Photo - Sigve Brekke, Telenor Group EVP, Head of Asia Operations and Chairman of Telenor's operations in Malaysia, DiGi Berhad.
A new study released by Norwegian infocommunications firm Telenor Group shows that young mobile Internet users in Malaysia and Thailand are not only in the world's vanguard of mobile Internet usage but surpass users in Scandinavia.
Telenor Group head of Asia operations and chairman of Telenor's operations in Malaysia [DiGi Telecommunications] Sigve Brekke said that the study, conducted by TNS, showed that young Malaysians and Thais relied on their mobile phones for "an unexpectedly wide variety of connectivity needs" and that these patterns also revealed "the massive business development potential Southeast Asia has in the mobile communications technology arena."
Brekke said that although Scandinavia's mobile market "is already highly advanced in every demographic and downloads more overall data, this particular subset of users in Malaysia and Thailand is revealing itself to be more mobile Internet-oriented than their Swedish and Norwegian peers - using more communication platforms."
"The progress we are seeing in the adoption of the latest mobile apps and services among youth in our Southeast Asian markets is rapid," he said. "Our digital frontrunners in Malaysia and Thailand are now some of the most tech- and mobile-savvy young people in the world."
"This indicates to us that the opportunities for sustained growth in the mobile technology space in these markets may be bigger than we expected," said Brekke, adding that mobile Internet was a staple for Malaysian and Thai "digital frontrunners while Scandinavians warm to Internet-powered messaging and chat."
He said that despite the fact that Malaysia and Thailand's ICT infrastructure was not as mature as that of Norway or Sweden, both markets demonstrated, by large margins, more openness to new technology and internet services.
Brekke said other findings include:
- 81 percent of Malaysians and Thais use chat apps for daily communication, as opposed to 44 percent of Swedish and 57 percent of Norwegian respondents.
- Well-known apps like WhatsApp, LINE or WeChat differ in popularity across the four markets, while the only app equally popular in all of the countries is Facebook Chat. WhatsApp and WeChat are top chat apps among Malaysia's digital frontrunners while their Thai counterparts flock to Line and Facebook Messenger. Thailand is LINE's 2nd largest global market.
- SMS services still remain vastly popular in Malaysia, Sweden and Norway with approximately 70 percent of respondents sending them daily. In Thailand, on the other hand, only 31 percent of respondents use SMS at least once a day, partly due to the popularity of internet-based chat apps like LINE or WhatsApp.
- The use of messaging applications grew the fastest in Sweden. All other Internet-enabled communications, including Internet voice, video calls, Internet chat and social media postings also rose in the past year and a half in Sweden.
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