Photo - Sajith Sivanandan, MD, Google Malaysia.
A new TNS study shows that Malaysia is one out of only five places in the world where smartphone usage has outstripped computers at 51 percent versus 39 percent and also holds the top spot for smartphone Internet access exclusivity, according to Internet services giant Google.
During the unveiling of the study, the Consumer Barometer 2014, in Kuala Lumpur, Google Malaysia managing director Sajith Sivanandan said Asia was leading in smartphone use and engagement, as well as many other online shopping and viewing behaviours.
The research suggests that users in Asia are leapfrogging the 'desktop' Internet to create a new and exciting mobile-first web landscape, said Sivanandan. As well as Malaysia, the four countries - China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore - are in Asia. In China, the ratio between smartphones and computer usage is 70:65 percent; Hong Kong 74:61 percent; South Korea 80:70 percent and Singapore 85:74 percent, he said.
The study noted the dominance of mobile in Malaysia, with 35 percent of the Malaysian users surveyed reporting that they exclusively use their smartphones and no other device to access the Internet, making Malaysia the #1 country in the world when it comes to smartphone Internet access exclusivity.
"It's amazing to see Malaysia in the top 5 global mix," Sivanandan said. "This is a massive wake up call to any business in Malaysia without a mobile-optimised site or app. In 2014, this is no longer a viable approach - you're effectively slamming your shop door in the face of customers. It's vital for every business to think mobile first in the context of a consumer's daily life."
He said the same high smartphone adoption pattern stretched across the rest of the Asia Pacific region with many of the countries above the 50 percent adoption mark. Even countries that traditionally have lagged behind have registered significant growth like Vietnam at 36 percent, up 16 percent from 2013.
Sivanandan said that apart from Malaysia, the only smartphone-only Internet access was true for 24 percent of Vietnam users, 16 percent of Singapore users and 14 percent of South Korea and Hong Kong users. In the Western world this trend is a single-digit one: e.g. Germany is at 7 percent, the UK at 6 percent.
The TNS study showed Malaysians using their phones for some of the following:
- Using search engines on smartphones is ubiquitous.
§ 72 percent of Malaysians do this at least once a month, and the figures are even higher in the rest of Asia (Singapore: 88 percent, Vietnam: 92 percent, Korea: 99 percent, Japan: 91 percent). This is a global trend with the UK, France and Germany all reporting figures of 88 percent.
- Where Asia really stands out is shopping on smartphones.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.