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The wide variety of features, many original to or limited to Japan, lead to the term "Galápagos syndrome", as these resulting phones were dominant in the island nation of Japan, but unsuccessful abroad. There is some overlap of market segments between low-end smart phones and high-end feature phones, and many shared features.PHS, which was initially developed as a cheaper alternative to 2G networks such as CDMA and GSM, was initially deployed in 1995, but is now only offered by one carrier, Y! As elsewhere in the world, smart phones have been growing extremely quickly.Older arcade-style games became particularly popular on mobile phones, which were an ideal platform for arcade-style games designed for shorter play sessions.

The number of icons gradually increased and they are now coloured on most cell phones, to make them more distinct.

As of May 2008, 31.3% of elementary school students, and 57.6% of middle school students own a cell phone, with many of them accessing the Internet through them. The first camera phone J-Phone (Stylized as 写メール, which stands for Photo-Mail) was released in November 2000, and not only included a camera but also the function to send photographs via messaging or E-mail, which made the phone extremely popular at the time.

Technologies like 3G Mobile Broadband were common in Japan before any other country.

Namco began attempting to introduce mobile gaming to Europe in 2003.

Other mobile games released in 2003 included a Tamagotchi-like virtual pet game by Panasonic where the pet can be fed with photos of foods taken with a camera phone.