Animoca Data: the most popular Android phones and OS versions in Japan (Feb 4 – Mar 6, 2013)

Welcome to our multi-part efforts to reveal the most popular phones around the world right now based on Animoca’s current usage data. Today we’re looking at a rather idiosyncratic market: Japan. Along with the US and South Korea, Japan is one of the “big three” markets for Android, boasting among the highest Google Play revenues and the highest percentage of app money spent on games. Read on to learn about Japan’s phones, or browse more country data here: Hong Kong & India | Singapore | USA

All data obtained from individual users of Animoca games located in Japan, who used Google Play, and who played an Animoca game between February 4 and March 6, 2013. Tablets are excluded.

Top Android phones in Japan (Animoca network, Feb 4 - Mar 6, 2013)

In previous installments we revealed how Samsung accounts for as many as 8 out of the top 10 most popular Android phones in other markets, but in Japan the Korean giant shows up only twice – the lowest frequency we’ve observed so far. Granted, the two Samsung appearances are made in first and third positions, showing that even in Japan Samsung’s influence is strong.

But a deeper look quickly reveals that the Android phone market in Japan is heavily brand fragmented and highly competitive: only a tenth of a percentage point separates the Samsung S3 in first place from the Sony Xperia Acro HD in second place, and there are even smaller differences between some other top 10 devices.

All the popular devices are considered high-end, but many of these are completely unknown to users outside of Japan. There is no clear winner: one could argue that Samsung and Sony lead the pack, but the race is still wide open.

Idiosyncratic: Japan

Japan is clearly thwarting some global trends. The Samsung Galaxy Note series features prominently in most other markets. Even in India, which is a relatively low-end market, the Note held the number 5 and 9 positions out of the top 10. In Japan, the Note doesn’t even show up in the top 20!

People around the world tend to use portrait mode for phone utilities like messaging, and switch to landscape mode for gaming. In Japan, where they like to do things differently, games that run in portrait mode are more likely to be popular. Coupled with the curious absence of the otherwise best-selling Samsung Galaxy Note phone (which is almost impossible to use single-handed), this seems to suggest that Japan has evolved as a market for smartphone games that is primarily one-handed.

The following device is not part of the top 10 but it is interesting enough to warrant a special mention: we spotted a Disney phone sitting in 12th place. The device in question is the Disney Mobile on NTT docomo F08D and it is another high-end piece of hardware (available in “shiny white” and “shiny pink”). We’ve not seen anything like it in any other country analysis.

Top Android OS versions in Japan (Animoca network, 4 Feb – 6 Mar, 2013)

Although a respectable 56.8% of Android phone installations in Japan are 4.x, the vast majority of that share belongs to Ice Cream Sandwich; Jelly Bean makes up a tiny proportion that doesn’t even register among the top 5 Android versions. Gingerbread retains a relatively strong presence, despite the high-end nature of this market.

Join us next time for more insights about another key mobile market!

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