A Comparison of Entertainment Mobile App Markets in Japan and the U.S.

Article Title: A Comparison of Entertainment Mobile App Markets in Japan and the U.S


The entertainment mobile app market has revolutionized the way people consume and engage with various forms of entertainment. This article delves into a comparative analysis of the characteristics of the entertainment mobile app market between Japan and the US. By examining factors such as user preferences, popular app categories, and monetization strategies, we can gain valuable insights into the similarities and differences that shape these markets.

Mobile Users Ratio

When comparing the mobile app market in Japan and the United States, several key factors emerge. In terms of the ratio of mobile users, both countries boast a high level of smartphone adoption. Japan in 2021 has a market penetration rate of 74%, which is expected to continue rising in the coming years. In the US, approximately 72.7% of adults own a smartphone, highlighting the widespread use of mobile devices in both countries.

Dominant Age Group

In Japan, the mobile app market is diverse and appeals to users of various age groups. However, the younger demographic, particularly individuals in their late teens to early 30s, tends to be more active in app usage. They are early adopters of new technologies and are more likely to engage with mobile apps for social networking, entertainment, and shopping. 

In the United States, app usage is prevalent across different age groups, with a significant portion of the population from teenagers to middle-aged adults actively using mobile apps.

Mobile App Revenue & App Purchase

Japan’s mobile app revenue reached $45.8 billion in 2022.  With a projected growth rate of 5.79% from 2022 to 2027, Japan’s app market is expected to reach a market volume of US$63.15 billion by 2027 (Statista).

In the US, the mobile app revenue estimation is $156.2b in 2022. With a CAGR of 19.5%, mobile app revenue is experiencing impressive year-over-year growth, according to Statista.

Japanese consumers have shown a propensity for investing in app purchases. Japan consistently ranks among the top countries globally, with the in-app purchase (IAP) revenue in the App market projected to reach US$38.43bn in 2022. the United States hit the amount of $55.9 also in 2022 in this sector. 

Dominant Mobile OS

Examining the market share of mobile operating systems, Apple and Google dominate the mobile app landscape in both Japan and the US. In Japan, these tech giants have a significant presence in the markets for smartphones, mobile operating systems, app stores, and even smartwatches. Similarly, in the US, Apple and Google hold a firm grip on the mobile app market, indicating the strong influence and reach of these companies.


Market Figures
Source: Statista

Popular Entertainment Apps


  • ぴあ (Pia): Pia is a popular entertainment app in Japan that provides users with information and tickets for various events, including concerts, theater performances, sports events, and more.
  • Netflix: Netflix is a global streaming platform that offers a wide range of movies, TV series, documentaries, and original content. It has gained significant popularity in Japan, providing users with a diverse entertainment experience.
  • Disney+:  Disney+ is a subscription-based streaming service that offers a vast collection of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content. It has gained a strong following in Japan, appealing to both children and adults alike.
  • Abema TV: AbemaTV is a popular streaming app in Japan that offers a wide range of entertainment content, including live TV channels, anime, dramas, variety shows, and movies.
  • LINE Manga: LINE Manga is a manga (comic) app that allows users to read a vast collection of manga titles on their mobile devices. It offers a convenient and immersive reading experience for manga enthusiasts.
Japan Top Entertainment App

The United States

  • Tubi: Tubi is a free streaming service that provides access to a diverse selection of movies and TV shows. Users can enjoy popular titles across various genres without the need for a subscription. Tubi’s extensive content library has made it a popular choice among US users.
  • Netflix: Netflix is a leading streaming platform that offers a vast library of movies, TV shows, documentaries, and original content. 
  • Disney+: Disney+ is a streaming service that provides access to a vast collection of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content. With a large fan base in the US, Disney+ offers a family-friendly entertainment experience for users of all ages.
  • Spotify: Although primarily known as a music streaming app, Spotify also offers podcasts and audio content, making it a popular choice for entertainment on the go. 
  • Hulu: Hulu is a subscription-based streaming service that offers a combination of live TV channels and on-demand content. Users can access a variety of TV shows, movies, and exclusive Hulu Originals, making it a popular choice for entertainment on the go.
The US Top Entertainment Apps

Popular App Genres


  • Anime and Manga: Japan has a strong affinity for anime and manga, and this is reflected in the popularity of entertainment apps dedicated to streaming anime series, reading manga, and accessing related content.
  • Virtual Idol and Music: Virtual idols, such as Hatsune Miku, have gained significant popularity in Japan. Entertainment apps that allow users to interact with virtual idols, attend virtual concerts, and listen to J-Pop music are quite popular in the Japanese market.
  • Karaoke: Karaoke culture is deeply ingrained in Japanese society. Karaoke apps that allow users to sing along to their favorite songs and share their performances with others have a strong following in Japan.
  • Celebrity and Talent Shows: Entertainment apps that feature celebrity news, gossip, and talent shows are also quite popular in Japan. Users enjoy keeping up with their favorite celebrities, watching variety shows, and participating in fan communities.

The United States

  • Streaming Services: Streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ dominate the entertainment app market. These apps offer a wide range of movies, TV shows, and original content, catering to the diverse interests of users.
  • Music Streaming: Music streaming apps like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora are popular for listening to music, creating personalized playlists, and discovering new artists and genres.
  • Podcasts: Podcasting has gained significant popularity in the US. Apps like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher provide a platform for users to access a wide variety of podcast content, covering topics ranging from true crime to self-improvement and comedy.
Popular App Genres (Japan vs US)

User Behavior and Preferences

User Preferences

In Japan, mobile apps that provide entertainment through anime, manga, and music are highly popular. Japanese users have a strong affinity for culturally relevant content and tend to engage with apps that offer a personalized and immersive experience. 

On the other hand, the US have a diverse range of entertainment preferences, with apps catering to movies, TV shows, streaming platforms, and gaming being prominent.

User Preferences (Japan vs US)

Monetization Strategies

In both Japan and the US, freemium models are prevalent in the entertainment mobile app market. Apps offer free access to basic features or content while providing additional premium features or exclusive content through in-app purchases or subscription plans. 

In Japan, microtransactions within gaming apps, virtual goods, and fan club memberships are popular monetization strategies. In US, subscription-based models for streaming platforms and ad-supported content are commonly used.

Monetization Strategy (Japan vs US)


The entertainment mobile app market in Japan and the US showcases unique characteristics influenced by cultural preferences and content consumption habits. While Japan emphasizes anime, manga, and music-related entertainment, the US has a broader spectrum of preferences, including movies, TV shows, and user-generated content. Developers and publishers should consider these factors when creating and marketing entertainment mobile apps to effectively engage with their target audiences. 

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