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Tablet-based Web traffic rising in Asia

Mobile phones main driver of growth but tablets increasingly accounting for non-PC Web traffic in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, reveals new data.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

While mobile phones are the predominant non-PC device accounting for Web traffic in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, tablets increasingly are also driving overall online activities and will "eat away" PC-based traffic.

According to a new study by market research firm ComScore, in Singapore, 5.9 percent of Web traffic in May 2011 originated from non-PC devices. Of this number, 4 percent were mobile devices which comprised smartphones and feature phones.

Tablet-driven traffic stood at 1.6 percent, while the remaining 0.3 percent came from other Web-enabled devices such as the Apple iPod Touch, said Joe Nguyen, ComScore vice president for Southeast Asia and India, who presented the findings Tuesday at a Web seminar.

Titled "Beyond the PC: How Digital Consumption is Evolving in Southeast Asia", the study covered three Asian countries including Malaysia and Hong Kong, and was part of a global report which polled more than 13 countries globally.

Nguyen noted that 4 percent was "quite a big number" for mobile traffic in Singapore, compared to only 1.6 percent for tablets.

The disparity between the two devices, however, was less pronounced for the other two Asian nations. In Malaysia, non-PC devices accounted for 3.6 percent of overall traffic, of which 2.4 percent originated from mobile and 1.1 percent from tablets.

The gap was smaller in Hong Kong where mobile phones made up 1.9 percent of non-PC traffic, with tablets following closely behind at 1.5 percent. Some 3.5 percent of Web traffic in the city came from non-computer devices.

Nguyen noted that although Singapore had the highest share of tablet-based traffic among the three Asian markets, the number of tablets used to access the Web was the lowest in the city-state.

Tablet devices drove 42 percent of non-computer traffic in Hong Kong, while in Malaysia, it was 30.8 percent. In Singapore, this number stood at 27.7 percent.

Asked if tablet-driven traffic would eventually overtake that of mobile phones, Nguyen told ZDNet Asia that tablets will "eat away" at PC-based traffic rather than mobile.

"People tend to consume long-form content on tablets as they do on PC, whereas mobile consumption is more bite-sized," he explained in a separate e-mail.

He added that the use of PC as the core Web connectivity device is declining and expected to go lower than the current 95 percent average--as seen in the three Asian countries--but Nguyen expressed "doubt" that this figure would go below 50 percent.

"Humans are increasingly multitasking [between devices], and people still want to [be able to] sit down and read content and watch videos," he noted.

Feature phones still strong
Nguyen also pointed out that while smartphones accounted for a large share of Web traffic in most markets surveyed worldwide, feature phones also made up a significant share in a number of markets including those in Asia-Pacific. In India, for instance, these devices contributed 71.9 percent of non-PC traffic.

He added that 14.8 percent of non-PC traffic in Malaysia originated from feature phones, compared to 1.7 percent in Hong Kong and 1.5 percent in Singapore.

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