An Innovating and Thriving App Landscape in Japan

An Innovating and Thriving App Landscape in Japan


In the fast-paced digital economy, Japanese app developers are harnessing their creativity and technical prowess to create innovative apps that captivate audiences both in Japan and worldwide. In 2023 alone, they have produced 8,500 brand-new mobile apps and games, including more than 250 AI-based ones.[1] 

At the heart of this thriving landscape lies Google Play, empowering developers to turn their creative visions into global successes while simultaneously enriching the lives of consumers by providing choice and safety.

Japanese Ingenuity on Display

Iconic names like Konami, already renowned for franchises like Castlevania and Yu-Gi-Oh!, have seamlessly transitioned to the mobile landscape to capture the fast-growing sports genre, achieving worldwide acclaim with its eFootball (formerly Pro Evolution Soccer) and Professional Baseball Spirits A titlesThese titles have captured the hearts of sports fans worldwide, showcasing Japan’s ability to blend beloved genres with mobile-friendly experiences.

Beyond established players like Konami, innovative startups are also making their mark, applying artificial intelligence (AI) in very tangible ways. Go, launched in 2020 but now already Japan’s leading taxi-hailing provider, uses AI to suggest routes for drivers that will maximize the chance of picking up a passenger. Simultaneously, users can reserve taxis up to seven days ahead of time, thanks to Go’s AI-informed demand forecasting.

Google Play: Empowering Developers

Konami and Go’s rapid ascent to success was not achieved alone. Modern app distribution platforms, like Google Play, have become invaluable tools for developers, offering easy promotional avenues and instant access to a massive global audience of billions of Android users.

But Google offers more than just exposure. It provides a comprehensive suite of tools and resources, including AI-powered coding companion Gemini In Android Studio which uses our state of the art AI model, Gemini Pro, to empower developers throughout their app development journey. Developers can beta-test their apps, customize their performance, optimize their app store listings and use data analytics  through developer tools to grow. The platform also makes it easy for developers to differentiate audiences by device – and create custom experiences for people using smartphones, wearables, foldables, tablets and even PCs.

A Thriving App Hub Going Global

Japan is a vibrant hub of mobile innovation, boasting the 8th largest developer community on Google Play.[2] Not resting on their laurels, with over 17,700 active developers maintaining 60,000 live apps, this dynamic community is a significant economic force, supporting an estimated 920,000 direct, indirect and spillover jobs.[3] That’s around half of the entire agriculture industry’s workforce.

Japanese developers are also making a significant impact globally. Nearly half of them have international users forming more than 10% of their user base, with the US, Brazil, and Indonesia being key markets.[4] This showcases Japan’s ability to capture the preferences of users from some of the biggest markets.

In 2023, Japanese developers earned an estimated JPY 3.08 trillion through Google Play.[5] This is equivalent to 0.52% of Japan’s GDP in 2023. Out of the total revenue developers in Japan earned through Google Play, around JPY 485 billion came from overseas users.[6] As a result, this vibrant landscape in Japan has enabled developers to capture around 1.7% of worldwide app downloads and 15.5% of worldwide app revenue earned through Google Play in 2023.[7] This highlights the power of Google Play to facilitate international expansion and drive economic growth for Japanese developers.

Supporting Developers

Google’s commitment to the developer community goes beyond providing a platform.

To ensure compatibility across devices, Google provides free access to Android’s source code and compatibility standards. This allows developers to focus on innovation, not compatibility issues.

Google Play’s business model also ensures that the platform continues to invest in supporting developers. While a service fee applies to developers who charge for their apps or offer in-app purchases, a vast majority (97%) of developers distribute their apps for free and utilize all of Google Play’s developer tools and services at no cost.

Enriching Consumers

Google’s commitment extends beyond developers; it also focuses on enriching the experiences of consumers. Consumer choice and safety are paramount in the digital realm.

Google Play’s vast catalogue caters to a wide range of interests and needs for consumers. From productivity tools that enhance daily life to entertainment options that spark joy, Google Play has something for everyone. Android is also continually reimagining the user experience with incremental improvements rolling out in Android 15, bringing new formats such as accessing AR content directly in Google Maps and Google Cast in Android Automative OS.

To safeguard users, Google Play Protect rigorously screens more than 200 billion apps daily for malware to keep the platform and devices safe. Later this year, Google Play Protect will use on-device AI to spot apps that might engage in fraud or phishing. Android’s safety features also extend to the physical world, with 99% of Android devices equipped with an emergency location service.

A Bright Future Ahead

The success stories of Konami, Go, and countless other developers are just the beginning. With a supportive environment, Japanese app developers are set to remain at the forefront of innovation, pushing boundaries and creating apps that delight and empower users worldwide

Important information: 
This post has been prepared by Access Partnership for Google. All information in this post is derived or estimated by Access Partnership analysis using both non-Google proprietary and publicly available information. Google has not supplied any additional data, nor does it endorse any estimates made in this post. Where information has been obtained from third-party sources and proprietary research or from Access Partnership’s own modelling, this is clearly referenced in the hyperlinks and footnotes. 


[1] Access Partnership estimates
[2] AppFigures estimates
[3] Access Partnership estimates
[4] Access Partnership estimates
[5] Access Partnership estimates
[6] Access Partnership estimates
[7] Access Partnership estimates


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