Interface Asia’s 2nd issue of I-News delves further into the idiosyncrasies of the cell phone market in East Asia. There are numerous similarities throughout Japan, China, and Korea. Most people in the same age group, regardless of nationality, call people from the same social demographic. The lifecycle of cell phones and the time frame for purchasing a new phone are also largely the same. However, there are numerous differences. Japanese and Korean respondents tend to value similar features and functions, while the Chinese value very different ones. But when it comes to the basic design of the phone, each of the three countries prefers a different basic design. Please read more below for additional details.
Question 1: When making calls, with whom do you speak the most frequently?
For the Under 24 group, respondents in all 3 countries answered in a similar way:
1.) The group most commonly called was friends. But in Japan, the family and friends groups were neary equal (unlike in China and Korea).
2.) Note that boy or girlfriends were a significant result for this age group, which makes sense given that most people in this age range are unmarried.
For the Over 25 group, there weresome similarities between the 3 countries, but there were also some significant differences:
3.) Calls to boy or girlfriends decreased significantly in each country, likely due to the fact that a larger proportion of this age group is married.
4.) Calls to family and to colleagues from work also increased, also likely due to older respondents' focus on spouses and work.
5.) For the Japanese and Koreans, family was the most commonly called group, particularly for the Japanese.
6.) For the Chinese, friends were the most commonly called group.
7.) Japanese respondents also reported a significant proportion of calls to other, unspecified groups (additional details are unavailable). This is noticeably different from the Chinese and Koreans.
Question 2: What is your average monthly payment to your wireless provider?
The data presented in this question is difficult to interpret. However, we can compare the dollar range for cell phone service spent in each country (converted to US dollars):
1.) Japan is the highest, ranging from $0-186. Korea ranges from $0-105, and China $0-27.
Comparing this information to the monthly GDP per person in each country (roughly
$2,900 in Japan, $1,400 in Korea, and $140 in China  ), we get a rough idea of
the relative cost in each country.
2.) Japan is the lowest at 6.3%, Korea is at 7.6%, China is at 19.1%. The higher percentage in China may be partially expalined by the large rural population with smaller contributions to GDP. Our survey results are derived from respondents in large cities, so this figure is artificially high.
The interpretation is complex and should also consider numerous other factors.
 Figures derived from the Economist's Pocket World in Figures 2008 edition.
Question 3: When did you purchase your cell phone?
The results for each country are very similar:
1.) Most people in Korea, China, and Japan have cell phones between 6-24 months old.
2.) A greater proportion of respondents have cell phones of 0-6 months old than those with cell phones areater than 24 months old, suggesting (on a nationwide basis) that the average life cycle of a cell phone is less than 2 years.
Question 4: When will you buy your next cell phone?
The overall pattern of intended cell phone purchases is largely similar in each country:
1.) But Japanese respondents are more unclear about when they will purchase a new cell phone. This could be explained by uncertainty in the timing of future technological advancements or could be linked to other cultural factors.
2.) On the other hand, Chinese respondents are more confident than Koreans and Japanese that they will buy a new cell phone within the 3-12 month time frame.
3.) Koreans are most likely to purchase a new phone in 1-2 years.
Question 5: What feature will be the most important when purchasing your next cell phone?
* The China and Japan surveys allowed multiple responses; the Korea survey allowed just one.
The most important cell phone features are not universal in Asia.
1.) Japan and Korea value similar features, namely the price, design, and color.
2.) In China however, price is important, but so is the brand and battery life. The design and color are ranked 5th in overall importance among the Chinese respondents
Question 6: What function will be the most important when you purchasing your next cell phone?
In Asia overall, still and video camera functions are the most important.
1.) This can also be said of the Korean and Japanese respondents specifically.
2.) In China, however, business software and security are the msot important functions.
3.) China also appears to be more selective in the functions a cell phone has. Very few respondents selected "Don't care" in China, while many more chose this option in Japan and Korea.
Question 7: What phone style would be you prefer when purchasing your next cell phone?
1.) Chinese respondents clearly prefer the flat or "candy bar" type cell phones when compared to Koreans and Japanese.
2.) Equally as clear is the Japanese preference for flip-open or "clanshell" designs. Advanced multi-media functions are often available in clamshell designs. Japanese renowned preference for advanced multi-media may explain the preference for clamshell designs.
3.) Korean respondents prefer the slide-open design when compared to its neighbors, however the clamshell designs are also popular.