TOKYO: The number of Japanese consumers who watched television on their mobile phone climbed to 32% in 2008, more than double the total from the previous year, according to the Global Telecoms Insights study from TNS.

According to recent research from the Nikkei Advertising Research Institute – reported in full here – "consumer purchasing patterns have greatly changed" in Japan, with digital media, including mobile, now playing a central role in influencing the products people buy in various categories.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications estimates that there are currently 106 million mobile subscribers in the country.

Having launched a free-to-air mobile TV service, 1Seg, in 2006, Japan is also home to one of the world's most advanced markets, with some 40% of handsets offering access to this broadcast content.

A recent study by Infinita found that 8% of Japanese adults with enabled handsets watched mobile TV every day, although this figure has fallen by 4% on that recorded for the whole of 2006.

By contrast, 12% of this group accessed broadcast material on their cellphones three or four times a week, while 17% did so "once or twice" in this period.

However, 45% of participants also said they watched broadcast content on their mobiles "spontaneously," compared with just 18% who did not use this facility at all.

TNS also found that 50% of Japanese consumers use their phones to send text messages, a figure that was largely due to the fact that only 55% of wireless handsets in the country offer an SMS facility.

The number of people accessing the mobile web has also declined, falling from 66% in 2006 to 53% in 2007, the research firm found.

Data sourced from TNS/Infinita; additional content by WARC staff