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Usage Patterns

Total Online Population (000's) in 2012 101,229
Percentage of Population Online in 2012 79.5%


There were 101,228,736 internet users in Japan (representing 79.5% of the population) at mid-year 2012 (30 June 2012), according to Internet World Stats. (Internet World Stats, December 2012)

95.7 million people will use the internet in Japan by 2013, according to eMarketer. This would be up from 92.3 million in 2009.

Internet users in Japan 2008-2013:
- 2008: 90.7 million
- 2009: 92.3 million
- 2010: 93.4 million
- 2011: 94.2 million
- 2012: 95.0 million
- 2013: 95.7 million

(eMarketer, May 2009)


Hunting out the best deals is truly a global activity. In April 2011, Groupon reached more than 1 million unique visitors (age 15+ home/work location) in 12 markets across the globe. The US saw the largest audience reaching 10.4 million visitors, but Japan and Taiwan made the list of the top ten largest markets for Groupon reaching nearly 1.6 and 1.2 million visitors, respectively.

Top ten markets by total unique visitors to Groupon (age 15+ home/work location):
1.  United States: 10,414,000
2. France: 3,619,000
3. Brazil: 2,501,000
4. United Kingdom: 2,351,000
5. Poland: 2,256,000
6. Germany: 1,846,000
7. Japan: 1,581,000
8. Canada: 1,407,000
9. Italy: 1,263,000
10. Taiwan: 1,192,000

(comScore Data Mine, June 2011)

Mobile Commerce

Japan shows potential for mobile commerce, according to Morgan Stanley. 19% (and rising) of Rakuten's online commerce revenue in 4th quarter of 2009 derived from mobile.  Rakuten Ichiba is Japan's leading eCommerce company (eCommerce revenue excludes travel, includes books and auctions).

% mobile share of total Rakuten's online commerce revenue, 2004-2009:
- 2004: 4%
- 2005: 7%
- 2006: 10%
- 2007: 14%
- 2008: 16%
- 2009: 18%

(Morgan Stanley Internet Trends Presentation at CM Summit - New York City on SlideShare, June 2010)


Online Travel Market

Travel Booking

Japan's dominance as Asia Pacific's largest travel market has come to an end, marking a major milestone for the region as an emerging China assumes the top spot. Yet Japan's online leisure/unmanaged business travel market, by far APAC's largest, will sustain double-digit growth through 2014, according to a PhoCusWright's Japan Online Travel Overview Report.

Japan's travel industry has endured numerous challenges to growth for some time now, but the country's substantial online travel market should not be written off, according to Douglas Quinby, senior director, research. He added that by 2015, the value of Japan's online travel gross bookings will still be more than double that of China.

Air is Japan's fastest-growing travel segment, as the emergence of several low-cost airline carriers (LCCs), some backed by local legacy players, helps to spur air travel demand. In the online arena, supplier websites - aided by LCC gains - will grow faster than online travel agencies through 2015. (PhoCusWright FYI, March 2013)

Japan's digital travel sales (which include online, tablet and smartphone bookings) will grow from about $46 billion in 2012 to $54.2 billion by 2016, according to eMarketer's estimates. (eMarketer, February 2013)

Japan's online travel bookings are projected to exceed US$31 billion in 2012, according to PhoCusWright's Japan Online Travel Traffic Report (a Global and Asia Pacific Edition publication).

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) attracted an average of 11.3 million monthly unique visitors in Japan in May - July 2011. Approximately a third of all travel category visitors visited an OTA site in this period. Travel information sites (the second-most frequented online travel category in Japan) averaged 7.1 million monthly unique visitors in May - July 2011. Supplier sites, in contrast, typically attract far fewer visitors. While airlines lead among supplier websites in Japan, they attract less than half the visitors as OTAs. Other supplier website categories (ground transportation, hotel and car rental websites) trail even further.

Within the travel categories that attract the most visitors (and in fact, across all travel website categories), it is local, not global companies that dominate. Among the ten most popular OTAs in the country, nine are local companies (Expedia Japan ranks eighth). (PhoCusWright, February 2012)

Mobile Devices

Mobile / Smartphones

102.7 million people age 13 and older used mobile devices in Japan (feature phone and smartphone devices) for the three-month average period ending in June 2012, according to comScore.

The study surveyed more than 4,000 Japanese mobile subscribers and found Sharp to be the top mobile handset manufacturer overall with 22.6% market share. Google's Android platform accounted for the majority of smartphone market at 64.1%, followed by Apple with 32.3% of the market.

More than 24 million people in Japan owned smartphones during the three months ending in June 2012, representing 23.5% of the entire mobile population. Smartphone adoption has increased rapidly in 2012, growing 43% versus the end of 2011. Android's share of the smartphone market reached 64.1% (up 1.9 percentage points versus March), while Apple ranked second with 32.3% of the smartphone market, followed by Microsoft, which accounted for 3.2% share in June 2012.

Mobile owners were more likely to use an application (54.7%) than a mobile browser (50.8%), while 46.9% sent a text message to another phone during the month. 1 in 3 mobile users accessed weather information on their phone, while 29.9% accessed search during June. (comScore, August 2012)

In 2012, South Korea is poised to outstrip Japan for the highest percentage worldwide of mobile phone users accessing the mobile internet, at 63%, according to eMarketer. Japan level will stand at 62%. It is not until 2014 that Japan will begin to catch up.

Mobile internet users and penetration in Japan, 2010-2016:
- 2010: 55.4 million (53.0% of mobile phone users)
- 2011: 60.3 million (57.0%)
- 2012: 66.3 million (62.0%)
- 2013: 73.6 million (68.0%)
- 2014: 80.3 million (73.5%)
- 2015: 87.2 million (79.0%)
- 2016: 93.1 million (84.0%)

(eMarketer, August 2012)

Business visitors to Kyoto will now have free access to Wi-Fi throughout the city. The scheme, which is the largest municipal scheme in Japan, is being launched in a bid to satisfy the needs of smart phone and tablet computer users attending conference and meeting events.

After a long period of planning and deployment, routers installed across Kyoto will provide 630 Wi-Fi hotspots and allow up to 3 hours of internet connection by delegates. If the scheme is successful, then access could be made more widely available for longer periods of time for larger events.

The news has been welcomed by the Kyoto Convention Bureau believing that the installation of Wi-Fi routers across Kyoto offers big benefits to business visitors. It will meet their growing demands for internet access by providing them with excellent communication channels in the meeting and events environment. It means they can access online resources throughout Kyoto without gaps in connection, whilst being safe in the knowledge that the connection is secure. Free Wi-Fi access will only enhance delegate experience as on the move applications and the use of mobile devices is playing a more central role in meetings and conferences. (TravelDailyNews, July 2012)

A majority of smartphone users in Japan were accessing mobile social media on at least a monthly basis, according to March 2012 research from Google, undertaken in conjunction with Ipsos MediaCT and TNS Infratest.  The findings show that 47% of smartphone owners reportedly accessing social media via their device on a daily basis during March 2012.

Frequency of Mobile Social Media Usage in Japan, March 2012 (% of smartphone owners):
- Daily: 47%
- Weekly: 11%
- Monthly: 5%
- Less than monthly: 3%
- Never: 34%

(eMarketer, July 2012)

Mobile phones are incredibly widespread in Japan, but penetration and growth have levelled off as the number of users has steadily climbed above 100 million. eMarketer estimates that there will be 107 million mobile phone users in Japan at the end of 2012, accounting for 84% of the total population.

Meanwhile, smartphone ownership in Japan is kumping dramatically. eMarketer estimates that smartphone growth topped 180% in 2011, and expects 33% of mobile phone users to use a smartphone in 2012. According to a survey of mobile phone users from Nielsen's local Japan affiliate, as of March 2012, 26% of mobile phone users in Japan used a smartphone as their primary device. Feature phones still dominated the market, though, with a 63% share, followed my multimedia phones at 11%.

Nielsen found that smartphone users were significantly more likely than other mobile users to access social networks, at 55%, vs. 25% for multimedia phones and 15% for feature phones. In addition, smartphone applications and high-end cameras seem to have lead to an increased likelihood of users chatting via instant and video messages.

Expect smartphone users to dominate the mobile landscape in Japan in the near future. According to a May report from MM Research Institute, a local research firm in Japan, smartphones will account for three-quarters of all mobile phone shipments by fiscal year 2013, and 81.9% by fiscal year 2015. All those smartphone shipments add up when it comes to end-users. By 2016, eMarketer forecasts smartphone users to account for 83% of mobile phone users in Japan and to total 92 million. (eMarketer, June 2012)

101.7 million people age 13 and older used mobile devices in Japan (feature phone and smartphone devices) for the three-month average period ending in February 2012, according to comScore.

More than 19.3 million people in Japan owned smartphones during the three months ending in February 2012, up 28% versus November 2011. Android's share of the smartphone market reached 61.4%, while Apple ranked second with 34.2% of the smartphone market (up 1.3 percentage points versus November 2011), followed by Microsoft, which accounted for 3.9% in February 2012.

Analysis of selected activities consumers performed on their mobile phones found that 57.6 million users accessed email on their phone, representing more than half of all mobile phone users. Japanese mobile owners were more likely to use an application (55.4%) than a mobile browser (52.4%), while 45.4% sent a text message to another phone during the month. Nearly 1 in 5 mobile users accessed social networking or blog sites on their phone, while slightly less (18.8%) watched TV or video. (comScore, April 2012)

Smartphone ownership in Japan rose from 6% of the population in February 2011 to 17% in October 2011, according to a January 2012 report from Google.

Despite the surge, smartphone ownership in Japan was still roughly half that of the US, where 38% of the population owned smartphones in October 2011. However, smartphone owners in Japan used the devices to go online more frequently; nine in ten owners in Japan (88%)  logged on to the internet via their smartphone daily, compared to seven in ten in the US (69%) in October 2011.

Google highlighted the penetration in Japan of what it called "high-spec feature phones," which are mobile phones that might have any combination of advanced capabilities, including access to mobile-specific websites, GPS, mobile wallet features or mobile media, but are not full-fledged smartphones. The survey found that 65% of mobile phone owners in Japan had a high-spec feature phone in October 2011, down from 72% in February 2011.

eMarketer estimates that Japan will have 105.9 million mobile phone users in 2012, compared to 242.6 million in the US. (eMarketer, March 2012)

83% of people in Japan used a mobile phone in 2011, compared to 75.7% in the US, according to estimates by eMarketer.

Widespread 3G networks and popular, entertainment-focused feature phones have led users in Japan to look to their phones for entertainment as well as communication. Almost 80% of mobile phone users indicated they watched video on their device at least once or twice during the month, while nearly half of users watched more often, according to a December 2011 survey by goo Research.

The reach of mobile video, combined with the large screens on new smartphones and feature phones, will make mobile video more attractive to brands and advertisers in Japan. As a result, eMarketer estimates mobile ad spending in Japan will reach $1.7 billion in 2012, a 13.3% increase over 2011. (eMarketer, February 2012)

Males made up the majority of the smartphone owners in Japan at 61.5% of the total audience in October 2011, while those under the age of 35 accounted for more than half of all smartphone owners, according to comScore. 

Male smartphone owners(61.5%) in Japan represented nearly 9 million users in October 2011. Females made up the remaining 38.5% of the audience or 5.6 million users.

Half (51.8%) of smartphone owners are under the age of 35, with those age 25-34making up the largest proportion at 25.6% of the smartphone audience (3.7 million people).

The Kanto/Koushinestu region was home to the largest percentage of smartphone owners in Japan at 39.7% or nearly 5.8 million people. The Kansai region was home to 19.6% of smartphone owners in October, followed by Chubu (13.8%) and Kyushu (11.8%). (comScore, December 2011)

An estimated 94% of the population (aged between 16 and 59 years old) in Japan owns a cellphone, according to research by Netratings. In addition, more than half of internet users in the country also go online through their mobile phones.

Despite an obvious affinity for mobile devices in the country, smartphone uptake in Japan has lagged compared to other parts of the world until very recently. Now that iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android handsets are taking off, companies in the country are increasingly using the platform to reach out to their consumers. (nielsenwire, November 2011)

Japanese users are continuing to adopt smartphone devices, with Apple and Google platforms seeing significant increases in subscribers, according to comScore Japan KK.

Compared to other mobile markets such as the US and Europe, smartphone adoption (defined as those phones that use the Microsoft, Google, Apple, Symbian or Palm platforms) has remained relatively low in Japan. Recently, carriers and operating systems have made the push into Japan to introduce smartphones into this sophisticated mobile market. Analysis of smartphone adoption during December 2010 revealed that 7 million mobile users in Japan (7% of the total mobile market) are smartphone owners, an increase of 33.5% from September 2010 when comScore first introduced its MobiLens service into Japan. Many smartphones in Japan have advanced capabilities such as mobile wallet, 1seg TV and waterproof features, all of which encourage current feature phone users to switch to smartphone devices.

Smartphone and non-smartphone usage in Japan, December 2010 (Total Japan mobile audience Age 13+):
- Non-smartphone users: 93,925,000 (93.1% of total mobile audience)
- Smartphone users: 6,975,000 (6.9%)

When looking at smartphone platform adoption in Japan, the study found that Apple and Google account for the largest number of smartphone users. In December 2010, 3.8 million smartphone subscribers used Apple devices, up 48% from June 2010. Google Android devices witnessed a surge in users growing to more than 2 million in December 2010, up from just 435,000 users in June. (comScore, February 2011)

Japan is home to one of the most advanced mobile markets in the world, with sophisticated consumers who use their mobile devices for a wide array of activities, according to comScore vice president for Japan.

In June 2010, nearly 60 million mobile users in Japan accessed the browser on their mobile device, equating to 59.3% of the entire mobile audience, while more than 42.6 million users accessed a mobile application (42.3%).

More than half of mobile users in Japan (54%) accessed email on their mobile device, with more than a third accessing weather information (34.1%) and search (33%). News (20.9%) and sports information (20.8%) were also among the more popular activities, while 17% of the mobile population visited social networking sites or blogs. Other popular mobile behaviors include taking photos (63.0%), sending text messages (40.1%), watching TV and/or video (22.0%), playing games (16.3%) and listening to music (12.5%).

Selected mobile behaviours in Japan, June 2010 (total Japan mobile audience age 13+):
TOTAL AUDIENCE (13 years old and older): 100,900,000
- Took photos: 63,560,000 (63.0%)
- Used browser: 59,848,000 (59.3%)
- Used email (work or personal): 54,513,000 (54.0%)
- Used application: 42,671,000 (42.3%)
- Send text message: 40,496,000 (40.1%)
- Accessed weather: 34,369,000 (34.1%)
- Accessed search: 33,312,000 (33.0%)
- Watched TV and/or video on mobile phone: 22,200,000 (22.0%)
- Accessed news: 21,042,000 (20.9%)
- Accessed sports information: 20,959,000 (20.8%)
- Accessed entertainment news: 17,902,000 (17.7%)
- Accessed social networking site or blog: 17,173,000 (17.0%)
- Played games: 16,397,000 (16.3%)
- Accessed financial news or stock quotes: 16,233,000 (16.1%)
- Accessed maps: 15,806,000 (15.7%)
- Accessed traffic reports: 12,694,000 (12.6%)
- Listened to music on mobile phone: 12,662,000 (12.5%)
- Accessed tech news: 8,935,000 (8.9%)
- Accessed restaurant information: 8,468,000 (8.4%)
- Accessed bank accounts: 8,089,000 (8.0%)

(comScore, September 2010)

UGC and social media

Despite a slow start, Facebook is growing fast in Japan. eMarketer estimates that the site reached 7.6 million users in the country during 2011, a jump of 61.6% over 2010. User growth is forecast to remain strong through 2012, at 51.5%, for a total of 11.5 million users by year's end.

Facebook users in Japan, 2011-2014:
- 2011: 7.6 million (+61.6%)
- 2012: 11.5 million (+51.5%)
- 2013: 16.5 million (+43.0%)
- 2014: 19.5 million (+18.7%)

Still Facebook penetration remains low in Japan; the site is forecast to reach 12% of internet users and only 9% of the total population by the end of 2012. However, new survey data shows that users of the site are hooked. More than half (52.8%) of Facebook users in Japan accessed the site on a daily basis, while a quarter accessed at least twice a day, according to a February 2012 Macromill survey of Facebook users in Japan, translated by What Japan Thinks.

What Japan Thinks reported that the percentage of users logging in twice a day or more tripled over last year's figure of 8.6%. And users aren't just logging on more often; they are spending more time on the site as well: 28% spent an average of 30 minutes or more on the site each time they logged on. (eMarketer, June 2012)

Social network users in Japan are expected to reach 44.7 million users in 2012 and 50.7 million by 2014, according to eMarketer.

Social network users in Japan, 2011-2014:
- 2011: 39.5 million
- 2012: 44.7 million
- 2013: 47.8 million
- 2014: 50.7 million

(eMarketer, May 2012)

More than 80% (or 59 million) of the entire online population in Japan visited a blog site in June 2011, as the number of visitors to the category rose 7% from the previous year, according to comScore Japan KK.

FC2 inc. led as the top blog destination with an audience of more than 46.7 million, followed by Livedoor - Blog and

Blogs play a central role in Japan's internet culture, according to Daizo Nishitani, President of comScore Japan KK. Blogging has historically been a popular internet activity, as the opportunity to interact anonymously appealed to many online users. Beyond the wide reach of the blog category in Japan, visitors are also highly engaged on these sites - spending more time on blogs per month than any other country globally.

Global analysis of the Blog category revealed that Japan led all markets in blog engagement, with the average visitor in Japan spending more than an hour (62.6 minutes) visiting blogs in June. South Korea ranked second with an average of 49.6 minutes on blog sites, followed by Poland at 47.7 minutes.

Japan was also among the top markets for Blog category penetration with 80.5% of its online population visiting blogs in June. Taiwan ranked highest globally with 85.5% of its online population visiting blogs, followed by Brazil (85.2% reach), South Korea (84.9% reach) and Turkey (81.9% reach). (comScore, August 2011)

More than 9.7 million people owned smartphones in Japan in March 2011, an increase of 71% from September 2010, as smartphone adoption has continued to accelerate in Japan, according to comScore.  The surge in smartphone adoption during the past six months has been led by Android devices, which has increased its installed base by nearly 3.8 million users while the market as a whole has grown by 4.1 million users.

Google Android led as the top smartphone platform in March 2011 with 4.6 million subscribers, more than doubling in just the past three months. Despite giving up its #1 position, Apple still grew 17% in the past six months to 3.9 million mobile subscribers. The two leading platforms accounted for 87% of the smartphone market in Japan. (comScore, June 2011)

Social networking site Twitter grew its unique audience in Japan by a whopping 428% in the 12 months ending September 2010, and will likely end the year as the most popular social networking site in the country, according to comScore.

The site attracted 13.2 million unique users in September, closely following rival site which saw 13.5 million visitors but has seen its growth plateau since March. Given its strong growth, it appears Twitter will therefore overtake Mixi by December at the latest.

Despite its dominance in the social networking space in the US and the UK, Facebook continues to attract a fraction of the Japanese audience achieved by Mixi and Twitter. It has enjoyed growth, though, increasing its user base by 78% during the year ending September, reaching 5.3 million unique visitors, according to comScore. (ClickZ, November 2010)

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 June 2013 20:11