Current global market shares for Windows tablets may not look too good, but in Japan Windows tablet sales are on the rise, thanks perhaps to the power of cuteness.
The year 2013 did not particularly end well for Microsoft’s tablet market share. On total, the company had only accumulated a total of 2.1 percent, equivalent to about 4 million units sold worldwide. The numbers are of course still growing, but the overwhelming number of iOS and Android units makes their stride look tiny in comparison.
The case isn’t the same for Japan however. Surprisingly, the market share for Windows tablets in Japan currently strikes at a considerable rate of 15.3 percent, which is obviously many times higher compared to its global market share. Moreover, this estimated market share doesn’t even count the number of Microsoft Surface tablets sold in Japan, which, when added to the total, could even go over 20 percent.
There are a number of technical factors considered for this, such as the immediate availability of Windows 8 tablets using Bay Trail processors. However, there is another suggested reason for this, and that these sales figures are actually indirectly supported by a cute little game franchise.
Kantai Collection (“Combined Fleet Collection”, abbreviated as KanColle or KanKore) is an online flash-based social media card game which features cute anthropomorphized versions of World War II military battleships. Each character in the game represents a specific type or name of a battleship. Shimakaze, one the most popular characters in the game for example, represents a Shimakaze destroyer. The game had gained wide popularity in Japan since its release last April 2013, and has quickly grown to a multimedia franchise featuring comic books, light novels, and even an upcoming Playstation Vita game.
So, how exactly does the KanColle series support Japanese Windows tablet sales? The first reason would perhaps be the fact that it is a browser game. As Windows 8 is more optimized for tabletop use, a Windows tablet may have the double advantage of being handier than a notebook PC while still being browser-game friendly. In fact, the game officially recommends Windows as the best platform to play it. Another theory is that by the time KanColle was released, a considerable number of Windows tablet models were already available. This made the game act as a sort of “killer app” for the tablets as it grew more and more popular, though this idea is more of a conjecture than a statistically proven statement.
Regardless of the actual reason however, the idea that moe battleships in cute uniforms and outfits positively affecting Windows tablet sales probably wouldn’t please Microsoft that much. Though, if the company did try to ride the cutesy waves, it wouldn’t exactly be its first time to do so.