What’s Big in Japan?

Japan is a fascinating country with a rich history of technology and development and with SimilarWeb’s immense global panel of data, we can discover incredible insights on what’s big and what’s trending in the country. According to our data, Japan’s Internet and app habits are actually quite different than the rest of the world, and understanding these trends is essential if a company wants to expand or grow their digital presence in Japan.

Perhaps most striking is Japan’s absolute obsession with an app called Line, a communication app that allows for phone calls, video calls, stickers, and much more. According to a recent article in Fast Company Line has become, “A Culture-Changing, Revenue-Generating Phenomenon.” Though it started
as just a communication app, Line has also opened a retail store and a food delivery service, and offers a variety of other Line-branded apps, including games, stickers, and a camera.

According to SimilarWeb’s exclusive app Usage Rank, Line is ranked as the number 1 Android app in Japan, and as of early 2016, is beating out extremely popular apps such as Google and Facebook. In Japan, Line is installed on 80% of Android devices, and used by the average person for almost 45 minutes a day. Furthermore, when examining  retention metrics, Line scores incredibly high. Recent research from our Uninstalls Report shows that most apps lose almost 80% of their users within three days of installation. This is not the case with Line, and the app has an amazing 30 day retention average of 77%, which is even more impressive when comparing it to the industry average for communication apps which is just 2%. For more information on app retention or other app metrics, learn more about SimilarWeb by signing up for a demo today.
line popular apps

Despite Line’s complete adoration in Japan, the app’s popularity has been slow to spread to other Asian/Pacific countries. In the graph below, Thailand and Indonesia are unique in that they represent two other countries where Line beats out its biggest competitors, namely: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, KakaoTalk, and Viber. In fact, when looking purely at Current Installs, Line has a higher percentage in Thailand than it does in Japan, as over 90% of Thai Android devices have the app installed. In Singapore, Line has over 50% installs, and the app is not far behind WhatsApp and Messenger. If Line wants to continue its growth, it would be wise to focus on countries like Singapore, or even Philippines, Australia, and India, where the app has had varying success. With the right digital strategy, Line could soon become the number one app in those countries as well.

line in asia

Outside of the Asia/Pacific region, Line has a limited but dedicated audience in the US, where the app has maintained an install rate of 4%. However, despite this relatively low percent of installs, the app has high user engagement and on the average day, 31% of its users are active on the app. Combined, this has allowed Line to climb as high as 11th on communication apps in the U.S., based on SimilarWeb’s Usage Rank. This trend also holds true in the U.K., where line is installed on 3.5% of Android devices and has an active users rate of 34%.


Aside from Line, another strong Internet trend in Japan is the country’s strong preference for Twitter over other social networks. When looking at worldwide data, Facebook is by far the most popular social network and Facebook.com accounts for almost two thirds of all desktop social network traffic. Twitter is far behind, taking only 11% of social traffic on a worldwide level, though that number does grow to 13% when looking just at the U.S. However, in the U.S., Twitter is not even the second most popular and is displaced by Reddit who claim 21% of the social network traffic in the USA.
social us v world

With Japan, it’s a different story entirely and Twitter use in the country is far higher than Facebook or any other social network. In the graphs below, it becomes evident that Twitter claims well over half the market, while the remaining social traffic is split between Facebook and various other sites. This is in strong contrast to both worldwide and U.S. data where Twitter is in contention for second largest social network, but first place is firmly held by Facebook. In order to thrive in Japan, any company needs to be aware of these trends and adjust their digital strategy accordingly.

twitter japan vc world

About the Author -

Moshe Alexenberg is the Head of Content and Digital Insights at SimilarWeb. He has an MBA in Strategic Management and his online marketing expertise is in content marketing, digital storytelling, and data analytics.

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