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Japan fine with cheap old mobile phones, ta very much

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While the rest of the world goes weak at the knees for smartphones and netbooks, Japan appears content with the functionality of regular mobile phones to be getting on with.

A recent online survey by Japan's goo search engine* concludes that 49 per cent of respondents say "mobile phones are enough" when asked what kind of mobile device they'd like to carry. Only 22 per cent chose smartphones, and 17 per cent were for toting around a netbook or another form of small, cheap computer.

Asked what kind of mobile device they would want to carry, respondents gave the following responses - which are also translated here:

  • Mobile phone is enough: 49.2 per cent
  • Smartphone: 22 per cent
  • Netbook: 16.3 per cent
  • Notebook computer 8.9 per cent
  • Don't want to carry anything: 3 per cent
  • MID/UMPC: 0.3 per cent
  • Other: 0.3 per cent

The survey was conducted online between in early August based on the response of 1,087 people. And while online polls should always be taken with a liberal dose of skepticism, for this poll the internet probably isn't a terrible place to find a typical sample of the kind of person who buys mobile devices. We've also seen these sentiments from Japan before.

Japan, of course, is notorious for its bitchin' mobile phone service that makes everyone else look like they're a step away from using smoke signals. Mobile net access has long been taken for granted and local phone makers are preferred. With internet service standard comes less of a need to power up Old Lappy (even for, ahem, the more carnal endeavors).

So what tech do the Japanese usually cram in their pocket other than a standard mobile phone? According to the survey, it's the Nintendo DS or nothing at all.

Asked what mobile devices other than a standard mobile phone respondents usually carry with them, users - who could select multiple answers - gave the following responses:

  • Nintendo DS: 44.3 per cent
  • Notebook computer: 19.7 per cent
  • Sony PSP: 16.0 per cent
  • Netbook: 4.7 per cent
  • Smartphone: 3.4 per cent
  • PDA: 3.2 per cent
  • PND: 1.0 per cent
  • Tablet PC: 0.8 per cent
  • MID/UMPC: 0.6 per cent
  • Other: 0.4 per cent
  • No mobile devices: 39.3 per cent

Of those polled, 17.3 per cent were in their teens, 18.1 per cent in their 20s, 21.3 per cent in their 30s, 15.9 per cent in their 40s and 27.3 per cent in their 50s. Not a bad spread and suggestive that it wasn't just the layabout kids tilting things towards Nintendo.

You can check out the entire poll here, although you'll want to speak the language. ®

*Yes, that's the name. And no, we didn't leave out the "gle." The goo search engine and web portal is run by a company called NTT Resonant. It also has an online research unit jointly run by the Mitsubishi Research Institute. Note that Mitsubishi does sell mobile phones if you want to get your tinfoil hat on.

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