Au Smart Pass, the one-year-old Android app buffet from Japan’s KDDI, hits 5m customers

Au Smart Pass, the one-year-old Android app buffet from Japan’s KDDI, hits 5m customers

A year after launch, Japan’s second largest operator KDDI says that its au Smart Pass service — an all-you-can-eat buffet selection of Android apps — has passed a cumulative 5 million customers.

The service is designed to make finding and using mobile apps easier. KDDI selected 500 top apps which customers enjoy unlimited free user of for 390 yen (around $4.17) per month. That selection includes a broad range of free and premium apps, including popular messaging app Line, mobile-only browser Dolphin, games from top publishers like Gameloft and more.

The package also includes discount coupons, a points service, 50 GB of storage for photos and videos, and security programs for their device.

au smart pass

Au Smart Pass made a promising start to live when it racked up 400,000 signups within just three weeks of launch, as Japan-based analyst Serkan Toto noted, and it continues to grow. KDDI doesn’t delve into details of its users, instead noting that the service has “great popularity among a diverse range of male and female users from all age groups.”

The service — which is rivaled by a similar offering from DoCoMo, Japan’s top operator — has the potential to be hugely disruptive as it offers app makers an alternative avenue to reach users. As Toto pointed out, that’s particularly powerful when it comes to content and games, since it rivals Japanese mobile gaming giants GREE and DeNA, and messaging apps Line and Kakao Talk which recently opened games services.

KDDI also offers similar monthly packages for ebooks, music and video.

A word on the Android-only support. While the iPhone is now Japan’s most popular smartphone, Android has the widest base, to the point that other companies — such as mobile incentivization startup Metaps — are also singularly focused on the Google-owned platform.

Headline image via YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / Getty Images

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