Nielsen report: the smartphone adoption gap in Asia Pacific

Last year, a Google representative from the Asia Pacific predicted that mobile devices will slowly overtake PCs in the region. While this holds to be true, smartphone adoption still still has room growth for the entire Asia Pacific region, according to a recent report released by Nielsen.

Nielsen smartphone adoption
While the region has strong smartphone adoption rates in general, the report reveals that Asia still has its share of ups and downs, showing markets with both high and low smartphone penetration.
Not surprisingly, developed countries in the region have high smartphone penetration: Hong Kong and Singapore clock in at 87 percent, followed by Malaysia (80 percent) and Australia (75 percent). While tagged as part of the emerging market, China also boasts 71 percent of smartphone adoption.

Growth areas

However, a number of countries have yet to bring up this number for the region. To date, the Philippines has the lowest smartphone penetration with only 15 percent. This is followed by India (18 percent) and Indonesia (23 percent). Meanwhile, Thailand has a rather average adoption rate at 49 percent.

Nielsen’s telecom and technology practice director in Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific Sagar Phadke says, “the growth in connected device ownership across Asia Pacific has been staggering in recent years.” Nonetheless, he notes:

While this growth is expected to begin levelling out, consumers’ use of connected devices will continue to evolve and expand, presenting vast opportunities for organisations to engage with consumers on an almost ubiquitous platform.

smartphone penetration

Despite the fact that there are areas with both low and high adoption in the Asia Pacific region, Nielsen still sees a common theme when it comes to purchasing mobile devices, and how consumers use them.

Across the region, brand and features rank as the most common factors in choosing a smartphone. Likewise, word-of-mouth, social media, internet reviews, and blogs play a significant role in influencing consumers’ choice of smartphone. In general, screen size and touchscreen functionality is becoming increasingly important to consumers. But for specific markets, like Indonesia, India and the Philippines, QWERTY keyboards remain in high demand.

What do Asians do with their smartphones?

Many countries have similarities when it comes to consumer habits and smartphone usage. In Southeast Asia alone, smartphone owners spent more than three hours per day on average on their smartphones in June 2013. Chat apps, social networking and entertainment activities, like games and multimedia, drive the highest levels of engagement.

Here are some of the other notable consumer habits in Asia Pacific:

  • Multiple handset ownership – We reported earlier that the residents of Philippines’ Metro Manila area has an average of 4.6 devices which includes laptops, tablets, desktop PCs, smart TVs, and smartphones. Now the report shows that this is even a trend in the entire region, and Malaysia tops the most consumers with multiple handsets at 47 percent.
  • Mobile video – Sagar says, “in the majority of Asia Pacific markets, consumers who are watching mobile video are doing so more than 10 times per week on average.” This is even more particular in Hong Kong and Singapore. More than half (53 percent) of Hong Kong consumers viewed video on a mobile device in the past 30 days, and 38 percent of Singaporeans did, too.
  • Mobile commerce – Sagar says “mobile-commerce is already a developed habit” in Japan and Korea. And he predicts that other markets will follow this trend. A number of e-commerce sites are already launching their mobile apps in the rest of Asia to keep up. Rocket Internet’s Lazada is one of them.
  • Mobile advertising – This is a trend Accenture saw two years back. Sagar says people don’t mind having free apps with advertisements as long as it’s not disruptive to the user experience. As mobile advertising is still in its nascent stage, mobile advertisers can still experiment with advertising formats “to see what works and what doesn’t,” he adds. With these habits revealed by the study, it showed that consumers are slowly growing dependent on their device’s capabilities and features. It’s certain that smartphone adoption will still increase in the emerging markets, especially with the increasing presence of low-cost smartphones in the region.

Source: Mag