TOKYO: Western smartphone manufacturers are making inroads in the Japanese mobile market, according to comScore.

Overall ownership of Microsoft, Google, Apple, RIM or Palm devices rose by 33.5% between September and December 2010 to reach 6.9% of the total mobile audience - just under seven million people.

Apple remains the market leader, with iPhone ownership growing 48% since June last year to reach 3.8m handsets.

But Google Android-powered devices are growing fastest in popularity, with total ownership rising from 435,000 to 2.2m over the six-month period.

"Recently, carriers and operating systems have made the push into Japan to introduce smartphones into this sophisticated mobile market," comScore said in its report.

"Many smartphones in Japan have advanced capabilities such as mobile wallet, 1seg TV and waterproof features, all which encourage current feature phone users to switch to smartphone devices."

Japan has long pioneered feature phone usage, with the Asian nation launching the world's first mobile phone network in 1979.

It is still the global leader for mobile marketing spend, with figures from Smaato showing the Japanese market is worth around $1bn a year, compared to $800m in the US.

According to comScore, Japan's total mobile audience - including those aged 13 and over only - comes to 100.9 million people.

The Asian nation's total population of over-14s stands at 110.5 million, according to the latest estimates from the Statistics Bureau.

Data sourced from comScore/Warc/Smaato; additional content by Warc staff