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Instant messaging are driving smartphone uptake in Malaysia, says Ericsson

Ericsson ConsumerLab in Southeast Asia and Oceania undertook analysis of an online panel study of 500 Malaysian residents aged 16-60 who are daily internet users. This was part of a survey of 43 countries covering a total of 38,000 people carried out by TNS.

Ericsson-Malaysia-mobility-report-briefing-sept[L-R: Todd Ashton, President of Ericsson Malaysia and Sri Lanka & Afrizal Abdul Rahim, Head of ConsumerLab South East Asia & Oceania]

The research data from 2013 shows that among daily internet users, Malaysia smartphone penetration has increased from 47% in 2012 to 63% in 2013 while tablet penetration has increased almost three-fold from 14% in 2012 to 39% in 2013.

A noticeable change is the jump in apps usage from 54% in 2012 to 76% in 2013 among Malaysian daily internet users. Smartphone penetration increased by 16% from 2012 to 2013.

“The key drivers to purchase a smartphone are to connect to the internet and to be in touch. People’s aspiration to upgrade their current phone and own a smartphone is another key driver,” said Afrizal Abdul Rahim, Head of ConsumerLab South East Asia & Oceania. “Mobile data services continue to experience tremendous growth among smartphone users especially for instant messaging, social network and video streaming.”

“Malaysia started with 47% smartphone penetration in 2012 among daily Internet users. Even as ownership already registered a 16% increase to 63% for 2013, an additional 17% of the respondents surveyed indicated that they would buy a smartphone in the next six months.”

SMS and Internet usage have increased among smartphone users in Malaysia, particularly instant messaging usage which has increased significantly. 2012 was about social networks and 2013 is about personal networks (IM), says Ericsson.

“Word of mouth and curiosity to try out a new app” are the main factors that drive a user to download apps. App users are also motivated by an app’s functionality as well as the ability to communicate.

Among daily internet users, tablet penetration on the other hand increased by 25% from 2012 to 2013. Similar to smartphone, Internet connectivity is an important driver for tablet purchase. The convenience of using a tablet over a computer and smartphone due its size are also key drivers for tablet purchase. From a usage perspective, tablets are nocturnal devices; they are mostly used at night at home. This is followed by the tablet being used as time fillers and as companions during holidays.

The findings on smartphone penetration for Malaysia are aligned with Ericsson’s global findings in its June 2013 Mobility Report.

“Based on the data that we gathered from the networks that we manage around the world, we now forecast an even stronger uptake of smartphones. Smartphone subscriptions in 2018 are now forecast to reach 4.5 billion , compared to our previous (Nov 2012) forecast of 3.3 billion in 2018. This is not least due to a notable increase in the number of smartphone subscriptions in APAC and MEA regions, as subscribers switch their basic phone subscriptions into smartphone subscriptions,” said Todd Ashton, President of Ericsson Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Video is the be the biggest contributor to traffic volumes. “Video will be around 50% of mobile traffic in 2018, according to our estimates,” Todd said.

“Traffic in mobile networks continues to grow at an impressive rate worldwide. While voice remains a cornerstone of most operators’ service offerings, it is data growth, driven by the uptake of smart devices and apps, which is having the most significant impact on networks globally.”

Todd claims that network performance is the number one priority, and addressing it has the largest impact on customer loyalty. He said that moving forward, network operators should focus at building networks that have the right coverage, investment and quality.

According to the Mobility Report, a smartphone user is expected to more than quadruple mobile monthly data consumption by 2018 compared to today, and will reach an average of 2GB data per user in 2018.

“We expect that Malaysian mobile subscribers will indeed increase their mobile monthly data consumption, as its citizens are considered early adopters and innovators when it comes to technology,” Todd stated. “It’s already apparent in the data that we have gathered. Today, as we have seen, Malaysian app usage is ahead compared with its neighbors in Southeast Asia and even in Oceania.”

About Kugan

Kugan is the founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy