Youths driving smartphone ownership in APAC: Ericsson

Smartphone ownership by youths in the South East Asia and Oceania region is among one of the largest globally, and it's expected to contribute to the overall five-fold growth the region will experience by 2019, a study by Ericsson shows.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Youths, urbanisation, and the rise of smartphone are driving IT maturity in the South East Asia and Oceania region, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report.

The report shows the region's youth population is more than 170 million, and is among the largest globally. Of that, 77 percent of youths both in Australia and Singapore own a smartphone. But while Australia and Singapore are considered as mature markets of the region, the gap between smartphone ownership compared to developing countries is not significant. In fact, smartphone ownership by youths in both Philippines and Thailand is at 60 percent, whereas for Indonesia it sits at 40 percent.

"Today, smartphone penetration ranges from around 20 percent for developing markets to more than 60 percent for advanced markets," said Arun Bansal, head of Ericsson's region South East Asia and Oceania.

"As smartphone subscriptions are expected to grow about five times, there will be more than 700 million smartphone subscriptions in the region by 2019 and will constitute more than half of its expected 1.3 billion total mobile subscriptions."

The report also showed a high proportion of youths in the region have multiple purposes for their smartphones, such as voice and SMS, web browsing, social networking, and video streaming, as well as apps. In particular, those in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia are active users of apps, especially messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WebChat, KakaoTalk, and Line.

At the same time, the report showed that given there is still limited access to fixed line internet in developing countries, smartphones are used as the main tool to access online services, especially since smartphones have become cheaper with many now costing less than US$100. Unlike Australians who prefer to use larger screen devices, such as a tablet or laptop to access online services, those in Indonesia, Phillipines, and Thailand prefer to use their smartphone.

"In these countries we also observe that the smartphone is the primary device for internet access and as smartphones become cheaper, more consumers will be able to enjoy the benefits of connectivity," Bansal said.

In terms of connectivity, the Ericsson report showed 4G/LTE subscriptions are currently concentrated in developed markets, where Australia and Singapore represent almost all of the 20 million LTE subscriptions the region will have by the end of the year. But by the end of 2019, as networks are deployed in more countries, LTE subscription growth is expected to reach around 230 million subscription, bringing LTE penetration for the region to around 20 percent.

The access to better connectivity in the region is expected to reflect on smartphone subscriptions, which the report has predicted will grow about five times by 2019, and will push smartphone subscriptions in the region in excess of 700 million.

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