Cheap monthly fees most important mobile feature

A recent survey from MMD Labo looked at user satisfaction with the Big Three Plus One mobile carriers of docomo, au, SoftBank and the new kid, Rakuten UN-LIMIT, specifically at their data services.

The Rakuten UN-LIMIT advertisement is horrendously shouty and I cringe whenever it comes on TV, so I don’t see why you shouldn’t suffer too!

I just checked the comments, and most of them are complaining – best was “Instead of lowering the cost, lower the volume!”

2018’s least understood words

goo Ranking this time published a ranking gathered not from their usual monitor pool, but instead by collecting search statistics on words that people most often searched for the meaning of through docomo’s mobile internet search engine.

The statistics were collected from the 1st of January until the 23rd on October by looking for searches of the form “__ meaning” and “what is __”; the Japanese terms were variants on 「◯◯意味」「◯◯とは」, for those of you curious. Note that all bar two of the words are English, and one of these two is an English word abbreviated and made into a Japanese-form adjective.
kanji dictionaries

1. SNS

Even when spelt out, the full term Social Networking Service probably means little to the average Japanese…

2. 忖度, sontaku

This is a very old Japanese word, from the 10th century according to the text, and came to the fore during revelations of suspicions of political influence by the Prime Minister into dubious dealings. The word itself sparked much debate, including if there was an equivalent English term. I would translate it as “doing what you think the boss would hope you would do, not what you think is best”. Here is Reuters explaining the word and the scandal surrounding it.

3. Account

This is in the sense (usually) of an online account, rather than a bank account, which has a proper Japanese name.

SoftBank best smartphone carrier

Over the last three months, which carrier's data transmission quality image has been best? graph of japanese statisticsMobile Marketing Data Labo recently conducted a survey looking at mobile phone carriers, focusing on the big three in Japan, docomo, au and SoftBank, who have over 95% of the market between them.


Between the 31st of May and 5th of June 2013 1,200 smartphone-using members of the MMD Labo monitor panel completed a private internet-based questionnaire. The sample contained 400 people who used each of the main three carriers, docomo, au and SoftBank, but further demographics were not presented.

I agree that SoftBank’s image really has improved recently; MMD Labo have previously shown that SoftBank is the fastest 4G carrier, so this survey shows that the message is getting through to the general public, and, of course, having Shinji Kagawa helping out doesn’t hurt – note that the ring-blowing beluga whale is Shinji’s father:


au by KDDI is Japan’s best mobile carrier

Smartphone HolderThis will most likely be the last proper survey for 2012, a look by MMD, Mobile Marketing Data Laboratory, at mobile carrier satisfaction levels, as reported by


Few demographics were given, just that on the 18th and 19th of December 2012 664 members of the MMD monitor group between the ages of 20 and 59 and who owned a smartphone from either docomo, au or SoftBank completed a private internet-based questionnaire. The results were listed alongside the results of a similar survey from May 2012.

Note that docomo only has seen a significant drop in satisfaction with signal strength and talk area; perhaps one reason is that there has been a number of network outages over the summer, and I still see occassional dropping out of my 3G signal in and around train stations at rush hour.

Docomo’s new autumn and winter mobile phone models

Docomo have recently announced their new line up for autumn and winter. There are almost no new phones; most of them are just refreshes of existing products with maybe a higher-end camera here and a few extra lighting effects there. One new one is the SC-01B, which seems to be just a Japanese-targetted tweak of Samsung’s Omnia Pro B7330 with a touch panel, but the B code seems to be trying to suggest to the customer that it’s an upgraded BlackBerry Bold. Anyway, these NTT docomo new models were the subject of this survey from Marsh Inc and reported on by


Between the 12th and 15th of November 2009 300 members of the Marsh mobile monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. The sample was exactly 50:50 male and female, 20.0% in their teens, 20.0% in their thirties, 20.0% in their forties, 20.0% in their fifties, and 20.0% aged sixty or older.

The Photopanel 02 is a new one on me, but as the name suggests it is a digital photo frame. There was also a 01, but I’ve never seen that anywhere!

Looking at the old and new phones last weekend I feel docomo’s range is getting too confused. Looking at Panasonic, for instance (most of the Japanese manufacturers suffer from this), they have two basic clamshell designs (there’s also a third slider phone), but mix and match features, so you can have a touch-pad keyboard and two-way opening, but a low-end camera. Go for a higher mega-pixel count and you lose two-way opening and the inward camera, but get more emoji and a cartoon character theme. They all have basically the same price so it’s really an exercise in frustration trying to decide which to compromise on.

Oh, and the older models haven’t had any noticable price reduction even though they’ve been superceded.

docomo professional, au youthful, SoftBank shoddy

Following up on coffee shop chain images comes another survey from iShare, this time looking at cellphone carrier image.


Between the 17th and 19th of December 2008 402 members of the CLUB BBQ free email forwarding service completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 54.7% of the sample were male, 15.4% in their twenties, 45.0% in their thirties, 32.3% in their forties, and 7.2% in either their teens or aged fifty or older.

Given SoftBank’s image in the title, it does seem appropriate that they supply Mickey Mouse phones.


Mobile phone design perception in Japan

Who makes your mobile phone? graph of japanese statisticsWith most phones now crammed full with the latest features, most manufacturers are putting more effort into the design aspect of their phones as the differentiating feature. To see how consumers perceive the look of their mobiles, MyVoice conducted a survey into mobile phone design.


Over the first five days of September 2008 15,502 members of the MyVoice internet community completed a private online questionnaire. 54% of the sample were female, 1% in their teens,l 15% in their twenties, 36% in their thirties, 29% in their forties, and 19% in their fifties.

The first phone that I felt was stunning in design terms was the Sharp Aquos with the rotating screen that could change from portrait for standard email use to landscape for One Seg television watching. That phone first came out on SoftBank, but it’s now offered by all three major carriers. To my overseas readers – have Sharp licenced that technology to any foreign manufacturers? I seem to remember hearing that Panasonic’s push-button opening for clamshells has been licenced overseas, but Panasonic seem to keep that feature to themselves as a differentiating factor for the domestic market.

In the graph, I kept Sony-Ericsson separate as some of their hardware is worldwide, some domestic only.

White dog much preferred over black man

Which mobile carrier's ads do you like the most? graph of japanese statisticsThe SoftBank adverts are my favourites, although there is always the risk of over-exposure with the dog even recently featuring in a photo book and a DVD. However, this recent survey from BlogCh showed no signs of flagging popularity when they asked about mobile phone television commercials.


Between the 15th and 17th of July 2008 370 members of the CLUB BBQ free email forwarding service successfully completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 53.0% of the sample were male, 14.6% in their twenties, 49.2% in their thirties, 28.6% in their forties, and 7.6% in their teens or over fifty.

I wonder if they’ll have the SoftBank dog using the iPhone? Given that another survey today indicated that the euphoria has passed, will they trot out their dog to flog some more kit? Will they introduce a new character? They had five rather unpleasant cats recently but they only lasted a week or so. Oh, and here is Dante Carver, the black guy who plays second fiddle to a white dog.

Q3 also brings me to another pet hate (as it were) with the SoftBank mutt coming tops as a fireworks partner. Back in the UK, in the run-up to November the 5th they’d be public service advertisements and other reminders to keep pets indoors to avoid them getting spooked by fireworks, but I’ve never heard of such a thing over here.

Finally, if you’re a SoftBank customer, here’s your chance to win a talking Oto-san bank or strap and free Oto-san themed games and deco-mail!

Neither Brad Pitt nor Cameron Diaz can save SoftBank

Who do you think is the most reliable phone company? graph of japanese opinionMyVoice recently published the results of its 6th annual mobile phone service provider image survey. Note that I have previously translated the 5th annual survey.


Between the 1st and 5th of February they interviewed 13,352 people from their onlione monitor community: 54% of the respondents were female, 2% in their teens, 19% in their twenties, 41% in their thirties, 25% in their forties, and 13% in their fifties.

The results here are pretty much in line with what even just the casual observer would conclude about the Japanese mobile phone market, although I would have thought that perhaps as Hollywood stars Brad and Cameron would have had a positive impact on SoftBank’s image, but their television commercials promote talking on the phone, ignoring the fact that most people email, and perhaps news of the rumoured three million dollars salary Cameron Diaz received for one six-hour shoot has soured the general public towards Masayoshi Son’s company.