Recharging mobile phones in Japan

What do you do when your battery deteriorates? graph of japanese statisticsOne of the nice things about having a big archive of surveys is that when a survey like this one from JR Tokai Express Research Inc and reported on by into the matter of mobile phone batteries comes along, I can point you at the results of a similar survey from last year and the year before.


Between the 20th and 23th of May 2008 325 members of the JR Tokai Express Research online monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 58.2% of the sample were female, 20.6% were in their twenties, 38.5% in their thirties, 26.8% in their forties, 9.2% in their fifties, and 4.9% in their sixties.

I usually recharge at work these days, with a USB adaptor thingie I got free at a conference once. It’s a wonderfully handy device, and it’s easier to remember to do it at work rather than at home. What I should also buy sometime is a clockwork recharger, or perhaps even this interesting one from Strapya, the solar-powered recharger. It looks really cool, and a snip at 1,995 yen! I don’t know how well it would work with overseas phones though.

Why Softbank is winning in Japan

Are you dissatisfied with your current mobile phone service provider? graph of japanese statisticsSoftbank has just recently reported that for each of the last twelve months they have reported the highest growth in new contracts of all the mobile companies, and if the results from this recent survey, the 37th regular modile phone upgrade needs survey, by goo Research and published on is anything to go on, Softbank’s growth looks set to continue.


Between the 21st and 23rd of April 2008 1,000 members of the goo Research monitor group, and although it is not explicitly stated the figures imply that they all have mobile phones. 52.0% were female, 1.2% in their teens, 15.3% in their twenties, 39.7% in their thirties, 27.1% in their forties, and 16.7% aged fifty or older.

Softbank has been heavily pushing their voice discount services, with intra-family calls being free all the time as one of the biggest selling points. DoCoMo’s response has been to offer the same deal, but only to those who have been with the company ten years or more! I am just now eligible for that, but I’ve got so used to using email that I cannot be bothered with it, myself!

I don’t know if there is a connection, but recently there’s been more people speaking on mobiles in trains – now that would be another interesting topic to investigate!

The Apple iPhone: Successes and Challenges for the Mobile Industry

This is the title of a recent report produced by Rubicon Consulting, which I picked up via Michael Mace’s blog. I love statistics and stories on the iPhone, and although this is a study of the USA market, I will project from the US findings to look at if similar trends can be observed in Japan, and will Apple’s device be a success or not over here based on the reported results. You may have heard the recent news that the production of a 3G iPhone has started, so the Japan release is surely getting near. Let us look at the key statistics in the full report and see what they mean. All statements about the Japanese market are based on surveys previously translated on this blog.


460 randomly-selected iPhone users from all over the US completed an internet-based questionnaire. The sex breakdown is not listed, but by age 0% were under 18, 5% were between 18 to 21, 15% between 22 to 25, 30% between 26 to 30, 26% between 31 to 40, 13% between 41 to 50, 6% between 51 to 60, 4% between 61 and 70, and 1% over 70 years old.

User satisfaction

Overall over 40% were strongly satisfied with most of the features, and almost 80% satisfied to some degree. However, under 30% were strongly satisfied with data speed; in Japan with ubiquitous 3G, the need for speed will surely be even stronger.

Yukie Nakama beats dog

The battle for new customers amongst the mobile carriers is rather intense, with the three main players running lots of prime-time television advertising. To see what effect they are having on the average Japanese consumer, NEPRO Japan recently looked at mobile phone television advertisements.

Research results

From 10 am on the 7th to 3 am on the 8th of March 2008 4,498 users of the mobile phone menuing systems from the three main providers, namely iMode, Yahoo! Keitai and EZweb self-selected themselves to complete an open survey. 56% of the sample was female, 3% in their teens, 35% in their twenties, 42% in their thirties, and 20% aged forty or older.

Sadly, if the result in Q4 had been the other way round I could have got the much more enticing title of “Yukie Nakama gets licked by dog”, but it was not to be. Anyway, here is the lovely Yukie Nakama, and some other not-so-lovely people:

SoftBank CM from YouTube

Although I can’t stand dogs in real life, I really do like the SoftBank commercials! Yukie Namaka’s au “Anybody!” appearances are rather entertaining too, although the latest ones are a bit naff. I can’t remember recent DoCoMo adverts, although a few months ago they had celebrity-infested ones. Just to round out, eMobile has monkeys, with this one featuring the SoftBank dog’s twin brother being amazed at the cheap deals.

Japanese mobile phone software

Ever had a cellphone fault you thought was due to software? graph of japanese statisticsAs this is an area in which I have more than just a passing interest, I found this recent survey reported on by and conducted by goo Research into the matter of mobile phone software upgrades most interesting.


Between the 21st and 24th of March 2008 1,090 members of the goo Research monitor panel completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 53.8% of the sample was male, 17.2% in their teens, 19.4% in their twenties, 15.6% in their thirties, 17.3% in their forties, 18.4% in their fifties, and 12.0% aged sixty or older.

I suspect my phone is set to manual mode for update notification; my wife, however, had random power-offs when writing mail that I thought may be due to a wonky keyboard, but there had been a software update for the phone, so she downloaded that update and the problem went away.

The low percentage of those with software bugs is due to Japanese quality, where quality is defined as performance to specification. Some specifications are terrible, and the implementation is similarly sometimes suspect, but everything usually works as defined.

All-you-can-eat mobile data plans in Japan

Do you use a fixed-price packet plan for your mobile phone? graph of japanese statisticsI’m yet to go pake-hodai in Japan; pake-hodai, or パケ放題, is the DoCoMo trademarked (I think) term which means as many data packets as you want, but it has passed into the language as the generic term for fixed rate plans. However, if this survey recently reported on by and conducted by Marsh into fixed-price cellphone data packet plans is to be believed, almost three in five Japanese pay a fixed amount per month for their data.


Between the 6th and 10th of March 2008 300 members of the Marsh online monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. Exactly 50:50 of the sample were male and female, 20.0% were in their teens, 20.0% in their twenties, 20.0% in their thirties, 20.0% in their forties, 13.3% in their fifties, and 6.7% in their sixties.

These all-you-can-eat deals have two rather expensive exceptions to their coverage; first is using the cellphone as a modem – this gets charged at normal call rates, and second is the so-called full browser, a more fully-featured browser that can view standard computer-targeted sites in all their glory – to get these packets for free, you need to upgrade your plan to one covering the full browser too.

Mobile phone service providers image in Japan

Whose television adverts leaves the greatest impression? graph of japanese statisticsThis is a most interesting survey, given that there is currently being quite a shake-up in the mobile phone market, with SoftBank finally getting their act in gear and finally reversing their many year decline. To see how the market is changing, MyVoice conducted a survey into mobile phone service provider image. This is the seventh time this survey has been conducted, once a year since 2002.


Over the first five days of February 2008 15,391 members of the MyVoice internet community successfully completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 54% of the sample was female, 2% in their teens, 16% in their twenties, 37% in their thirties, 28% in their forties, and 17% in their fifties.

A white dog and a black guy are responsible for reversing SoftBank’s decline. I’ve heard people complain that there are racist undertones as the black guy is the offspring of a Japanese woman and dog, but I think that’s reading far too much into things. Here’s a blog translating one advert and here’s news of the dog releasing a photo book.

Note that today NTT DoCoMo have announced that they are joining au and SoftBank in offering free calls 24 hours per day between family members.

Cellphone fingerprint reader useful for almost half of all Japanese

Is a fingerprint reader needed on a cellphone? graph of japanese statisticsWith cellphones getting more and more features packed into them, here’s an interesting survey reported on by and conducted by goo Research into cellphone input devices.


Between the 15th and 17th of February 2008 1,092 members of goo Research’s online monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 53.2% were male, 16.4% in their teens, 18.0% in their twenties, 21.6% in their thirties, 16.4% in their forties, 15.8% in their fifties, and 11.7% aged sixty or older.

I think a full keyboard is nice to have, but none of the ones I’ve seen seem to be practical, as the keys are all far too tightly spaced, rendering the device pretty useless. A fingerprint reader is popular here, perhaps with people thinking about the security aspect, although compared to using a PIN, I don’t really think there is much of a benefit. The acceleration sensor is for motion games, and features on some of the 905i series of phones from NTT DoCoMo, but I cannot really see the practical use at all.

Japanese cellphone ease of use

How satisfied are you with your cellphone's buttons? graph of japanese statisticsTo me most of the Japanese cellphones that I’ve owned have had various problems with usability, even experiencing later models by the same company actually going backwards in terms of functionality. My current phone has minor irritants here and there; for instance there is a fractional delay between key presses and a response in the UI, and settings menus always open with the first entry highlighted instead of the current option. To see how the Japanese live with their phones, MyVoice investigated cellphone ease of use.


Over the first five days of January 2008 12,906 members of the MyVoice internet community completed a private online questionnaire. 54% of the sample was female, 2% in their teens, 15% in their twenties, 38% in their thirties, 29% in their forties, and 16% in their fifties.

For me, the keypad itself is not too important, although some of the new designer phones have got pretty awful pads that I would certainly not buy. On the other hand, my wife, who can type on her mobile faster than on a PC keyboard, the tactile feel is the second most critical item after “Does it come in pink?”

1 gigabyte memory cards now the norm for keitai

How many mobile phone memory cards do you have? graph of japanese statisticsWith almost all new cellphones now having a memory card slot with media costs dropping drastically, and listening to music on phones becoming more popular, here’s an interesting survey reported on by and conducted by JR Tokai Express Research Inc into the topic of cellphone memory card usage.


On the 13th of February 2008 330 members of the JR Tokai Express Research online monitor group employed in either the private or public sector completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 83.9% of the sample was male, 10.9% in their twenties, 38.5% in their thirties, 39.4% in their forties, 8.8% in their fifties, and 2.4% in their sixties.

A year and a half ago (summer 2006) a similar question was asked, and at that time 128 MB was the most popular size, so that’s a quite impressive factor of 8 larger.