Wednesday, February 01, 2006

NPD Group: Japan Offers Key Lessons for Wireless Market Innovation in the U.S.

NPD Group has issued results from a new survey that finds "Japanese wireless subscribers demonstrate a higher level of usage of, and interest in, advanced mobile phone features than do consumers in the United States."

Neil Strother at NPD Group said, "While there is certainly some basis for the notion that Japan is years ahead of the U.S., NPD’s research found that it’s really not that simple. Japanese consumers are using wireless services today that will find their way to U.S. shores in the future, but they also use their mobile phones differently than Americans.”

The survey found that "among the mobile phone features used more often by Japanese consumers than their U.S. counterparts were wireless Web browsing, mobile email, ringtone downloads, PDA functions, graphics and screensaver downloads, mobile gaming, picture messaging, digital music listening, video messaging, and mobile TV and video. Most notably, 76 percent of Japanese consumers use their phones for Web browsing, compared to just 12 percent in the U.S. market." Some emerging features currently available in Japan include the following:

  • Barcode reader (used by 27 percent of Japanese consumers)
  • GPS (26 percent)
  • FM radio (22 percent)
  • Voice recorder (18 percent)
  • Analog TV tuner (18 percent)
  • Mobile Commerce and e-money capabilities (16 percent)
Strother said, "When it comes to mobile phones, Japanese consumers are always on the lookout for the latest technology trends,. Japanese carriers are falling over each other to provide the most advanced features to remain competitive. While the U.S. market lags a bit in this regard, given the fact that Americans are also highly susceptible to coveting the latest and greatest communications gadgets, we can expect the domestic mobile phone market to react in a similar way to new leading-edge features."

Although not mentioned, one of the key reasons mobile web browsing via the handset is so high in Japan is because home PCs are less common than in the U.S. For many Japanese, the cellphone is their primary Internet device, which might help explain some of the survey's findings...