2013 is the year of IM: Ericsson ConsumerLab

  • Consumer use of IM jumped from 48% in 2012 to 82% in 2013; still third most popular use after SMS and browsing
  • Malaysia smartphone penetration up 47% in 2012 to 63% in 2013; 17% more said will buy one in next 6mths

2013 is the year of IM: Ericsson ConsumerLabMALAYSIAN usage of instant messaging (IM) apps via smartphones has almost doubled in the last 12 months, according to a recently concluded analysis by Ericsson ConsumerLab of South-East Asia and Oceania.
A June 2013 Mobility Report issued by the company revealed that consumer usage of IM jumped from 48% in 2012 to 82% in 2013 among those surveyed.
“We saw 2012 as being the year of social networks, and predict this year to be the year of IM,” said Afrizal Abdul Rahim, head of ConsumerLab South East Asia & Oceania.
According to Afrizal, in addition to the increasing affordability of smartphones, smaller data package offers from operators targeted at such apps also played a role in the jump.
In addition, messaging brands such as WeChat, Kakao Talk and LINE have been aggressively promoting their apps in the market.
“This year, the focus from consumers is on personal networks and growth rather than large social networking sites,” Afrizal told a recent media briefing in Kuala Lumpur.
Despite the jump, IM only ranked third in the list of most used functions for smartphone users in the country, with SMS (97%) and browsing the Internet (84%) coming in first and second respectively.
Research firm Ovum previously reported that SMS growth rates fell from 14% in 2011 to 8% in 2013, and SMS revenues have fallen since the emergence of social messaging.
Ovum also forecast that social messaging apps will cost operators US$32.6 billion in 2013, growing to over US$86 billion in 2020, with the pace picking up this year.
Neha Dharia, consumer analyst at Ovum, said that after 2013, mobile broadband revenues will form the bulk of operators’ non-voice revenues (contributing 43% of revenues in 2014) and will outpace revenues from SMS, with messaging forming a smaller proportion of data revenues (40% in 2014).

2013 is the year of IM: Ericsson ConsumerLab 
When asked why SMS usage remains so high, Afrizal said that it had more to do with the way voice and data packages were structured and bundled by telco operators.
“Usage continues to grow as consumers want to use up their allocated quota under their subscription, but the resulting revenue from SMS would differ because of how it is bundled,” he said.
Afrizal said that the statistics garnered by the survey was based on percentage of use at least once a week, and pointed out the fact that not everyone uses mobile apps regularly.
“A lot of Malaysian consumers haven’t embraced mobile apps yet. Because the survey is also based on usage of at least once a week, when compared to the usage jump for IM and Internet surfing, you can infer that there is a shift toward substitution or replacement,” he added.
The survey also highlighted that among daily Internet users, Malaysia smartphone penetration has increased from 47% in 2012 to 63% in 2013, a jump of 16 points.
According to Ericsson, an additional 17% of the respondents surveyed indicated that they would buy a smartphone in the next six months.
“The key drivers [for purchasing] a smartphone are to connect to the Internet and to be in touch. People’s aspiration to upgrade their current phone and own a smartphone is another key driver,” said Afrizal.
Another noticeable change is the jump in apps usage from 54% in 2012 to 76% in 2013 among Malaysian daily Internet users.
According to Afrizal, word-of-mouth and curiosity to try out a new app are the main factors that drive a user to download them. App users are also motivated by an app’s functionality as well as the ability to communicate.
In addition, tablet penetration in the country has increased almost three-fold from 14% in 2012 to 39% in 2013. Similar to smartphone adoption, Internet connectivity is an important driver for tablet purchase.

2013 is the year of IM: Ericsson ConsumerLab
The convenience of using a tablet, because of its size, over a computer or smartphone is also a key driver for tablet purchase.
From a usage perspective, tablets are nocturnal devices. The survey showed that the devices are mostly used at night at home (70%), followed by the tablet being used as time fillers (58%) and as companions during holidays (52%).
Ericsson ConsumerLab undertook analysis of an online panel study of 500 Malaysian residents aged 16-60 who are daily Internet users. This was part of a survey of 43 countries, covering a total of 38,000 people carried out by TNS.
To view the geographical breakdown of Malaysian survey respondents, click here.

To read the Ericsson June 2013 Mobility Report [PDF] in full, click here.

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