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Smartphone usage in Japan grows but feature phones aren’t going away

The number of smartphone users in Japan will increase three per cent this year to 70.8 million, representing 56.1 per cent of the population, according to eMarketer’s latest media usage forecast.

However, eMarketer highlighted that because of the country’s affinity for feature phones and desktops/laptops, Japan’s smartphone penetration rate will continue to trail many of its neighbors in Asia-Pacific. For example, the populations of South Korea and Singapore, which are both much smaller than Japan’s, will each have smartphone adoption rates of more than 75 per cent this year.

Japan underindexes on the smartphone front because of its older population—more than 25 per cent of the country is over the age of 65. In addition, smartphones and data plans are more expensive in Japan compared with other countries in Asia-Pacific.

“The feature phone is still relevant in Japan thanks to the older population who have yet to find it necessary to purchase a smartphone. For this group, the desktop/laptop is the preferred portal to the online world, and there isn’t a need for on-the-go access with a smaller device. The smartphone population is by no means a small number, but the fact that feature phones aren’t a thing of the past is unique in Japan compared to other developed countries,” said Chris Bendtsen, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer.

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.