HOME > Press/News > Back Number 2019 > CIAJ Releases Report on the Study of Mobile Device Use – Longer renewal cycles and a possible turning point for low-cost carriers Excitement over 5G potential –

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CIAJ Releases Report on the Study of Mobile Device Use – Longer renewal cycles and a possible turning point for low-cost carriers Excitement over 5G potential –


CIAJ conducted its annual study of mobile device use and announces the release of FY2019 findings as follows.

  • The use of smartphone has spread to all age groups, including those in their 60’s. This has also translated into a slower growth rate as the market matures.
  • Intention to renew current device dropped by 25 points to approximately 41%. The renewal cycle was 4 months longer than last year’s figure, reaching almost 3 years.
  • The number of subscribers to low cost carriers, made up of “sub-brands (Y!Mobile, UQ mobile)” operated by the major carriers (MNOs) and MVNOs, indicated a decrease over the last fiscal year.
  • SNS has been embraced as a feature that is used frequently throughout peoples’ everyday lives. On the other hand, use of games and music features, and viewing videos has decreased.
  • Interest and awareness of 5G is over 70%, with 30% of respondents understanding what it is.
  • 5G services that respondents want to use: high-resolution images, high-speed downloads, AR, VR, autonomous driving, etc.

(1) Summary

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 1,200 mobile phones users (100 male & 100 female users in each of the following age groups: under twenty, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties) 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.

(2) Results

(1) Device Trends

<Type of device owned>

  • The 1,200 people surveyed owned a total of 1,552 devices, categorized into smartphones, featurephones, tablets (with telecom subscription), tablets (WiFi only), mobile WiFi routers, and others (including PHS).
  • 1,156 respondents (96.3%) said their main-use device was a smartphone, while 39 respondents (3.3%) said it was a feature phone.

<Slower growth of smartphone users>

  • Smartphone use has gained popularity in all age groups, including respondents in their 60s, with the growth rate slowing in comparison to the previous year to 0.6%.

<Continuing decline in featurephone users>

  • Featurephone users also decreased by 0.6% over the previous year to 3.3%.

<Decrease in respondents using multiple devices>

  • 32.9% of respondents stated they use multiple devices, which is a drop over the previous year’s figure of 44.0%.
  • Of those using multiple devices, 79.5% (295 devices) were tablets (with telecom subscription) and 8.1% (30 devices) were smartphones.

(2) User Trends Among Low Cost Carrier Services

<Low cost carrier users reverts to negative growth>

  • 12.8% of respondents were using low cost carrier services, which includes MVNOs as well as “sub-brands” operated by the major carriers (MNOs), which is 10.1 points lower than the previous year, indicating a halt in growth.
  • Although overall satisfaction rates over contracts with low cost carriers were high, dissatisfaction over rates were higher compared to the previous year in the following categories: “data transmission charges (2018: 1.9% to 2019: 7.7%)” and “voice communication charges (2018: 0.8% to 2019: 6.5%).”

(3) Intent to purchase replacement device

<Lower intention to replace devices>

  • 40.7% of respondents indicated intention to purchase a replacement, which was 25 pints lower than last year. The figure had fluctuated between 60 – 80% since 2011, but dropped far below 50% for the first time, highlighting the weak intention to replace current devices.

(4) Decisive Factors for New Purchases

<Less emphasis on features and functions>

  • There was a significant drop overall in features and functions (waterproof, size, operability, etc.) compared to the previous year. On the other hand, there was more interest in the carrier and related services.

(5) Use of Handset Features and Services

<SNS features becoming must-have tools, while use of entertainment features declined>

  • As the choice in services increases, SNS has been embraced as a feature used on a daily basis, while e-mail and entertainment-related features such as games, viewing videos and music are on the decrease.

(6) Interest and awareness of 5G

<Growing excitement over potential of 5G>

  • Awareness of 5G was 73%, indicating strong interest.
  • 5G services respondents were interested in using reflect new services which take advantage of 5G-unique features, such as high-resolution image transmissions, including 4K/8K (96.2%), downloading movie-length videos in seconds (74%), virtual games using AR/VR technologies (69.9%)

For details, contact

ICT Network & Mobile Technology Development
tel: 81-3-5403-9358 fax: 81-3-5403-9360

For more general inquiries, contact

Corporate Communications
tel: 81-3-5403-9351 fax: 81-3-5403-9360