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No Text (Messages) Please, We're Japanese

Published on October 8, 2010
by Daisuke Wakabayashi

Ride a Tokyo subway and you are almost guaranteed to see two groups of people: Those who are sleeping — not just casual nappers, but folks who are full-on, deep-REM-cycle, drool-down-the-chin asleep. The other group comprises people staring blankly or furiously punching the keys of clamshell phones with giant screens.

So it shouldn’t come as much surprise that a survey by research group comScore’s MobiLens service finds that the Japanese are the “most connected” mobile-phone users in the world. Three of every four Japanese use their phones to either browse the Web, access applications or download content to their handsets. This compares to 44 percent in the United States and 39 percent in Europe.

Dig into the survey and some interesting trends emerge. Only 40 percent of Japanese send text messages, while two-thirds of Americans and 82 percent of Europeans engage in short message service, or SMS. Why is this?

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