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Smartphone ownership rises across Asia-Pacific

The Nation/Asia News Network--Smartphone ownership continues to increase prevalence in the Asia-Pacific region in recent years, and in many markets smartphones now outnumber non-smartphones, including Singapore, which has the highest smartphone ownership in Asia-Pacific, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Nielsen's Smartphone Insights Study, conducted across 39 markets globally (including 13 Asia-Pacific markets), highlighted this pushed up mobile Internet usage, in particular social networking and internet search.

In Japan, close to nine in 10 smartphones users (86 percent) accessed the Internet via their mobile phone in the past month, as did 80 percent of smartphone users in Korea and 76 percent of smartphone users in Hong Kong. Mobile social networking was especially popular in Hong Kong and Malaysia, where 76 percent and 74 percent of smartphone users respectively engaged in mobile social networking in the past month.

The Nielsen study also revealed the growing affinity of smartphone users toward tablets in some markets. In markets such as China, Thailand and Malaysia, around one-third of the smartphone users owned a tablet (39 percent, 32 percent and 30 percent respectively) highlighting the importance of understanding interaction between the two device types as well as the need to identify differences in content consumption across devices.

Smartphone popularity was also driving increased usage of location-based services (LBS) across the region, with smartphone users significantly more likely to tap into such services. Korea had the highest usage of LBS amongst smartphone users (59 percent), followed by Japan (56 percent) and Hong Kong and Taiwan (both 53 percent).

“Growing use of location-based services and location-aware services such as maps and navigation present strong opportunities for companies to tap into the functionality and insight that these services present,” observes Vishal Bali, Managing Director of Nielsen's Telecom Industry Group in the APMEA Region.

“In particular, location-aware services provide great potential for location-based shopping and convenience services. Although currently both location-based and location-aware services are being primarily utilized by smartphone users in mature markets such as Korea, Japan, Singapore and China, other markets in Asia such as Indonesia and Malaysia where currently the usage is more focused on social networking and search will be quick to catch up as availability of these services improves.”

With a plethora of applications now available for smartphone users, app usage across Asia-Pacific is high. Korea and Japan had the highest incidence of apps usage in the past month (81 percent), while Korea and Singapore smartphone users had the largest number of regularly used apps (median of 55 and 47 respectively). Games were the most popular app category across the Asia-Pacific region, with the exception of Indonesia where music and social networking apps were favored.

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