From basic texting between friends to more complex online shopping transactions, smartphones are already central to daily life in many countries. Now it seems the mobile internet revolution has hit the emerging markets.
In fact, countries from Indonesia to Nigeria have been named as the next frontiers in smartphone usage. The annual State of the Internet report, released last week, is just the latest internet usage study to highlight the growth potential for mobile in these emerging markets. Let’s take a look at a breakdown by region.
The report, from Mary Meeker of venture capital firm KPCB, reveals the extent to which smartphone usage is increasing worldwide. Globally, mobile data consumption has soared a staggering 81 percent – as people increasingly use smartphones and tablets to access the internet, particularly to watch video.
In emerging markets, the trend is even more pronounced. In both Asia and Africa, mobile usage now represents more than 35 percent of total internet usage, representing a significant increase on both continents over the last year. For many people in these countries, the first time they access the internet will not be on a desktop PC – it will be on a mobile device.
What is driving this growth?
Smartphones have become increasingly popular in emerging countries as the cost of the devices has dropped, making mobile internet more accessible to the average consumer. At the same time, network infrastructure in these markets has improved and 3G services have been gradually rolled out, particularly in countries like Pakistan.
It comes as no surprise then that global smartphone shipments are expected to hit 1.2 billion this year, with the growth in demand largely driven by emerging countries, according to a recent report from IDC. The Asia Pacific region, in particular, has been singled out as a key driver of global growth in new mobile connections.
As the way we access the internet changes, so does our online behavior. The growth in mobile internet usage has driven up demand for e-commerce platforms. For the first time in 2014, the Asia Pacific region is forecast to spend more on e-commerce purchases than consumers in North America, with the growth led by China, India, and Indonesia.
Expect to see this trend continue as the mobile revolution deepens in the emerging markets.