Tuesday, 6 February 2007

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.)

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