Japan’s most visited sites saw PC traffic decline by between 10 and 20 percent in 2014, while access from smartphones rose rapidly, according to a Nielson survey published this week. Online retailers saw the most marked changes, with some experiencing as much as a 60 percent rise in mobile internet traffic.
It’s easy to see this shift to mobile as part of a wider global trend – after all, Americans already spend more time accessing the internet via mobile and tablet apps than with computers. But smartphone use in Japan looks a little different. When Japanese consumers use smartphones to access the internet, it is mostly via mobile web browsing, rather than dedicated apps.
Join us after the jump as we take a closer look at the what and why of these suprising survey results.
The data, published by global market research company Nielson on December 16, gives the average monthly visitors to Japan’s most popular sites for desktop site browsing and mobile internet, as well as app users. By comparing this to last year’s data, we can see how internet usage is changing in Japan.
Here’s our take on the key findings:
- Mobile browsing and app access are up; computer browsing is down
Overall, the average number of visitors accessing Japan’s top ten sites via mobile was up 34 percent on last year; app users rose 32 percent. The number of people using PC sites, by contrast, was down 8 percent. This can be attributed to rising smartphone ownership: 70 percent of 16 to 49-year-olds in Japan now have a mobile device. The most visited desktop site was Yahoo!, still a big favourite in Japan, which saw a fall of 12 percent in PC access with a rise in smartphone visits of 31 percent. The most visited site on the mobile web, however, was Google.
▼ Looks like Japan might have figured out how to Google using Yahoo!
- PC browsing still trumps mobile…but for how long?
In terms of overall numbers, though, more people still visit the top sites using computers than smartphones. The average number of monthly PC visitors to the top ten sites was 52.1 million, compared to 42.6 million people using mobile browsing, and 41.9 million dedicated app users. With big shifts to mobile compared to last year, though, it looks like 2015 could be the year that mobile browsing completely overtakes computer access in Japan.
- Social networks and online retailers see big shift to mobile
The sites that had the biggest increase in mobile internet visitors were online shopping and social networking sites: Amazon JP and Twitter saw mobile access increases of 61 percent and 45 percent, respectively, while Facebook and Rakuten were both up by 42 percent.
- …but users prefer Facebook and Twitter’s mobile sites to apps
In many other countries including the United States, social media apps way outperform mobile sites. Not so in Japan, where Twitter’s mobile site had on average 26 million monthly visitors, compared to 14 million people using the Twitter app. Facebook is a similar story, with the mobile site averaging 27 million mobile site visitors, compared to 20 million people using Zuckerberg’s app.
▼ Dude, you know there’s an app for that, right?
- Japanese sites well-represented in top ten
Although global sites such Twitter, Facebook, and Google’s myriad services dominated the most-used sites and apps in Japan, home-grown services were well represented too. Japanese blogging sites livedoor and Ameba made the list of ten most-visited websites, as did video hosting site FC2, which narrowly beat YouTube for desktop site visitors. It may come as no surprise that messaging service LINE, Japan’s largest social network, was the most-used app; what’s more impressive is that LINE saw a 46 percent increase in monthly users this year.
▼ How many of those users are RocketNews24 writers winding up would-be scammers, we do not know.