Japan Passes U.S. as Top App Spender on Smartphone Penetration
Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Japan surpassed the U.S. as the top-grossing market for apps in October as use of smartphones surged
and wireless carriers started billing customers directly for
downloads from Google Inc.’s online store.
App revenue in Japan more than tripled from a year earlier
boosted by games as Google Play closed the gap with Apple Inc.’s
iOS store in Japan, defying the trend seen in the rest of the
world, according to a Dec. 11 report from researcher App Annie.
Downloads were also boosted by NTT Docomo Inc., the country’s
largest mobile-phone operator, which began offering the iPhone
Japanese consumers are quickly adopting smartphones, after
previously lagging behind other markets, with 42 percent of the
population using the devices in 2013 compared with 28 percent a
year earlier. That proportion is expected to jump to 62 percent
in 2014, outpacing the 50 percent penetration rate estimated for
the U.S., App Annie said.
“Japanese are accustomed to spending money on mobile
phones,” said Hiroshi Naya, an analyst at Ichiyoshi Research
Institute Inc. based in Tokyo.
Consumers in Japan have traditionally relied on cash rather
than credit cards for purchases. In 2011, Google introduced
carrier billing with Docomo, KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp. that
allowed apps downloaded through Play to be added to customer
phone bills which helped spark downloads, App Annie said.
Docomo added the iPhone in September, becoming the last of
Japan’s three national wireless carriers to offer the handset.
The company had resisted selling the device because Apple’s
iTunes store competes directly with Docomo’s dmarket.
To contact the reporters on this story:
Takashi Amano in Tokyo at
Grace Huang in Tokyo at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Michael Tighe at
Last Updated: December 11, 2013 19:33 EST