Survey: Smartphone usage by young varies by region

Survey: Smartphone usage by young varies by region

Telenor's study shows young smartphone users are pushing the popularity of new mobile services. WICHAN CHAROENKIATPAKUL
Telenor's study shows young smartphone users are pushing the popularity of new mobile services. WICHAN CHAROENKIATPAKUL

Young smartphone users in Asia are pushing the popularity of new mobile services, according to a study by Telenor of Norway, the major shareholder of Total Access Communication (DTAC).

Telenor Research issued a new study finding internet usage among young mobile device owners in Asia varies greatly across the region as well as in comparison with their European peers.

The study was carried out in the fourth quarter of 2015 with 5,600 respondents in seven countries: Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Serbia, Hungary, Sweden and Norway. They were aged 16-35 and use internet on their mobile phones, a demographic Telenor identifies as "digital frontrunners".

The survey examined usage patterns across a wide range of internet activities, from browsing, messaging and sharing, to shopping and watching videos.

Data analysis provided an indication as to how the wider demographic in these seven countries will adopt mobile internet in the years ahead.

"It is crucial to have surveys like this one looking at digital frontrunners who can help forecast future industry trends," said Bjorn Taale, head for research of Telenor Research.

"Not only is this information beneficial in planning our digital services, it is also interesting to see the resemblance between nations as diverse as Thailand, Hungary, Pakistan or Norway."

As apps continue to proliferate for smartphones, one might assume today's young users could easily forget the main function of mobile phones when they originated -- voice calls.

However, the survey shows traditional voice calls are still a part of the communication mix. Thai frontrunners were in the middle of the pack, with voice making up 58% of smartphone usage.

Only 40% of Malaysian frontrunners said traditional phone calls make up a high frequency of usage, while some 18% said they only make voice calls "once a month or never".

When asked which communication service they considered most important for a mobile phone, the majority of respondents in every country except Malaysia pointed to traditional mobile voice calls. In Malaysia, a large majority listed messaging apps as crucial.

Many of these digital frontrunners are moving towards more internet-based services.

The use of internet voice calls was most popular among the Thai frontrunners, with 65% using them daily, while only 3% said they never use this means of communication.

Strikingly, the Nordic respondents showed very little use of internet voice services with 37% and 36% of Norwegians and Swedes respectively stating they have never utilised this type of call.

Video calls were most popular among Thai digital frontrunners, with 52% stating they use them daily, while only 5% of Norwegians use it with the same frequency.

Serbian (76%), Malaysian (71%) and Thai (68%) respondents said they use messaging apps several times a day, followed by Hungary (60%), Norway (53%), Sweden (44%) and Pakistan (29%).

That helps explain why Pakistan still has one of the heaviest uses of the traditional SMS, with 66% of Pakistani frontrunners using SMS several times daily.

Despite this, SMS use is not a distinguishing factor between emerging and established markets. Frontrunners in Norway (56%) and Sweden (48%) use SMS numerous times per day, while 49% of respondents in Thailand say they use it once a month or never.

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