situation do people use mobile Internet in their houses?

PC light users' usage of mobile Internet at home
(datasource: "Keitai 2009 edition" by Video Research Interactive)

The usage with higher scores are while they are "relaxing" and "before going to bed".

Then what are people doing with mobile phones outside of their houses? Research company ishare conducted a survey on their panel (internet users) at the age of 20-49 (687samples) and there was an article in CNet[ja] on this survey. Note that this survey does not include teenagers.

When asked whether they use mobile phones outside other than voice calls, 23.3% answered often, 39.9% answered they use it sometimes. In total 63.2% answered they have used it, the breakdowns being 68.1% with female which was 8.9points higher than male. The higher the age is the higher ratio of the users.

When asked what exactly they are doing, the replies were "mail"(65.9%) "watch news"(55.3%). Female's top was "mail"(76.3%) and male was "watch news"(63.2%). Games were scored 3rd with the higher ratio with the respondants in their twenties.

==Location Games==

As for the specific sites that are used, following is the data (a bit old- data on 08/11/12 from Nikkei IT PLUS[ja]) and mobile website with the largest PV is casual gaming site Mobage-Town which is majorly targeting the younger generation.

Recently, Location-based games for adults are getting attraction. Article on Nikkei IT Plus [ja]. For example, a free mobile game "Colony Life Plus" (Colopla) is one of them. Users of Colopla would exist in a "colony space" and create their own "town" where they build buildings and secure water and food and make the town evolve. It might sound similar to Sim City, but the difference is that in order to proceed with the game, the users has to physically MOVE.

Users pay "Pla" (in-game currency) to buy land and buildings. The more the user moves, the more "Pla" they can gain- which is calculated by GPS function.

There are around 5,000 in-game items, and there are "rare items" which only the people who went to specific places can get.

According to an article on CNet Japan[ja], there are 200,000 players of Colopla and monthly PV is 280million as of May. 70% of their users are 20-49 years of age (which is very rare for mobile game demographic in Japan). Their major revenue source is donation from the users (which is another rare case), they also have affiliate ads and sponsorships. They do not acquire users' personal information (which is very rare too)- no username, no nickname, no email address, nothing.

Another example of location game is "Keitai Kunitori Gassen" which is provided by Mapion, a map service company. CNet Japan has an article[ja] on this. Japan is divided into 600 "countries" and the users will register to each country and start conquering countries by visiting those areas (like stamp rally). The more conquers, the more status you get in-game. There are also quiz about history and if you have good scores you can get in-game currency called "koban" which enables you to buy avatar items.

Some users even visits small islands far away. There are more than 60 users who conquered all of the 600 countries.

There are 230,000 users as of June. Active rate (logged in within 1 week) is 60%. Male 60% Female 40%, 33% of the total is over 35 years of age, and only less than 4% is under 19 years old. 50% are employees, and 33% of the users lives in Tokyo. As you have to travel around the country, you need to be wealthy enough to travel around. Users seems to enjoy the game while they travel around for business.

Both Colopla and Keitai Kunitori Gassen is trying to get corporate partnerships with various companies. Colopla is partnering with traditional shops so that the users would visit them, Keitai Kunitori Gassen is partnering with JR (Japan Railways) and Gurunavi (a large gourmet site).

Honda and So-net(SONY) launched location based games as well.

==What will happen to our privacy?==

Aoyama Gakuin University announced that they will distribute iPhone 3G to all of the 550 freshmen and Sophomores majoring in Social Information. They will 1) use iPhone 3G to use mail system, groupwares and distribute documents and text materials, check attendance, conduct minitests, and distribute recordings of the lectures 2) Students in the earlier years are expected to find useful applications from App store and propose a new lifestyle 3) Students in the later years are expected to develop websites and application systems. They expect those ideas and developments will be usable with iPhone 3G and be distributed in the global market.

Source: Cnet Japan[ja]

According to an [ja] article on Sankei Newspaper, one of the aims of this project is to use the location information function and prevent them from pretending that they are attending the classes (some people ask their friends to reply to the professor on their behalf).

Hmm personally I'd rather not have anyone else know about where I am etc...

According to a blogger - Oquno[ja], when he was a highschool student, teachers handed them cellphones during school trips and they were told that the teacher were keeping track of the location data via that phone later on.

This is even more creepy. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is trying to start an experiment from this Autumn to avoid pandemic using GPS function of the cell phones to keep track of the users. They plan to get 2,000 monitors and log their location data on the database. If any of the monitor gets infected by disease, they will check all of the monitor's historical location data. They can check who was on the same train or bus and might have been infected of the disease and inform them by emails.

Source: Asahi.com

NTT DoCoMo has started a B2B service called "Wellness Support". NTT Docomo will collect vital data from pedometer of the cellphones and bloodpressure gauge etc of the employees when their employer registers to Welness Support service. The employees will be able to receive advice from health nurses and nutritionists.

So this means NTT DoCoMo is going to keep the logs of those personal data in their servers.

==No Mobile for children?==

There had been lots of issues around childrens' bullying using mobile phones. One example is that children writes bad things about a specific child on the "underground school site", another is "3 minute rule" which forces the children to reply to emails within 3 minutes, etc. Some of the children even committed suicide because of such bullies.

As I have written in my previous post, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has requested elementary and junior highschools all over Japan to prohibit the children from bringing in cell phones to schools, and highschools to prohibit usage of cell phones in schools.

In Ishikawa prefecture, a local government regulations to prohibit the elementary school and junior highschool students to purchase and own cell phones has passed the local government on 6/29. The parents are obliged to make necessary efforts to keep this regulation.

On the other hand, a private school called Suma Gakuen[ja] (junior high and highschool) in Kobe City is planning to provide a "school cellphone (just like school uniforms)" to their students- starting 2010 at the earliest.

According to a survey conducted by Suma Gakuen to their students, 92% of them own mobile phones, and the school decided that "as it is natural that the children owns cellphones nowadays, it is better to teach them rules and manners rather than prohibiting them to own it." Suma Gakuen will provide children cellphones that has special settings that the children cannot access harmful sites. They will not only prohibit access to certain sites, but will add English education programs using audio and other education materials so that the mobile phone will be beneficial for school education. Usage in the schools other than classes are going to be prohibited. They say in case of emergency, they can check the email history via the server that the school sets up, and use GPS-based location system if the students and/or parents wishes to utilize.

According to a questionnaire towards the students, 39% of the students replied they need cell phones for their school life, 31% replied they don't want to use cell phones provided by the school (as they feel they will be managed by the school).

Source: AsahiNewspaper, CNet blog