Malaysians have the biggest network of online friends with each online user in the country averaging 233 friends across their social networks, according to a new global study released Sunday.
Conducted by research firm TNS, the survey also noted that online users worldwide visited social networking sites more often than they accessed their e-mail. The Global Digital Life report interviewed 50,000 Netizens in 46 countries, including the emerging digital markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC), to study global online user behavior.
While Malaysia's Netizens topped the list of with the most number of online friends, the Japanese online population ranked as the least social with just 29 friends on their social networks, according to the TNS report.
Malaysians were also revealed to be the heaviest users of social networking sites, spending 9 hours per week on these networks despite the country having the costliest broadband in Asia-Pacific and broadband lags in the rural areas.
Netizens in Russia were second, averaging 8.1 hours per week, followed by Turkey at 7.7 hours per week.
Social networking trumps e-mail
According to the survey, online users were spending more time on social networking sites such as Facebook than they were accessing e-mail. TNS added that mobile users spent an average 3.1 hours a week on social networking compared to 2.2 hours on e-mail.
The research firm noted that the rise of social networking sites was driven by consumers moving from PC to mobile devices to access the Internet.
Matthew Froggatt, TNS' chief development officer, added that online consumers now have a greater need for instant gratification. With social networks offering multiple messaging formats, offering access from more platforms, users now also spend more time surfing the Internet on their mobile phones than on PCs.
According to a Pyramid Research report last week, India will overtake China to have the largest number of mobile subscribers, adding 125 million new users a year between 2010 and 2015. By 2015, India is expected to have 1.2 billion mobile subscribers, hitting a mobile penetration rate of 100 percent.
The TNS report also noted that while China currently has the world's biggest online population at 420 million, online users in the country had only an average of 68 friends in their social networks. Froggatt attributed the paradox to a culture that embraces fewer but closer friendships.