Asian Internet user unveiled

Web users in Asia are demonstrating an ability to adopt advanced Internet features. However, the adoption of e-commerce still seems a little slow compared to western countries - concludes the latest survey by NetValue.
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor

HONG KONG - NetValue today released its first wave of full data on Internet usage behaviors for Asia. A bird's-eye view of online habits across five Asian markets, the report offers wide ranging insights into Asian users' preferences on the Web.

Aside from offering statistics on web usage, protocols such as instant messaging, audio, video, e-mail, chats and game usages are also featured.

According to the Hong Kong based company's findings, online consumers in some Asian markets use an even larger number of protocols than Internet users in the more mature markets of U.S. and Europe.

The findings are done on a panel-based format, panel sizes ranged from 900 to 1200 depending on the market. Five Asian markets, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and China are covered in the report.

"With the recent cool down of the Internet industry - corporate downsizing and layoffs, companies folding - it has become critical for corporations to understand their target consumers and make effective, informal strategic decision," said Darlene Lee, President, NetValue.

Hong Kong leads the way in this protocol, with more than 63% of users hooked on instant messaging (IM).

The reach of Hong Kong (63%) and Singapore (52%) are markedly higher than the IM figure for the U.S. (32%).

Koreans, at a 6% reach, seem to have the least interest in doing instant messaging compared to other Asian markets.

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Audio and video: Korea tunes into the future

Korea is the all-out winner for this protocol, with over three times as many people engaging in audio and video usage than Americans. The high instance of broadband penetration in Korea (38%) compared with other Asian markets could account for this figure.

In other Asian markets, broadband penetration is less than 10% and this figure drops to 6% in the U.S.

"The advanced usage of audio/video in Korea is a good indicator for those moving into the broadband content and advertising realm on the Internet. Marketers and advertisers alike should keep a close watch over the development in Korea - here we're seeing a glimpse of the future for the Asia Pacific market," says Clayton Fitts, VP sales & marketing, NetValue.

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Unprecedented usages levels in Singapore - the city has a reach of 33% while all the other markets are below 10%.

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E-mail: Asia, you've got mail

Singapore and Taiwan have the heaviest e-mail activity, with more than 44 e-mails either sent or received per Internet user in September.

On average, Asia falls short of the statistics seen from the U.S. (73 e-mails), is on par with U.K. (43 e-mails), and exceeds the statistics for France (25 e-mails). The heavy use of instant messaging in Asia might be one of the causes of lower levels of e-mails sent and received.

Hong Kong and Korea spends an equally large amount of time on the Web (12 days per user), with Singapore matching the U.S. (11 days). Internet users in Taiwan spend 10 days out of the month surfing the Web, which is longer than France and the U.K. where the average user in both countries spends 9 days.

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Koreans are visiting more sites than any other Asian markets, with 84 sites recorded per user.

This figure far surpasses those recorded for other markets, with Hong Kong trailing in second place at only 60 sites visited per user.

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In terms of hours spent surfing per user, China's Internet userts might spend the least amount of time compared to other Asian markets (at 6 hours on average per user), but are on the exact same level as users from U.K. and France.

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Asian markets have a consistent pattern when it comes to visiting e-commerce sites (between 58-63%), but they are lagging behind U.S. (73%) and France (68%).

"Looking at it from a global perspective, the Asia Pacific market is considered to be a newcomer in Internet usage. However, they have been quick to adopt many of the different Internet protocols such as instant messaging, audio/video and chat - signs of advanced usage behavior," said Fitts. "But usage rates in Asia of the websites that are actually related to online transactions - e-commerce sites - are still much lower compared with the U.S. and Europe."

"Asian users don't appear to be as receptive to purchasing online as users in the West," Fitts added.

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