How far ahead is Japanese Mobility?

I ran across this summary of a new survey in Japan about mobile web use, including this chart:

Tell me how often you access sites from your mobile phone

  All Male Female
About every day 73.8% 76.7% 72.5%
Four or five days a week 10.4% 9.4% 10.9%
Two or three days a week 10.9% 9.5% 11.6%
About one day a week 3.1% 3.1% 3.2%
Less than that 1.6% 1.3% 1.8%

Not surprisingly, the younger the user, the more frequently they accessed.

And unlimited data plan users accessed an average of 20% more often as well. Take the numbers with a grain of salt since it wasn't a particular scientific survey, but think about a similar survey (on the main menus of internet enabled phones) in other countries for comparison purposes. Okay, ready?

So I ask a very simple question: How far ahead is Japanese Mobile Web use from US, Europe and other parts of Asia? One year? Two? I won't listen to anyone give me junk about how the Japanese are "different" - you've seen me bitch about that before - they're not. They simply have more advanced networks, more powerful phones and more compelling mobile web services which drive nearly 3/4 of those polled to use the mobile web every day. That, my friend, is ubiquity if I ever saw it. So how far away is the rest of the world from these types of sky-high usage?

It's impossible to gauge perfectly, but let me throw out my thoughts. I'd say that the U.S. is only about 18 months behind the Japanese, and (ready for this?) the Europeans in general are about two years behind because of carriers' resistance to unlimited data plans. Other regions I'm not sure about - China's probably 2 years out as well, South America is catching up fast in various regions as are some European countries. India is taking its time.

What my predictions mean is that in the U.S. we're going to see big upswings in mobile web usage over the next year (pushed by MVNOs and carrier competition), reaching near Japanese levels of use by mid 2007. Within six months of that on either side, we'll see other countries really get on the train as well.

What say you, Senate?


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