After years of trailing the world's major markets, smartphone penetration in Japan has taken off, rising from just 15% of the population in 2011 to more than 75% today. The surge in handheld devices has paved the way for an explosion in mobile application development that is profoundly affecting a number of native industries. News aggregation apps, for example, are expected to surpass traditional news outlets; and mobile gaming will gradually replace home video systems as the preferred gaming platform.

Not surprisingly, this growth in Japan’s mobile-device market has piqued the interest of foreign businesses eager to capitalize on the region’s newfound application fixation. Having a keen understanding of the nuances that separate Japanese consumers from their global counterparts is essential, however, in order for newcomers to successfully gain entry into this vibrant market.

This Executive Insights analyzes key factors behind the growth in smartphones and mobile apps, and identifies four critical success factors for market entrants to consider.

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