Sunday, October 31, 2010

Doorway to the Mobile Internet opens in Southeast Asia, a high growth market in the making

I was writing in my previous post about the "5 Key App Insights from AppsXchange Asia 2010 Event in Singapore" where I was highlighting the evolution of the Asia mobile apps ecosystem.  As I look back over the 10 years, I can't help but feeling amazed on the changes in the consumption habits of the Southeast Asia (SEA - comprise markets like Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore etc) consumers for the Internet, for apps and contents, for checking out and into nearby events - all these, happening on their mobile handsets.  With market competitive dynamics at play, consumers here are increasingly able to get hold of mobile handsets with mobile internet access with supporting data plans.  QWERTY (full keyboard) mobile handsets incidentally are hot not only with working professionals but also with the youths, and these are getting lower in price in the markets here.

Profile the SEA's consumers being largely prepaid customers without data plans, cost-conscious and using their mobile handsets to make a call or sms and you would be very surprised to learn (source, dated 30-OCT-2010: that Indonesia with 29.8M Facebook users is the #2 largest Facebook community globally, with the Philippines with 17.9M Facebook users, also in the top 10 at #6

Consumers in SEA today are getting on their mobile handsets:
1. Faster Mobile Internet speeds to browse the Internet with the deployment of 3G
The sprouting of more and more Internet Cafes and WiFi hotspots, particularly in the tier 1 cities, are catering to the voracious Internet access to the youths, is also a key enabler to mobile internet access and content downloads.

2. Transitioning from sms, to email and social networking interactions
Whilst sms will not yet go away in the forseeable future, mobile email has grown increasingly popular as PC penetration is low in the developing markets.  SEA consumers are also using the mobile internet to reach out in social networks - Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter (btw, Indonesia is in the top 10 of Twitter users globally too!) are the 3 most popular social networks in SEA (source:

3. Colorful and interactive apps and contents
From the days of yore when black and white tones, graphics and games were the in-thing, these days we see that downloads of customization contents like themes, wallpapers, ring tones (also subscribing to ring-back tones) and games are the drawing power for digital content, app stores in SEA.

There are undoubtedly challenges to account for, such as a number of SEA's dominant markets, e.g. Indonesia, Indochina, Thailand, Philippines, are dominated by prepaid customers who shop around for bargains.  However, if you like me, are reading "The Developing World" by Fredrik Haren, you will discover that consumers from developing markets, like in SEA countries, engage more with the Internet and hence social networks, leveraging this global platform to the fullest, voicing their views in blog posts, personal updates, doing research and checking in on the latest events in-country and globally.

Watch out for the rising wave of the Mobile Internet sweeping through Southeast Asia.  What have your Internet experiences been in the Southeast Asia markets?  I will be writing more posts in the future regarding related topics for the SEA countries.

Nelson Wee
connect with me in Twitter @NelsonWee

More Related Reading References:
1. ANALYSIS - Southeast Asia telcos shine, tap mobile data for growth
2. Mobile Phones in South-East Asia - Talk is Cheap
3. Data Services to Drive Growth As Southeast Asia's Mobile Market Nears Saturation
4. Twitter Facts and Figures, 13 MAY 2010
5. Indonesia is The top Twitter users penetration in the world
6. [Updated 19-OCT] Facebook releases Messenger for BlackBerry


James Yong said...

You must teach me to use Ovi and other features on my E72 more effectively. I feel I'm only skimming the surface of the possibility space.

Nelson Wee said...

Hi James,

No probs. Let's arrange to do a meet up and we could go through a hands-on tutorial ... :)