Smartphones Surging in Southeast Asia | Nielsen Wire

Almost half of online consumers in Southeast Asian countries who say they do not own a smartphone, say they plan on buying a smartphone in 2011 according to a recent global online survey from The Nielsen Company. About a quarter (24%) of survey respondents said they already own a smartphone, up from 21 percent at the start of 2010. Singapore led the region, with 46 percent of those surveyed saying they owned a smartphone, while Thailand and Malaysia posted the most aggressive growth in the sector, 47 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

Of those who claim they do not have a smartphone yet, Indonesian netizens appear to be the most likely to buy a smartphone, with 51 percent indicating that they “definitely/probably will purchase” the device in the next 12 months. In Singapore, where the penetration of smartphones is highest amongst netizens in the region, the number is about 38 percent. Male netizens across the region are more likely to buy a smartphone, with 50 percent indicating an intention of buying, compared to 41 percent of female netizens. On the same count, half of online consumers aged 25-34 planned on buying the device.


“Mobile devices will continue to see solid growth in the near future, although that growth will not be even across the region. The more sophisticated markets like Singapore will drive growth, while developing markets like Vietnam will grow more slowly,” said Suresh Ramalingam, Managing Director, Telecom Practice, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa at The Nielsen Company.

While text messaging continues to be the most popular activity on a mobile phone (92% of respondents claimed to have texted in the past 30 days), accessing the Internet on the devices is now the second-most popular activity (50%), and that number is set to increase as 62 percent of netizens in Southeast Asian planned on doing so in the next 12 months. Reading email, playing games and instant messaging rounded out the top five activities done on a mobile phone.

“Mobile Internet usage is destined to grow dramatically. As the region’s consumers continue to become more affluent, smartphone penetration will rise and the number of people access the Internet via mobiles will increase, especially with greater flexibility and affordability in data plans,” said Ramalingam.

When it comes to choosing smartphone operating systems, 58 percent of survey respondents preferred Nokia OS (the preferred OS in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines) and 37 percent preferred Apple OS (the favorite in Singapore). One in five said they used BlackBerry, followed by Microsoft (18%) and Android (16%). About 20 percent of online survey respondents said they had downloaded a mobile app in the past 30 days.