Chatting up a Smart Nation: How will we connect?
By Poshu Yeung January 9, 2015
- In today’s mobile-first reality, multi-device Internet access is the prevailing trend
- The all-in-one social experience will become the future of social media
THE Internet and social media have played a big part in changing how content is created, distributed and consumed.
Close to half of the world’s population is now connected to the Internet, while the number of connected devices is expected to rise to 26 billion by 2020.
Singapore, in particular, stands out as one of the most connected countries in the world, with a smartphone penetration at 85%. It is indeed a status befitting a young nation that has been dubbed Asia’s innovation capital, which is on an ambitious path towards becoming the world’s first ‘smart nation.’
From face-to-face to mobile phone calls or social media, the way people are interacting with each other is evolving by leaps and bounds.
So, what changes – in the way we chat and connect – can we expect to see in 2015, as Singapore comes together to celebrate her 50th jubilee?
A mobile-first mentality
A recent study by GlobalWebIndex (GWI), a market research company specialising in online consumer behaviour, revealed that mobile networking, or the act of logging onto social media via a mobile phone, is booming.
Close to half of all Internet users in Asia Pacific are now logging onto social networks via their mobile phones, and it is no surprise that Singaporeans have a mobile-first mentality with its high smartphone penetration.
Multi-device Internet access remains the prevailing trend in this region, in today’s mobile-first reality. And this is a trend that will be increasingly reflected across social networking platforms and activities.
Mobile Internet and the adoption of smartphones are already deeply entrenched into our everyday lives, with people becoming increasingly active on their mobile devices and communicating via various messaging services.
In fact, the same GWI study pointed out that a large percentage of those surveyed feel more insecure without their mobile phone than their wallet.
Passive social media users
While social networks such as Facebook continue to reign in Singapore, the way people are interacting on Facebook as well as other major social networks is changing.
People are doing fewer things on social media. Instead, they are becoming more passive in character – looking at newsfeeds than actively contributing.
On the other hand, the number of people using mobile messaging apps are booming, climbing from around 450 million at the end of 2012 to well over 600 million as we approached the end of 2014.
Conversations that used to take place on traditional social networks could now be moving towards messaging services instead.
With increasingly user-centric content on mobile messaging apps, users can do whatever they used to do a social network, even sharing with their friends their current mood or frame of mind, albeit in a more closed setting.
All-in-one social experience
This reliance on one’s mobile phone presents the opportunity for an all-in-one social experience, with a personalised mobile ecosystem connecting users with other people, infotainment and goods.
After all, apart from the app being complementary, mobile messaging fans value the overall experience – the speed, convenience, reach, privacy, fun and entertainment – these apps bring.
Recognising this mobile-first trend, traditional retailers are strengthening their e-commerce channels and working with mobile apps as a platform to present a seamless Offline-to-Online (O2O) service.
Online merchants are also not resting on their laurels, with several O2O partnerships having been announced last year where mobile app users can shop or order food online and chat via the same platform.
While 2014 seemed to have been the year where everyone craved to connect via every device, 2015 looks set to be the year where we live, breathe, play, purchase and chat via our mobile phones.
This all-in-one social experience will become the future of social media. Successful content-sharing platforms need to look at providing users with greater entertainment options, meaningful content, strategic O2O partnerships and user-centric interactivity.
In Singapore, where the smartphone has established itself as an integral tool for a smarter, connected citizenry, mobile will continue to be one’s primary gateway to the Internet.
This evolutionary change in our ‘device-of-choice’ will inevitably result in a smarter and connected city that prefers to chat and connect in a mobile-first activity or even a mobile-only reality.
Poshu Yeung is vice president of the International Business Group at Tencent.
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