JAPAN Tech Blog


Downloads will determine your AppStore ranking in Japan


Many users download apps based on its AppStore ranking.  If you want to get more sales, you have to promote your app and get high rank on AppStore ranking.
In Japan, at last, the biggest mobile phone company, NTT Docomo has been selling iPhone5S since October, 2013. Users can buy iPhone from 
top 3 mobile phone companies, NTT Docomo, au and Softbank. So, iPhone’s market share is expanding. It means that the number of iOS devices and required downloads to get high rank are increasing. How many downloads do you need if you want your app to be ranked in App Store ranking in Japan? Actually our app got ranked 1st in March 2014. I made the chart for downloads and rank in AppStore.

Number of downloads are per day (see above chart).
Required downloads changes daily.
Ranking changes every 3 hours.

1st rank requires over 75,000 downloads, and this number  is increasing because the number of iOS devices are expanding.

In addition, the reward advertisement price, where developers can buy downloads, is decreasing. 2 years ago, developers bought 1 download / 1USD(100JPY), but now, 1 download / 20-60 cents (20-60JPY). That’s why many developers do reward promotion, and apps on ranking are mostly provided by reward advertisement. So it is difficult to get high rank with no promotion cost.

However some apps are ranked without promotion cost, actually, our app too.  Depending on how one approaches things, you can get high rank.

Why WhatsApp success in Europe and the United States?

Facebook bought chat app, WhatsApp. In just 5 years, WhatsApp got 450 million users.
Why is WhatsApp successful in Europe and the United States?

Since 2008, many people communicate with SMS. Mobile phone companies sell the unlimited SMS plan as $10 or $20 USD / Month.
Then Apple launched App Store in July 2008. 
And in 2009, WhatsApp launched their app for $0.99. At first, their app had many bugs and few users were active. But when WhatsApp 2.0 was launched with push notification, it got 250,000 active users. Generally developers have difficulty getting users in paid app category, but WhatsApp could. Because users realized if they join WhatsApp, they could cancel their unlimited SMS plan and save a lot of money.
Simply, WhatsApp replaced SMS of mobile phone companies.
So, WhatsApp added the feature that easily find friends, for example, connecting to Facebook and load user’s address book and automatically connect with friends on WhatsApp. 
More importantly, WhatsApp improved the simplicity and speed of sending messages. 

In Japan, many people used Email on iPhone and it’s free, so they didn’t buy WhatsApp. Group chat, LINE provided chat with sticker, many Japanese people love it and users expanded. Now LINE has 50 million Japanese users and 300 million users globally. 

To summarize, WhatsApp replaced SMS, and they launched faster than competitors, and WhatsApp provides simple and fast communication.

LINE will change the smartphone business


LINE, a chat app with 370 million users, launched 3 awesome services on Feb. 26. 

The first one is LINE Call. Users will be able to call to phone and mobile phone with reasonable price. Generally mobile company’s calling price is ¥42 JPY (42cent) / min. But LINE Call is ¥14JPY(14cent) / min. Furthermore, international call is very reasonable.Users can call for around ¥2 JPY (2cent) / min. 
LINE will take over the phone market, users will not use mobile phone’s call feature.

2nd one, LINE Business Connect. Companies will be able to connect LINE API and send messages regarding customer’s situation. For example in video rental shop case, if a customer rents a video and before the due date is soon, the company sends the message ”Return the video” automatically. Another case, customer calls a taxi with sending the GPS.
And companies use this service as email magazine. Many people subscribe to many email magazines but people really read them because their email box is flooded. But now users spend more time on LINE, so companies can easily reach them. Many companies move to it.

3rd one, LINE will open the sticker market, LINE Store. Designers can sell their sticker in it.
Designers can sell their design all over the world. The revenue share is 50%. Many designers are absolutely ecstatic now.

LINE is creating the new market with group chat. Other chat services should follow their way.

Smartphone games are changing future trends

Hello, I found interesting report from App Annie and Distimo. App Annie and Distimo are researching companies for smartphone apps. I will introduce.


Google Play’s downloads reversed App Store’s. Actually, Google Play’s downloads is 15% larger than App Store’s one on 2013. 


However App Store’s sales 2 times larger than Google Play’s.


Also 2 platform’s sales are expanding because of game category. Especially Asia, North America and EU’s sales expanded.
Regarding Distimo, Asia is 41%, North America is 31% and EU is 21% of global sales on Dec.2013. And sales of Asia’s sales grew 62% than last year, North America’s one grew 46%.  This mean that Asia is the most attractive market in the world.

So Japan is the most highest in Asia. And next is Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia. 


Next, “Freemium” leads sales in the world.
Freemium means that app developer release the app for free, and users buy the virtual items with In App Purchase.
Freemium games grew 86% in 2012 to 93% in 2013.
Actually 94% of Japan’s, 91% of Korea’s and 96% of China’s sales are from In App Purchase.

Surprisingly iOS game sales reversed consumer game sales on 1Q 2013, Google Pay reversed on 2Q 2013 too. And iOS and Google Play sales 3 times larger than consumer game sales.

Nintendo may be going to launch smatphone game, but Nintendo denied. But I believe Nintendo will launch.
We need to focus on the smartphone’s future trends! 

Will Playable ads expand in mobile game?


I found an interesting new advertisement on the smartphone from venture beat. That is “Playable ads”,created by Agawi,. Playable ads is a demo game in an advertisement you can play. 

When user complete or fail a level in a game, Playable ads cut in the screen and user can try to play in the screen from 30 sec to 2 minutes.
After the user finish to try it, the game’s download link will appear.  If user wants to play more, he can download the game.

To put it simply, user can try the ads game in the game without moving to other apps.  Generally if users watch a banner ad and want to try a game, he has to go to the app market, download and install it. Users needs over 5 minutes.  On Playable ads, it’s very smooth.

So, which game fits on Playable ads?
I think that simple rule and simple control game is better because the game time is short.

I’m not sure how Agawi make such an interesting advertisement. If they translate the game’s native code to web code, it will be expensive. So I think advertiser just upload it to their server and users can play a demo game with simulator, it’s easy. As a result advertisers can easily make the ads automatically on the cloud at a low cost. 

That’s why I think Playable ads may become popular in this year!?

Will news aggregation service succeed in Japan?

Some news aggregation services are getting popular in Japan because of the smartphone’s number of users is increasing. Every distribution services recommend topical news.

Gunosy, with 1 million users, is PC and smartphone’s news delivery service. They have 1 million users.
Gunosy analyzes your Facebook and Twitter usage and personalizes news recommendation for every users.


Smartnews is smartphone news app that analyzes the topical news and blogs on twitter and delivers them 3 times a day.
The news headline is designed like a news paper. 


And the app has Smart mode. The app loads the all news and blog articles when users open the app, so users can read it offline. Many Japanese people commute by subway, so they love this feature. However Smartmode does not show advertisement on news articles or blogs, and some news or blog owners see it as a problem. 

However, investors don’t.  News delivery service startups are receiving a lot of investment. Smartnews got 400 million JPY ($4 million USD), Gunosy got few hundred million JPY (few million USD) and other news deliver service, Antenna got 2 billion JPY($200 million USD) from venture capital.
Basically they don’t have banner ads, they expand their users first.   
In United States, both news aggregation services and news delivering services are expanding. However, there are no news delivery service startups in Japan because of government regulation.
I hope Japan can have not only news aggregation services but also news delivering services in Japan.

Japan app market size became No.1 in the world.


App Annie announced app market size of Japan has became No.1 in the world since October 2013.
The app sales of Japan on October increased threefold from same month of year before.  United States is second, sales rose 80% of Japan sales in the same time frame. Japan market size is triple Korea’s, 3rd in the world, and 4 times England’s.

Actually, an adoption rate for smartphone in Japan was slower than other countries last year. Last year’s rate was 28%.  However this year’s rate is 42%, it is almost same with US’s.    

Puzzle and Dragons and LINE are smash hits because of TV commercial. And many people are the addicted to the apps, they buy digital paraphernalia. So the Japan app market expand quickly.

In October, game apps sales increased 3.9 times and other apps sales were 1.3 times in Japan. As a result, 90% of all app sales are from games.

Now King’s Candy Clash Saga, and Super Cell’s Clash of Clans are doing heavy promotion in Japan.  
App developers should enter Japanese market.

My company has ad network in Japan.
If you would like to promote in Japan, please ask me.

How to increase your app search ranking on AppStore


If you want to get more downloads on AppStore, you have to increase your app’s search ranking. Here’s how:

1. Add key words on app name area

Actually AppStore search engine attaches weight on app name and less weight to key words and descriptions. 
And 75% people search with keywords, not brand name.
That’s why you need to add key words on app name area.
For example, “Perfect365 - Face Makeup Editor, Beauty Enhancer & Fashion Artist”

However, you must not enter non-related key words because Apple may reject your app.

2. Write a good 4 line description

Basically users visit AppStore on iPhone.
And after 5 lines, description text is hidden with “more…”.
Many people do not tap more button, so you should keep your description to 4 lines maximum.
For example, Perfect 365 app description is below.

"The best photo cleanup and makeup app.
* One-tap makeover, photo editing, and enhancements * Best way to find your personal makeup style


3. Use key words in full sentences in your descriptions

AppStore search engine won’t recognize listed keywords.
For example, “Facebook,Gmail,Twitter,Youtube,snapchat,….”

However if keywords are in a natural sentence, they are recognized. 
For example, “You can log in with Facebook, Twitter and Gmail.”.

4. Appeal with first screen shot

First screen shot is shown on search result page on AppStore.
Users decide to get more information about your app based on your screen shot.
You should write your slogan on the screen shot and make sure its appealing.

5. Write keywords on items of In App Purchase 

Actually AppStore search engine refers to the In App Purchase name. 
It is better to add keywords on items name.

6. Show review alert when users are satisfied
Rating rate affects your search result.
If you want to increase your app’s rate, show review alert when users are satisfied on your app.
Users will give you a good rating.

7. Add single words on key word area

You can write up to 100 search words on iTunes Connect. You should write it single words. For example, you should not write “puzzle game”  but “puzzle” “game”.
If you write “puzzle game”, search engine does not recognize “puzzle” or “game”.

Why don’t you try these tips and check your app ranking after.
Let’s check your app in iTunes Connect.


iPhone will monopolize the smartphone market in Japan


September 10th, Apple announced iPhone5c and iPhone5s. And they said that NTT Docomo will start to sell them. 
NTT Docomo, which has 50% share and is the biggest mobile company in Japan.
I believe iPhone will monopolize smartphone market in Japan. 

Actually Japan has iPhone’s largest market share in the world.

Since iPhone has higher brand image and is reasonably priced it has larger market sharer than Android in Japan.image

(Kanter May.8.2013)

Because Docomo did not sell iPhone, 2 other mobile companies, Softbank and KDDI, took market share from Docomo. 

However many Docomo users are royal because the reception is better than other companies.

Docomo will start to sell iPhone at a more reasonable monthly fee than Android.  I believe this will increase iPhone’s share to 80% in Japan.

What will happen if the share will be 80%?

Japanese electronic companies, NEC, Fujitsu and Sharp, sell Android phones in Japan but they will stop because they will not have enough  share to be profitable.

Google Play Japan store has the highest sales in the world now but it will  decrease. Android developers must make iOS apps, especially in Japanese market.

Japan smart phone market will be dominated by iPhone while Android expand in other countries.

App developers need new promotion plan

Apple changed ranking logic around August 8.  In fact, many app’s rank are dramatically changed. 

For example, Facebook app’s rank increased from 60th to 14th in top free category, from 10th to 2nd in social networking category after August 8. After that the rank has been kept.


Before, AppStore ranking logic was based on downloads per hour but it changed to be based on downloads per hour and active user ratio.

Because I find it impossible to think Facebook app users were  dramatically increased on August 8. However as you know Facebook is popular app.  Active user ratio must have been added to the ranking logic. 

In addition, Instagram and YouTube which have many active users,  rank’s were highly increased on the same day.



Additionally, before that the rank was changed hourly, but now it is changed every 3 hours.

So many app developers have to re-think the reward promotion. Many developers pay a lot money to reward promotion  to get high rank. For example, if a developer pays $15,000, he can get over 50th on top free. (ex: 1 download cost is $1) And many people will find his app and they will download his app. Then Reward media pays the download fee (or virtual item) to reward media users.

However, since AppStore ranking added active user ratio, the reward promotion may negatively affect mid-and-long term ranking because reward media users removed the app because their purpose is download fee.  

Actually I did the reward promotion for 10,000 downloads for my app in Japan market after ranking logic changing.

[Before August 8 2013] 


[After August 9 2013]


Before case, top free was 45th and social networking was 3rd with reward promotion. On the other hand, in after case, top free was 26th and social networking was 4th. Then the rank was decreasing during 7 days.

According to the 2 cases, reward promotion has still been useful.

However after ranking logic changed, our app’s rank is basically lower than before because this app lost many users and we did reward promotion. 

If developers do the reward promotion many times, the app’s active ration will decrease, then the rank will be getting lower.

Developers need to do the promotion to keep active users.