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Mobile users in Japan are slowly switching to smartphones

Staff writer |
Though Japan was long enthusiastic about digital, the country didn’t join the smartphone revolution until somewhat late in the game.

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The popularity of “smart dumb phones” meant that, by worldwide standards, users in Japan stuck with feature phones longer than those in many other markets.

But those days are now behind, and more than three-quarters of mobile phone users in the country now have a smartphone, according to the Communications and Information Network Association of Japan (CIAJ), eMarketer reports.

As recently as 2011, just 14.8% of mobile phone users in Japan had a smartphone, according to CIAJ.

The No. 1 smartphone activity in Japan is online search, the survey found, with 90.2% of smartphone users searching regularly. Taking photos was nearly as popular, and 73.8% of smartphone users took videos with their phones, making it the No. 3 smartphone activity.

Navigation and GPS was among the fastest-growing smartphone activities, rising to 70.8% penetration in 2015 from just 48.2% in 2014. Other activities were decreasing in participation, however, including using QR codes, using coupons and making online payments.

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