Mobile power nation Japan rises again

Japan’s mobile app market is rapidly growing.

According to mobile analysis enterprise App Annie, Japan developed the biggest mobile app market, beating the US in the world from October 2013. Japan’s rapid startup growth has been remarkable, especially in mobile gaming.

japan startup


Japan’s smartphone app market is worth about $400 million (440 billion won) in 2014, which  is three times more than it was in 2012 at $130 million. Japanese smartphone ownership is at 42%, compated to 44% of Americans and 73% of South Koreans. Given their rapid mobile growth,Japan’s mobile spending scale is bigger than any other country.

In 2002, Japan consumed $1.7 Billion (190 Billion Won) worth of content in mobile while the rest of the world stayed complacent with simple voice calling and SMS.

This was partly due to the early launch and success of NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode service in 1999, which helped fuel early adoption. Ironically, this also contributed to Japan’s later adoption of the global smartphone ecosystem led by



But as Japanese users migrated to Android and iOS, Smartphone adoption increased from 28% in 2012 to 53% in 2014. Because of this, Japanese startup services based on mobile internet have started to grow rapidly. According to mobile consulting corporation Digi-Capital, there are eight mobile startups in Japan valued at over $1 Billion (100 Billion Won) as of October 2014.


Companies like Line, GungHo, and Mixi offer messaging and mobile gaming services and have been met with huge success in the Japanese market. As they participate on a global platform, their services have become more and more competitive.  Japanese gaming companies like Gumi Inc. and Kayac Inc. have IPO’d successfully and many other startups have started going global.

Eddie Cho, Yoon Jungwon/Oh Myungsuk

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