Research: Asia world’s biggest mobile internet user

Mobile internet usage is bigger in Asia than anywhere else in the world according to research firm Pingdom, who assessed mobile internet usage as a percentage of total internet usage across the world’s six continents.

The research doesn’t mean to say that Asia generates the most traffic through mobile phones but it does highlight the important and popular role mobile internet is playing across the continent as a whole, enabling those without the finances or accessibility to fixed-line internet to get online. The research also shows how mobile internet has been a key pastime for even those with access to PCs online.

The chart below shows each continent’s usage of mobile internet as a percentage of its total internet usage during October 2010.

While Pingdom adds:

And just to clarify, with the mobile Web we mean the Web accessed from mobile devices (usually phones). The numbers in this article are for the month of October, 2010, and all come from StatCounter, based on visitor statistics from more than three million websites. 

It’s important to note that these numbers are averages. Individual countries can and do differ greatly.

Notable points from the Pingdom blog post announcing the news:

– Several Asian countries, like India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Turkmenistan and Bangladesh, hover around 15% mobile web usage. [The world average is 3.81%]

Nokia phones dominate in these countries. In every single one where mobile web usage makes up an unusually high share, Nokia’s Symbian OS completely dominates. In some countries more than 90% of the mobile web traffic comes from Symbian phones. In others, it has a more “modest” market share of 60-80%. After that are usually phones from Sony Ericsson and Samsung. Smartphones sporting Android, iOS or RIM’s Blackberry have tiny market shares in these countries.

– One exception to the above point: Indonesia, where RIM’s Blackberry accounts for more than 31% of the mobile web traffic. But it’s still second to Nokia’s Symbian.

While an explanation of the results is included too:

The reason these countries have such high mobile web usage compared to desktop web usage (for lack of a better name) is very much a result of economics. A large portion of the population won’t have access to the means needed for a computer and Internet access.

A relatively cheap mobile phone (most often from Nokia, as we have seen) will then be a much more realistic option, and it therefore becomes the way to reach the Web for many. It’s either that or no web access at all, so it’s a matter of necessity.

So that’s why mobile makes up such an unusually large portion of the web traffic in some countries. It’s not a matter of being on the cutting edge. Even in Japan, arguably the most advanced country on the planet when it comes to mobile phones, mobile only makes up 2.17% of web traffic.

Key points – all of which are regular topics covered on this blog:

– Smartphones do not dominate the mobile landscape in Asia (though they are growing as per this post)

– Mobile internet is popular in Asia due to affordability and accessibility

– BlackBerry is huge in Indonesia

– Asia’s high rate of mobile internet usage has increased its social networking footprint globally

Mobile internet access rates are likely to continue to grow, and at faster rates given the potential of future investment in 3.5 and 4G technologies such as LTE – as have been discussed by the Asian telecom industry of late – but it is interesting to see just what an impact mobile is having in Asia.

Side topic, research firm Wireless Intelligence:

The number of users of next-generation LTE technology in the Asia-Pacific region is forecast to surpass 120 million by 2015, according to a major new Wireless Intelligence study. It is forecast that LTE will account for around 3 percent of all connections in the region by this point, driven by key regional markets such as China, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.

The link to the full research announcement (which requires a subscription) is here.

While LTE is unlikely to impact upon mass markets users, initially, it will provide a significantly improved user experience for high-paying users across the region, opening new opportunities on mobile phones and other digital platforms.