Even in Japan, there's no one "killer" mobile data application

As reported by What Japan Thinks, a recent survey of 1,000 Japanese mobile phone users asked what features would be important when they upgrade to their next phone. The results matched what we've seen in the US and Europe -- there's no single feature that all users want. In fact, there isn't even a data feature that a majority of users want.

This chart shows the most important findings:

When upgrading your mobile, which features are important? (Multiple answers allowed.)

I left out some generic features like "memory card." Other than those, no feature got a thumbs-up from more than about 20% of the users, which is very similar to the sort of results we've seen among mobile users in the US and Europe.

I did think it was interesting that mobile TV got a pretty good score, as did the e-wallet features that some Japanese operators have been pushing. E-wallet functionality has been a gleam in the eye for mobile companies for at least ten years; it's nice to see someone implementing it.

It appears that Japan, like the US and Europe, has a segmented mobile data market in which different users want different, conflicting features. The best way for a manufacturer to tackle that is with a line of products targeting different user segments, rather than one all-consuming super smartphone.

Although mobile feature attitudes in Japan aren't as different as many people might expect, attitudes toward mobile brands are enormously different. That's because Japanese mobile phone companies don't focus on the export market, and overseas brands don't do a good job of designing for the Japanese mobile operators. Sharp is by far the most desired mobile brand in Japan, for good reasons because it makes really nice mobile hardware. The top brands in the US and Europe -- Nokia and Motorola -- are also-rans in Japan.

What brand of mobile handset do you desire most? (Only one answer allowed.)


Anonymous said...

Hi Mike:

Good dig from Seron.. 8-)

Some surprising numbers there to be sure.. Nokia beating Fujitsu for example or even 35% having no OEM preference!

As for the No Killer App. comment here's a fav. quote of mine from our video interview with James Gosling at the 2002 Java One conf. in Yokohama: "What's the killer app. for a grocery store.. there isn't one right!"



Anonymous said...

As far as a killer app, I agree with Lars, that there is no "one" killer app. However I would say to be a killer mobile app, it must have at least two qualities
1. Speed
2. Relevancy for the user

It makes sense that different segments of the market will want different things.

I'm not so sure about mobile TV being a big hit, unless the price is flat rated, and as long as you could get a signal when commuting which is definitely not the case at least in the UK.


Jay said...

It's interesting that mobile radio showed up as a desirable feature. PopCatcher of Sweden has a product that will capture an FM signal, filter out DJ talk and commercials and save the music as an MP3 that can be used on the device. Very cool for mobile phones w/ FM ability. It helps answer the question about getting music on phones in an easy way. Check our Designwin.net for more about PopCatcher.

Anonymous said...

hi from Tokyo,

As far as Sharp concerns, they surely make one of the best LCD panels for cell phones. Look at Vodafone/Softbank 905SH or Willcom W-ZERO3 series which is a series of WM5.0 based smartphones.
I happen to own both of them, and I believe that recent "one-segment TV" and WM5 smartphone pushed Sharp to its current position because of its fine LCD panels.

Just my 2 yen worth,

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

Interesting article.
Do you know how to get in front of the carriers in Japan to over WAP based products?

Do you go direct or is there an aggregator market place to connect you off-net?

Any help would be great