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CIAJ Releases Report on the Study of Mobile Phone Use – Larger survey covers older users Results reflect popularity of non-carrier services


CIAJ conducted its annual study of mobile phone use and announces the release of this year’s findings as follows.
This year’s report continued to focus on the use of smartphones and featurephones, looking into the decisive factors at the time of purchase, and their most popular uses, but also broadened its scope to include users in their seventies. The study reveals the differences in use by age group and gender, as well as the shift from carrier services to SNS.


This study has been conducted as a fixed-point observation every April since 1998 to capture on-going changes in the domestic mobile communications market and include data from the busiest sales season of the year in March.
CIAJ mailed questionnaires to 1,400 mobile phones users (100 male & 100 female users in each of the following age groups: under 20, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies) residing in the larger Tokyo and Osaka metropolitan areas from the end of March through early April of this year.
Unique findings from this year’s study are as follows.

(1) Handset Trends

<Type of terminal owned>

The 1,400 people surveyed owned a total of 1,835 terminals and their breakdown is listed in the following table. 831 respondents (59.4%) said their main-use terminal (primary choice terminal) was a smartphone, while 526 respondents (37.6%) said it was a featurephone.

<Type of terminal owned by respondents of study>
Type of terminal ownedNo. of devicesMain-use device
(Primary choice)
Smartphone833 (59.5%)831 (59.4%)
Featurephone537 (38.4%)526 (37.6%)
Mobile Wi-Fi router183 (13.1%)0 (0.0%)
PHS104 (7.4%)43 (3.1%)
Tablet (with telecom subscription)100 (7.1%)0 (0.0%
Tablet (with only Wi-Fi connectivity)78 (5.6%)0 (0.0%)
Total1,8351,400 (100.0%)

<Steady growth in smartphone users>

The 2013 survey showed an even breakdown of featurephone and smartphone users, whereas this year’s results showed smartphone users to have grown to approximately 60%. As seen in the graph below, smartphone users are growing by around 10% year-over-year, reflecting a sustained shift to smartphone use.

<Second device shifting from featurephones to smartphones>

Of smartphone users, 253 respondents (31.2%) stated that they used multiple devices. In the 2013 survey, 27.6% said their second device was a tablet (with telecom subscription) and 11.5% was a featurephone, whereas this year’s survey showed that 36.7% was a tablet (with telecom subscription) and 4.8% was a featurephone, signifying a shift from featurephones to tablets

(2) Purchasing Cycles

<Little change in purchasing cycles>

The average use of respondents’ previous model (the one before the handset currently in use) was 29.6 months for smartphones and 50.9 months for featurephones. This indicates the two categories moving in two opposite directions, with a slightly shorter cycle for smartphones and a significantly longer cycle for featurephones.

Change in Duration of Ownership

<Continued high interest to purchase replacement of current model>

67.9% of respondents indicated intention to purchase a replacement (88.1% of smartphone users, 37.2% of featurephone users). This number has held steady at approximately 70% for the past four years, closely matching the launch of smartphones in the market in 2011 and reflecting continuing demand for purchasing new devices.

Change in Intention to Purchase New Handsets

(3) Decisive Factors for New Purchases

<Decisive factors in purchasing smartphones/feature phones>

The top ranking decisive factors in making the next purchase for smartphone users were “battery life,” “manufacturer/brand,” “purchase price of handset,” “monthly payment cost,” “beautiful display,” “touch panel operability,” “CPU,” “OS,” “water-proof/dust-resistant” and “high-speed service.” On the other hand, top ranking factors for featurephone users were “purchase price of handset,” “monthly payment cost,” “ease of use,” “battery life” and “size (snugness in one’s hand).”
The top two factors for both devices last year were “purchase price of handset” and “monthly payment cost,” whereas this year’s smartphone users placed more importance on non-price related features.

<Decisive factors in purchasing smartphones/featurephones>
RankingSmartphones (n=830)%
1Battery life70.2
3Purchase price of handset53.4
4Monthly payment cost52.0
5Beautiful display46.4
6Touch panel operability44.5
9Water-proof/dust-resistant feature41.3
10High-speed service41.1
11Size (weight)38.3
Pixel count of display
13Camera function37.2
14Mobile telecom operator36.6
15Size (thickness)35.4
16Size of LCD34.3
17Size (snugness in one’s hand)32.0
18Ease of browsing and commenting on SNS or blogs31.9
19Ability to display PC web screen28.0
RankingFeaturephones (n=503)%
1Purchase price of handset79.7
2Monthly payment cost77.7
3Ease of use41.2
4Battery life34.0
5Size (weight)31.6
6Water-proof/dust-resistant feature29.4
7Size (thickness)28.2
8Beautiful display18.7
9Beautiful display17.5
10Size (snugness in one’s hand)17.1
11Camera function15.3
12Pixel count of display15.1
13Large and easy to read text14.3
14Panel operability13.9

(4) Differences in Use of Smartphones and Featurephones

<Phone use>

Smartphones and featurephones are being used for voice communications across all age groups, but IP phone use (such as Line) has been increasing dramatically for the past 3 years among smartphone users.

Change in IP Phone Use Among Smartphone Users

<E-mail use>

Use of carrier-provided e-mail services continued to decrease, while internet e-mail and SNS linked e-mail (such as LINE) use is inversely increasing among smartphone users.

<Change in E-Mail Use by Device>
Carrier provided e-mail34.2%65.8%42.4%49.3%
Carrier provided e-mail72.9%30.5%79.6%49.9%
Internet e-mail54.1%74.1%12.5%42.5%
SNS-type e-mail65.6%87.9%3.5%4.6%

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