Google Android in Japan

Google Android phone at Shibuya station
Google Android phone at Shibuya station
Google Android phone at Shibuya station

The ads are starting to come out at the train stations for the new NTT docomo Google Android phone. This ad at Shibuya station says “ケータイするGoogle”, A hand held Google.

NTT docomo are battling it out against Softbank who are seeing the numbers picking up well from their iphone subscribers.

It will be interesting to see how much market share the Google phone gets given that iphone had a large head start on it.


The main functions being promoted here are Android applications, YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps. The advertising may have to start targeting customers who want a smart phone because they want to access the internet and use net applications, but don’t necessarily want to use Google branded applications.

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  • How big are Google in general in Japan? In the west they're pretty much the default, and gmail and other google apps are very popular. My impression is that in asia yahoo are more popular, is that true or have google made significant inroads?

  • I just don't think that it's going to take off all that well, if iPhone sales in Japan are anything to go by. I own, and love, iPhone, however due to the fact that the mobile experience is so different in Japan to that in the West, I just think that without any real focus on the needs of the Japanese public, the Android could fall flat on its Google. I shall look on with interest..

  • I have this phone actually. I mainly got it because I didn’t want the iphone since it’s on softbank, and I wish docomo had the blackberry storm (touchscreen), not the bold. My biggest complaint about smartphones in Japan is lack of imode support, and no infrared. Most japanese I know with a smartphone have both a smartphone and a regular keitai because they don’t want to give up their emoji, 1 seg, and imode. IMO the reason that smartphones aren’t catching on as well in Japan as elsewhere is because using a smartphone means losing traditional keitai features. Japan’s phones seem to have been surpassed by the west now, I would love to see Japan create a good smartphone (that is good enough to compete with iphone and blackberry) that also has traditional keitai features. I miss them, though I would still rather have a smartphone since I like being able to easily browse the web and use IM applications.