Unique and Local yet Attractive and Expanding


A new source of revenue for developers.

Migrate 100% of your Android users into revenue generating customers.

Japanese Subscription app stores are stores managed respectively by Japanese major mobile carriers, which provide the aggregate 20 million subscribers with an enormous benefit: unlimited access to thousands of Android apps and games that normally cost money to download and play (including unlimited, free in-app items) by paying a considerably small amount of money as a fee every month.
Japanese Subscription app stores operate under a revenue model where mobile carriers pay developers based on the user engagement time on the app.
With Japanese subscription app stores, developers can migrate 100% of Android users engagement time into a source of revenue.
The revenue will be generated starting from the very first minute the app is used in the stores, and will increase due to the user engagement by every customer in exchange for the revenue generated from normal download or in-app purchases. With Subscription market business model, developers can focus less on monetizing and more on creating greater user experiences.


Let us introduce you to the three biggest players of the Japanese mobile market and their market shares.

In Japan, there are three companies - KDDI au, docomo, SoftBank - holding approximately 90 percent of the share of the domestic mobile market. Below is the breakdown of each carrier's number of contracts and its current market share.

Details on subscription markets operated by each mobile carrier

  • docomo Sugotoku: Sugotoku is a service for docomo smartphones that allows users to get access to approximately 180 contents of 10 genres such as news, weather, game and fortune telling. On March 22, 2015, the market's number of users reached 5 million.
  • au SmartPass: By paying 372 JPY (tax excluded) each month, subscribers get unlimited access to the market's app and web content, special members' benefits, 50GB of photo and video storage, and complete security and support service. In March 2016, the market has more than 15million users and 700 titles. The number of users is expected to grow steadily.
  • AppPass: AppPass is a service that offers access to apps, whose aggregate price is up to 40,000 JPY, with monthly payment of 370 JPY (tax excluded). Subscribers not only receive a 500 JPY AppPass ticket every month for purchasing items in game apps, but also get a free first month subscription. Currently, the market has about 400 app titles. Subscribers information is not disclosed officially.


Application provision in the legacy market has been an innovative way to provide applications worldwide with the presence of legacy market in more than 200 countries worldwide.
However, in the digital world, business model has been evolving rapidly. In Japan, mobile carriers have developed subscription markets as an alternative market for premium apps.
According to Nielsen Mobile NetView Apirl 2016, the total number of smartphone users in Japan is 54.96 million, and the monthly MAU of Google Play is 26.86 million.
On the other hand, the total number of paid subscribers for Japanese mobile carriers' market has exceeded 20 million. This market size is remarkably worth considering for developers who are searching for Android alternative market.


Premium app market is said to take up about 1-3 percent of the entire Japanese app market. Free and in app purchase occupies more than 95 percent of the market. This proportion is apparently a global trend. As a method of monetization for paid apps, approaching markets that are not legacy markets is a hyper effective method to boost the revenue of the app. A majority of paid application providers in Japan have already attempted to enter the market proposed this time by various methods. However, entering this market has become a very challenging.


Below is the comparison from the standpoint of a developer on the main characteristics of the Japanese subscription market and Amazon Underground, a premium app market offering not only game apps in many other countries besides Japan.

Japanese Subcription Market Amazon Underground
Existence of User Payment Yes, 3 USD - 4 USD per user every month User payment is zero
Distribution of App in Japan Yes No, Amazon Underground is not in Japan
Existence of IAP No No
Modification of APK Yes, but developer can utilize most of the source code Yes, but developer can utilize most of the source code
App Assessment Yes Yes
No. of App in the Market Around 1,000 as of 2016/12/19 Around 4,300 as of 2016/12/19
Award Winning Apps Most of the app with award winning or Google Play Japan high Mostly award winning apps
Total no of Users 20 million paid users 40 million MAU
Revenue Based on engaggement US$ 0.002 per minute of engaged user time

Please contact UpSwell for further information.