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As part of my upcoming Ask Me Anything session with Tech In Asia on November 26th, I’m delighted to share the latest snapshot of Digital, Social and Mobile usage around Southeast Asia.
This new report – continuing We Are Social’s on-going series of reports into connected behaviour around the world – shows that digital adoption and usage continues to grow apace around Southeast Asian nations, with internet and social media usage increasing more than 15% year-on-year.
Just before we get into the regional data though, here are the latest global figures:
- Global Internet Users: 3.249 billion
- Global Social Media Users: 2.317 billion
- Global Mobile Users: 3.761 billion
- Global Mobile Social Media Users: 2.062 billion
Read on to get the specific details for Southeast Asia.
The Regional Overview
Digital connectivity in Southeast Asia has leapt over the past few months, with much of this growth attributable to more widespread access to internet-enabled mobile devices.
This mobile connectivity is quickly influencing the shape of the social media landscape too. Publicly available data indicate that Facebook remains the most popular social platform in all countries around the region, but only just; LINE registers almost as many monthly active users as Facebook in Thailand, and Viber is hugely popular in the Philippines.
Internet in Southeast Asia
The number of internet users around Southeast Asia has grown an impressive 12% since March this year, although – as is often the case with internet usage data – this increase may be due to better reporting, rather than an absolute increase of 27 million new users during the same period.
The fact that 40% of the region’s citizens now have access to the internet is cause for celebration though; internet usage in Southeast Asia still lags behind the global average (40% vs. 44%), but it seems that the improved accessibility of smartphones and mobile broadband subscriptions has significantly boosted connectivity across all of the region’s developing nations during the course of 2015.
Social Media in Southeast Asia
The social media landscape in Southeast Asia is becoming increasingly varied and exciting. The publicly available data suggest that Facebook is still the region’s most popular social platform, but other choices – notably chat apps – are capturing a significant share of people’s time and activities.
Facebook now has more than 230 million active users around Southeast Asia, and almost 200 million of these logged in via mobile devices in the past 30 days.
Interestingly, despite media click-bait suggesting that young people are leaving Facebook “in their droves”, the latest data suggest that Facebook remains hugely popular with Millennial audiences. More than 70% of the platform’s users in the region are under 30 years of age, and the network reports that more than 63 million users under the age of 20 used Facebook in the past 30 days.
Facebook continues to grow elsewhere too, registering more than 180 million new users around the world since the start of 2015. For reference, here is the latest list of the world’s most popular social media platforms, ranked by the number of monthly active users:
Although other social media companies are notoriously coy about sharing monthly active user data – especially broken down by country – our analysis suggests that LINE is just a few hundred thousand users behind Facebook in Thailand.
The same data suggest that LINE has a significant user base in Indonesia, although it’s still a long way behind Facebook, which reports 79 million users in the region’s largest country.
Viber is another chat app that’s won the hearts of users around Southeast Asia, most notably in the Philippines. WeChat continues to be popular amongst native Mandarin speakers around the region too, although the lion’s share of Tencent’s hugely popular platform still live in mainland China.
WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger continue to grow around the region too, although Facebook haven’t published any recent monthly active user data by country.
Blackberry Messenger – now available to users of most smartphone operating systems – still has an impressive user base in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia. Anecdotally, Kakaotalk still has a noteworthy base around the region too, but the company’s latest financial reports suggest that usage is now falling.
Our qualitative research indicates that Snapchat has gained a solid following amongst the region’s Millennial users too, although there is insufficient reliable data for us to offer any concrete statistics. Similarly, Telegram and Kik feature in a number of our conversations with local audiences, but there isn’t enough publicly available data to offer an accurate picture of actual usage or penetration by market.
Mobile in Southeast Asia
Although the figures for mobile growth around the region haven’t grown as quickly as the other indicators in this report – mobile subscriptions were up just 4% in the past 8 months – there are already more mobile subscriptions than people around Southeast Asia.
This doesn’t mean that we’ve reached saturation though, and there’s an important distinction between subscriptions (i.e. mobile contracts) and unique users. The latest global figures suggest that just over half the world’s population has a mobile phone of some description, but penetration tends to be lower in developing markets.
The good news is that mobile adoption is accelerating at a staggering pace across Southeast Asia’s less developed markets.
The situation in Myanmar has improved rapidly since 2014, with the number of mobile subscriptions in use in the country doubling from just 15 million in Q4 2014 to more than 30 million today. Current data suggest that people in Myanmar activate a new mobile subscription more than once every minute. What’s more, the use of smartphones amongst the nation’s mobile subscribers is already widespread, suggesting that mobile connectivity – and mobile internet in particular – is likely to accelerate rapidly during 2016.
Individual Country Data
You’ll find individual country data for every nation in Southeast Asia in the second part of the report, including an age and gender breakdown of each country’s Facebook audience.
Digital growth shows no sign of slowing around the region, nor the rest of the world for that matter. The latest global stats show that a quarter of a billion people around the world used the internet for the first time in 2015, whilst more than 300 million people started using social media since January this year.
We’ll be publishing our mammoth Digital, Social & Mobile Worldwide report in early 2016, so if you’d like to get the latest in-depth picture for countries all over the world, be sure to stay tuned to the We Are Social blog. Be sure to check out our historic data too – you’ll find our 2014 and 2015 Global reports on our website, together with our APAC reports from 2014 and 2015 too.
And if you’d like to dig deeper into these numbers and ask me questions about what they mean for communities and companies around the region, be sure to join me for my Tech In Asia ‘Ask Me Anything’ session at 10:30am Singapore time (2:30am GMT) on Thursday 26 November.
It’s been another year of bumper growth for all things digital in India, with the latest in We Are Social’s series of studies into Digital, Social & Mobile usage around the world revealing that over a quarter of the world’s second largest nation now uses the internet on a regular basis:
Here are the key data headlines:
- Internet Users: 350 million, up 44% since our last report in July 2014
- Social Media Users: 134 million, up 26% in the past year
- Unique Mobile Users: 590 million – a penetration rate of 46%
- Mobile Internet Users: 159 million – 45% of all internet users
- Mobile Social Media Users: 97 million, up 5% since July 2014
Read on for our analysis of what these numbers mean in context.
Internet in India
The Internet and Mobile Association of India recently announced that internet users in India now exceed 350 million; a considerable jump since We Are Social’s previous report on digital use in India in July 2014, when the number was just 243 million.
This 44% growth is particularly encouraging, as it takes internet penetration past 25% for the first time. Our sense is that the impressive growth figure may be largely due to more accurate reporting, rather than a sudden surge in new internet users, but it’s clear that increasing mobile internet access has also contributed to an acceleration of internet adoption across the country:
Internet access in India still isn’t evenly distributed though, with rural users accounting for barely 17% of India’s internet community, despite representing more than 70% of the country’s population:
This disparity is changing thanks to mobile, but in contrast to most other developing nations, mobile access still accounts for less than half of India’s internet connections:
The balance will likely tip in the coming months though, with projections from the IAMAI and KPMG indicating that mobile internet will account for nearly two-thirds of all internet connections by 2017.
This shift is clear in terms of share of activity too; more than two-thirds of the web pages served in India in the past month went to desktops or laptops, but that figure is down 6% versus the same period last year:
India’s connection speeds remain disappointingly slow, however, with barely 10% of the country’s fixed-line connections achieving broadband status. The picture is slightly better for mobile users, but India still sits well below the global average reported in Akamai’s most recent State of the Internet report:
Despite these slow speeds – or perhaps because of them – Indian internet users spend more than their global peers using the internet, with the average internet user spending nearly 5 hours online every day.
Social media use accounts for more than half of that time, with social media users spending 26% more time engaging with their networks than watching television:
Social Media in India
Social media use continues to grow in India, but barely 10% of the country is currently ‘socially active':
The number of active users is increasing at a rate of roughly one every second, but even at that rate, it will take another 16 years before half the country’s population is using social media.
We suspect this will change quite considerably in the coming months though, largely due to a shift in behaviour related to mobile usage.
Facebook dominates today’s platform rankings in terms of monthly active users, but it’s worth highlighting that chat apps – and WhatsApp in particular – are already beginning to change the look of the social media landscape:
As mobile-focused internet connections claim a greater share of the overall user-base, we predict that these chat platforms will gain a much more important role in users’ lives – and therefore in marketers’ strategies.
This is where the biggest opportunity lies for internet and mobile companies in India; the company that can claim a disproportionate share of the nation’s burgeoning chat app user-base will be best placed to shape broader consumer behaviour – and revenues – on the internet.
It’s worth noting that non-mobile use of social media accounted for the majority of new users in the past year though, which we found quite surprising. Facebook recorded 28 million new users in India in the past year, but just 5 million of these – 18% – used mobile devices to access the service.
Overall, however, 72% of India’s social media users log in via mobile devices, and we predict that this proportion will increase in the coming months as mobile internet access accelerates further.
It’s also worth noting that the average social media user in India is considerably younger than the global average, with more than half of the platform’s Indian user base aged 23 or younger:
The numbers also show that men account for more than three-quarters of Facebook’s users – something we suspect is true of internet usage as a whole in India. This is something that we believe should be addressed urgently, whether that’s by government bodies or by the corporate world.
Providing women – everyone, for that matter – with better access to digital services has been shown to deliver significant societal benefits, so we believe that marketers should play a disproportionate role in helping to ensure that more women in India can access social and digital services.
In addition to the obvious benefits to the individual – better access to education, financial services and health information – such assistance should also help the marketer, providing a powerful, direct way to reach one of the world’s most untapped audiences.
Mobile in India
As is the case almost everywhere in the world today, mobile use is the big story in India’s digital scene, with 590 million people – almost half the country’s population – now owning a mobile device of some description.
Mobile subscriptions in India stand at 976 million, and with this figure climbing at a rate of roughly 3.5 new subscriptions every second, we fully expect that subscriptions will exceed 1 billion before the end of 2015:
As with internet use, however, mobile use is very unevenly distributed across the country, with considerably less than half of India’s rural population using mobile:
Even for those with a phone, the experience is still far from ideal. Smartphones are still very much in the minority, even when it comes to sales of new handsets:
This ratio has significant importance, as it is closely tied to the adoption of internet services and social media. More than three-quarters of the handsets in use in India today are of the more basic ‘feature phone’ variety, yet smartphones account for five times as much Facebook usage as feature phones do:
E-Commerce in India
Despite some great progress in recent months, e-commerce is still in its infancy in India. The value of online purchases in India totalled just US$12.5 billion in 2014 (INR 81,500 crore) – less than 3% of the value of China’s e-commerce market:
Encouragingly, however, more and more people are using internet-powered services to research products and purchase online, so we expect to see this number explode as mobile internet access, faster connectivity, and increased familiarity with online shopping combine in the coming months.
So what does all this mean for marketers? Here are our three key tips:
- Go Mobile: at least in the short-term, design all internet experiences to work via mobile devices and via relatively slow connections. Online video is definitely rising in popularity, but make sure that downloading it and watching it are even a possibility for your target audience.
- Be The Change: internet and social media access in India are considerably behind the global average, and this impacts marketers’ abilities to reach and engage key audiences. We recommend that brands use some of their marketing budgets to enable more people to access (faster) internet services, whether that’s by subsidising data plans, providing free internet services like internet.org, or by working with government bodies to bring internet access for all a step closer.
- Get Involved In E-Commerce Now: India’s e-commerce market may still be nascent, but now is the time to get involved. There are still many opportunities for brands to gain early mover advantage, and brands that can help e-commerce platforms in their growth stand to forge powerful relationships will stand them in great stead when the e-commerce revolution gathers pace.
Indian marketers looking for more tailored insights may also like to note that I’ll be presenting at the upcoming International Advertising Association Whats Coming Next conference, which takes place in Kochi, India, between September 3rd and 5th. You can find full details here.
If you’d like tailored advice on what these tips mean specifically for your brand, get in touch with our team in one of our 10 offices around the world for more information.
We’d like to offer our special thanks to GlobalWebIndex for allowing us to use their data in this report. We’d also like to thank the Internet and Mobile Association of India, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Ericsson, GSMA Intelligence, StatCounter and Akamai for the public data they share that makes these reports possible. For more details on data sources, please see the full report.
The latest report in our series of studies into Digital, Social & Mobile use around the world shows that the pace of digital adoption in China shows few signs of slowing.
You can read the full report in the SlideShare embed above (or download it here), but numbers don’t mean much on their own, so we’ll use this post to dig into the significance of the data and their associated trends for marketers.
To get us started though, here are the key data headlines:
- Internet Users: 668 million, a 6% year-on-year increase
- Social Media Users: 659 million – more than the USA and Europe combined
- Unique Mobile Users: 675 million, responsible for 1.3 billion mobile subscriptions
- Mobile Internet Users: 594 million, accounting for 89% of all China’s internet users
- Mobile Social Media Users: 574 million, up 15 million since this time last year
The year-on-year growth rates tell interesting stories too (note that the mobile figures in this slide represent the growth in mobile subscriptions, not unique users):
We’ll examine each of these in detail in the sections below.
Internet in China
Roughly 100,000 people in China started using the internet every day over the past year – that’s more than one every second.
Much of this growth is being driven by improved mobile access, with close to 90% of the country’s netizens using mobile devices to access the internet. It’s worth noting that this is often in addition to PC-based usage too, but an increasing number of the country’s internet users are mobile-only, especially in rural areas.
When it comes to the total volume of web traffic, PC-based access still dominates, with 56% of the web pages served to China’s netizens in the past month going to laptop or desktop computers. However, this figure is down 29% year-on-year, while the number of web page requests from mobile devices has jumped 136% to 42%.
These trends suggest that mobile usage will account for more than half of all China’s web activity by early 2016.
Despite mobile’s promise of ubiquitous internet access, however, internet usage still isn’t evenly distributed in China, and a marked difference remains between urban and rural usage rates. Nearly two-thirds of China’s urban population now uses the internet every month, but barely 3 in 10 of China’s rural citizens are online:
The good news is that connection speeds are up considerably on last year, with the average fixed-connection access speed up 17% year-on-year according to Akamai. It’s worth noting that the average mobile connection speed is considerably higher than that of fixed connections though, with the average connection in China now considered ‘broadband’ (i.e. 4Mbps or above).
Social Media in China
The overall number of social media users in China grew more slowly than we expected over the past year, but this is more likely due to a change in behaviour, rather than a waning of interest in social media.
It’s also worth noting that social media usage in China is already at a very high level, with the numbers suggesting that 99% of China’s internet community uses social media of some description.
The numbers for individual platforms tell the more interesting story though. QQ, Tencent’s ever-popular instant messaging service, still claims the country’s top position in terms of monthly active users (MAUs), and despite the vast majority of its users residing in China, it also claims the second-place spot in the worldwide rankings behind Facebook (click here to read more about the global picture).
It’s worth noting that more people sign in to QQ via mobile devices each month than sign in to WeChat, but WeChat offers more varied services and functionality for both users and marketers.
User numbers suggest that QZone still dominates when it comes to traditional ‘social networking’, but WeChat (or Weixin, as it’s know in China) is quickly catching up, and is the platform that most users claim to use on a regular basis (note the difference between ‘use’ and ‘sign in’, the latter being the metric many of the platforms use to measure ‘active’ users).
For those who are still relatively unfamiliar with Chinese social media, Baidu Tieba may be a new discovery. Tieba, or “Post Bar” as the platform calls itself in its English literature, is a community that has grown up around specific areas of user interest related to the searches that people conduct on Baidu, China’s largest search engine.
Meanwhile, readers of our previous China reports (2013, 2014) will notice the absence of Tencent Weibo in this ranking. Tencent stopped publishing monthly active user figures for Tencent Weibo a number of months ago, and we have interpreted this to mean that the company has de-prioritised the platform in favour of its three larger ‘products’, QQ, Qzone and WeChat. Tencent Weibo appears to remain popular with many users though, with 38% of China’s internet users claiming to have used the platform in the past month (see below).
Research from GlobalWebIndex suggests that more than 6 in 10 internet users in China used WeChat in the past month. Sina Weibo comes in second, with 54% of survey respondents claiming to have used the service in the past 30 days.
It’s interesting to note that Facebook, Google+ and Twitter all appear in this list too; they may be officially ‘blocked’ by the Great Firewall, but GlobalWebIndex’s research suggest that a considerable number of China’s netizens are getting round these blocks to access non-Chinese social platforms.
87% of China’s social media users now access via mobile devices at some point each month, with platforms like WeChat helping to drive overall numbers up 77 million over the past 12 months – a year-on-year increase of 15% that equates to more than 200,000 new users every day, or almost 2.5 new users every second.
At 1 hour and 43 minutes per day, social media accounts for just under half of all the time that people spend online in China. The country’s social media users spend 23% longer using social media than they do watching TV each day, although it’s worth noting that much of this time overlaps, with many TV viewers engaging in ‘second-screen’ social media use at the same time.
It’s worth noting that use of tablets appears to be down slightly year-on-year though, with 22% fewer web page requests coming from tablet devices in the past month compared to this time one month ago.
Mobile in China
With 675 million unique subscribers in China, almost half the country’s population now owns a mobile phone, and we fully expect to see the country pass this milestone before the end of 2015.
The number of mobile subscriptions in China rose significantly in 2014 too, with three new subscribers every second contributing to annual growth of 94 million – an 8% year-on-year increase.
The number of mobile subscriptions in China is now very close to the number of people living in the country, which suggest that the average user still maintains close to 2 active connections.
However, we expect that this ratio will reduce over the coming months as more and more people upgrade from feature phones to smartphones; the main reason why individuals operate more than one mobile contract is to benefit from intra-network deals, but data-powered communications such as chat apps and VOIP are more efficient and effective ways of achieving the same benefits.
Smartphones are clearly the must-have devices in China today, accounting for 90% of new handset sales. They already account for just less than two-thirds of all handsets in active use, and we expect their overall share to increase steadily over the coming months as more people renew their devices.
When it comes to internet-powered activities on mobile devices, Chinese netizens appear to be particularly interested in checking the weather.
China’s mobile users also appear to have embraced m-commerce, with reports suggesting that 20% of the country’s population have made a recent online purchase via their mobile device.
E-Commerce in China
E-commerce more generally appears to be thriving in China, with almost one in three internet users buying online each month.
The country’s consumer e-commerce market was worth more than a quarter of a trillion US dollars in the six months to June 2015, with the year’s biggest shopping event – Singles Day – still to come. Sales on Alibaba’s various sites exceeded US$9 billion in just one day last November, and there’s every chance that number will pass $10 billion on 11th November this year.
So what does all this mean for brands? Here are our three key tips, designed specifically for non-Chinese marketers looking to make sense of the world’s largest consumer market:
China’s Different: it’s obvious that the platforms that dominate in China are markedly different to those that marketers are familiar with elsewhere – even those in their Asian neighbours. However, it’s not just the platforms that are different; the ways that Chinese netizens use social channels is also markedly different, and marketers need to carefully adapt their approaches for China’s cultural and societal idiosyncrasies as much as for its technological differences. One size does not fit all when it comes to China, and marketers would do well to engage the expertise of a partner who understands the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’.
1-to-1 Social: The numbers in this year’s report highlight the growing popularity of chat apps – a trend that we’ve seen elsewhere in the world too. The growing popularity of chat apps presents a new set of opportunities for marketers, as many of the conversations that take place on these platforms are more private in nature, taking place between individuals and small groups (versus the public environments that Western marketers will know from Facebook and Twitter). In order to take advantage of the ‘intimate’ nature of these one-to-one conversations, however, marketers will need to explore new approaches to social media and content marketing, ensuring that the tactics they employ make it easy for audiences to find and consume content on one platform (e.g. video-sharing services like Youku or Tudou), and then share that content proactively via chat apps. This will require greater emphasis on highly engaging content and organic sharing, rather than an approach that relies on paid media to push mediocre content to the masses.
Social Selling: China’s netizens are already very comfortable buying things online, whether that’s through their PCs or via their mobile devices. The next big opportunity for marketers is to understand how the dynamics of social referral work in China, and use that to move from social engagement to social conversion.
If you’d like tailored advice on what these tips mean specifically for your brand, get in touch with our team in one of our 10 offices around the world for more information.
We’d like to offer our special thanks to GlobalWebIndex for allowing us to use their data in this report. We’d also like to thank CNNIC, Ericsson, GSMA Intelligence, StatCounter and Akamai for the public data they share that makes these reports possible. For more details on data sources, please see the full report.
Our latest statshot on the state of Digital, Social & Mobile usage around the world shows that the pace of change shows no signs of slowing:
Year-on-year growth remains strong, particularly in the use of mobile social media:
- Internet user growth: +7.6%
- Social media user growth: +8.7%
- Mobile user growth: +3.4%
- Mobile social media user growth: +23.3%
There are some important changes to the ways people are using mobile devices too – read on for the full story.
The latest data suggest that global internet penetration now stands at 43%, up from 41% in August 2014.
The numbers also show that 225 million people around the world used the internet for the first time in the past 12 months, translating to 600,000 new users every day, or 7 every second.
However, we believe that the figures in this month’s report still under-estimate the true number of internet users due to the considerable number of mobile internet users coming online in developing markets.
In addition to the existing 2.9 billion mobile broadband subscribers around the world, Ericsson reports that mobile broadband subscriptions are currently growing at 30% year-on-year, with 50 million new subscribers every month.
Social media usage continues to grow around the world, with global penetration rates now in excess of 30%.
Facebook continues to dominate the global landscape, accounting for almost 1.5 billion users.
The world’s favourite social platform shows little sign of losing its grip either, with 180 million new users joining the community over the past 12 months, up 13.7% year-on-year.
To put that in perspective, Facebook is still adding around half a million new users every day, or almost 6 new users every second.
Other platforms still outperform Facebook in some markets though, notably China, where Facebook access continues to be restricted.
QZone remains the most active social network in China, with an active global user base of 668 million. QZone grew 4% year-on-year according to the latest data from owner Tencent, but this is tempered by growth in Tencent’s real growth engine, WeChat, which added almost as many users as Facebook in the past 12 months (see below for more stats on WeChat).
VKontakte continues to lead in Russia, but the latest data suggest that globally active users on the Russia-based platform are falling slightly each month.
More than half of the world’s population now uses a mobile phone, although reports of the actual number of users varies between sources:
The 3.4% annual growth in the number of unique mobile users around the world misrepresents the story that’s taking place behind the numbers.
The real growth is in the adoption of smartphones, with 2 million devices sold every day around the world.
This shift to ‘smart devices’ means that the consolidation we highlighted in our analysis of our global report back in January continues.
A key reason for this is that data-powered services such as chat and VOIP apps mean people no longer need to maintain multiple handsets in order to benefit from network-specific cheap calls.
The growth in sales of smart devices has resulted in a significant change in global share by type of device, with smartphones now accounting for more than 40% of the world’s active handsets (i.e. handsets connected to an active mobile subscription).
Feature phones still dominate, accounting for 6 out of 10 of the world’s active phones, but with smartphones contributing 75% of all new phones sold in Q1 2015, it’s likely that smartphones will account for more than half of all globally active handsets before the end of the first half of 2016.
Despite the slowing growth in the number of unique mobile users, the steady growth in the number of active mobile subscriptions has continued thanks to the growth in machine-to-machine (M2M) subscriptions associated with ‘the internet of things’.
Data from Ericsson suggest that there are roughly a quarter of a billion M2M subscriptions in use around the world today, accounting for barely 3.3% of the global total (most subscriptions are used to power mobile phones for human-to-human communications).
However, Ericsson’s projections suggest that this share will grow to more than 25% over the next 5 years to almost 8 billion active subscriptions – that’s more than the global total for all types of cellular subscription today.
Mobile Social Media
The number of users accessing social media through mobile devices has exploded in the past 12 months, with 1 million new users accessing via phones or tablets every single day.
This has delivered year-on-year growth of more than 23%, with global penetration now exceeding a quarter of the world’s population.
What’s more, with around 12 new active mobile social users every second, it’s likely that the global total will exceed 2 billion before the end of 2015.
However, it’s worth noting that there are some interesting developments within the mobile social world too, with the growth of mobile-centric ‘chat apps’ overshadowing the growth of more conventional social networks.
WhatsApp is the world’s fastest growing ‘big’ platform (i.e. platforms with more than 100 million active users); the Facebook-owned platform has added more than 300 million new users since August 2014, achieving impressive year-on-year growth of 60%.
Meanwhile, the data suggest that Facebook Messenger may have doubled its user base since this time last year, with active users up 200 million since the start of 2015 alone.
WeChat (Weixin) added roughly 150 million users around the world in the past 12 months too, translating to year-on-year growth of 39%.
It’s worth noting that Viber is also growing at an impressive rate, especially in Southeast Asia, where it is capturing significant share. The Skype-like service already has around a quarter of a billion monthly active users, up 40 million (19%) since the start of 2015.
As we reported in our comprehensive global report back in January, the future of all things digital seems interwoven with the growth of smart mobile devices.
As these devices become an integral part of life all over the world, marketers will increasingly need to understand how people are using these devices, and not just how many are using them.
Smart devices are so much more than just phones; for many people around the world, they are our primary tool for communicating with friends, family and business contacts, for accessing the internet, for watching content such as TV shows and movies, for playing games, and many other activities besides.
As a result, marketers need to stop treating smart devices as merely another channel through which to deliver ad impressions, and start using them to create more of a meaningful impression for their brands.
If you’d like some tips and ideas on how to make that possible, you may like to read these:
Alternatively, if you’re looking for more stats on individual countries, try our in-depth Digital, Social & Mobile reports:
2014 was a landmark year for growth across all things digital, and We Are Social’s new Digital, Social and Mobile in 2015 report indicates that this year will see even more impressive numbers.
Including stats for more than 240 countries around the world, and profiling 30 of the world’s biggest economies in detail, this report is the most comprehensive, free compendium of up-to-date digital statistics and data you’ll find.
So what do its 376 pages reveal?
As we’ve seen in our on-going series of Digital Statshot reports, mobile increasingly dominates the digital world, and we’re confident that ‘ubiquitous connectivity’ will gather even more pace during 2015, as cheaper handsets and more affordable data connections reach further around the world.
What’s more, with mobile-oriented services like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger achieving the top social media ranking spots in some of the world’s biggest economies, it’s clear that much of our digital behaviour is now converging around mobile devices.
Based on the trends within this data, we expect that mobile will help to push internet penetration beyond 50% of the world’s population during mid to late 2016.
Before that, though, we expect to see social media penetration reach one-third of the world’s population – likely by the end of 2015 – with new users in developing nations accounting for almost all of this growth.
In Context: 12 Months of Amazing Growth
The digital world passed some impressive milestones in 2014:
- Worldwide social media users exceeded 2 billion back in August;
- Worldwide penetration of mobile phones passed 50% in September;
- The number of global internet users passed 3 billion in early November;
- The number of active mobile connections surpassed the total world population just last month;
Excitingly, the numbers in our new 2015 report suggest that this growth shows no signs of slowing anytime soon:
You’ll find an amazing wealth of data and infographics designed for easy copy-paste into your own presentations in the SlideShare embed above, but read on for our additional insights into the numbers.
Almost 42% of the world’s population has access to the internet in January 2015, representing a significant jump in reported numbers since last year’s report, when the same figure was just 35%:
Our analysis of these numbers suggests that much of this increase is due to more accurate and timely reporting of data rather than a sudden surge in access, but there is little doubt that many millions of new users accessed the internet for the first time in the past 12 months – many of them via mobile phones.
As we reported in early November, more than 3 billion people around the world now use the internet via a variety of different devices. However, access is not evenly distributed: the reported number of internet users in Bermuda, Bahrain and Iceland almost equals those countries’ total reported populations, but the data also suggest that fewer than 0.1% of the populations of North Korea and South Sudan have access to the internet.
Internet connection speeds vary significantly around the world too, from an average of more than 25 Mbps in South Korea, to barely 2 Mbps in India. Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the USA make up the top 5 fastest nations after South Korea, with each registering speeds in excess of 10 Mbps, putting them well above the global average of 4.5 Mbps:
The average internet user spends around 4 hours and 25 minutes using the net each day, with Southeast Asians registering the highest average daily use. Research conducted by GlobalWebIndex shows that Filipino internet users spend more than 6 hours per day using the net, with Thais, Vietnamese, Indonesians and Malaysians also all averaging more than 5 hours of use per day:
Mobile’s share of global web traffic leapt 39% since the same time last year, with one-third of all web pages now served to mobile phones:
However, mobile’s share of the web also varies considerably around the world: mobile phones account for 89% of all pages served in Papua New Guinea, but barely 0.1% of pages served in some of the smaller Caribbean islands.
It’s worth highlighting that India’s web traffic is dominated by mobile devices, with phones alone accounting for 72% of all web pages served in the world’s second most populous nation:
The good news is that the potential for faster mobile internet access has grown exponentially in the past year, with 39% of all global mobile connections now classified as ‘broadband’ (i.e. 3G or 4G):
Social media continues to grow apace around the world too, with active user accounts now equating to roughly 29% of the world’s population.
Monthly active user (MAU) figures for the most active social network in each country add up to almost 2.08 billion – a 12% increase since January 2014:
Meanwhile, research conducted by GlobalWebIndex suggests that the average social media user spends 2 hours and 25 minutes per day using social networks and microblogs, with Argentinian and Filipino users registering the most, at more than 4 hours per day:
Facebook continues to dominate the global social media landscape, claiming 1.366 billion active users in January 2015. Crucially, 1.133 billion of the platform’s global users – 83% of the total – now access the service through mobile devices.
Meanwhile, Tencent extended its dominance of Chinese-language social networks, with Qzone’s 629 million active accounts leading the pack. However, our analysis indicates that a number of the platform’s users have more than one account, meaning this figure may not be reliable as a basis for the calculation of social media penetration.
VKontakte retains the top social media spot in Russia and a handful of its neighbours, although reliable monthly active user figures are more difficult to come by. The latest data suggest the platform has around 100 million monthly active users, of which roughly two-thirds are in Russia.
As we saw above, mobile usage of social networks like Facebook continues to grow all over the world. Adding up the mobile users of the top social network in each country, we see at least 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts in January 2015:
Meanwhile, instant messenger services and chat apps continue their impressive growth patterns, with WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Viber all reporting more than 100 million new monthly active users over the past 12 months.
Instant messenger services and chat apps now account for 3 of the top 5 global social platforms, and 8 instant messenger brands now claim more than 100 million monthly active users:
As in other areas of this year’s report, much of this growth has been fuelled by the increasing importance of mobile devices in people’s everyday lives, and this trend looks set to accelerate in 2015.
Unique mobile users exceeded 50% of the world’s population in September 2014, and the current year-on-year growth rate of more than 5% suggests we’ll see roughly 200 million new mobile users over the next 12 months.
GSMA Intelligence and Ericsson both report more than 7 billion active mobile subscriptions, but it’s important to note that the average global mobile user still maintains roughly two active connections:
Smartphones account for an increasingly large proportion of mobile use, with Ericsson reporting that these devices claim a 38% share of the world’s active connections:
Almost 4 in 10 global mobile connections now qualify as ‘broadband’ – i.e. a 3G connection or better – but as with so many other aspects of this report, fast mobile data access varies hugely from one country to the next:
Reports suggest that all of North Korea’s 2.8 million mobile connections are 3G or above, although this is tempered by the fact that the internet – or at least the internet as we know it in the rest of the world – is not available to the country’s average citizen. However, at 11% penetration – 65% up on the same period last year – the role of mobile in North Korea may be cause for optimism.
As with fixed internet access, South Korea is streets ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to mobile internet speeds, with the country’s mobile operators delivering an average connection of 18.2 Mbps – twice as much as any other nation.
Singapore and the UK follow, with 9.1 Mbps and 8.1 Mbps respectively. India, Brazil, Argentina all registered average mobile data connections below 2 Mbps, while Vietnam registered the slowest average mobile data connection in this years report, at barely 1.1 Mbps:
Despite these slow speeds, data reported by Ericsson in its latest Mobility Report suggest that the average global mobile connection uses around 900MB of data every month, with total monthly global data traffic rapidly approaching 3 exabytes – i.e. 3 billion gigabytes:
However, more than three-quarters of the world’s mobile connections are still pre-paid, and the costs of acquiring a phone and maintaining an active mobile connection continue to represent a significant proportion of household expenditure in many developing nations.
As a result, content producers and marketers must balance their desire to provide ‘rich’ user experiences such as online video with the likely costs that this will entail for their audiences:
What’s more, 58% of the world’s mobile connections still come from more basic, ‘feature’ phone handsets, meaning many people will be unable to access such content even if they’d like to.
At the other end of the mobile spectrum, the use of tablets increased steadily during 2014, with 7% of all web pages served in the past month going to these devices.
Combined, mobile phones and tablets now account for 38% of all web pages served around the world.
Mirroring this trend, laptops and desktops saw a 13% decline in share of web traffic compared to the same period last year, down to 62% of all web pages served:
Thanks to some great data from GlobalWebIndex, we’re delighted to include some detailed data points relating to online shopping for most of the countries in this year’s report.
The United Kingdom leads in terms of active e-commerce use, with data suggesting that almost two-thirds of the country’s population bought something online in the past month
Germany and South Korea follow close behind at 63% and 62% respectively, while the USA comes in fourth at 56%
South and Southeast Asia lag when it comes to e-commerce though, with data suggesting barely 14% of Indians bought something online in the past month. Similarly, fewer than 1 in 5 Thais and Filipinos used e-commerce in the past 30 days:
Mobile commerce is picking up momentum around the world though though, especially in East Asia, with data suggesting that 37% of South Koreans bought something online via a mobile phone in the past month.
The Chinese are also increasingly active mobile shoppers, with 27% of the population buying something through their phones in the past 30 days:
Local Country Profiles
You’ll also find in-depth profiles of 30 of the world’s largest economies in the report, in the same format as the China slides you’ll find at the bottom of this post.
Here’s a list of the countries we cover in detail:
So What Next?
If you’d like to explore the individual country data in more detail, you might like to know you can download the complete report for free by clicking here.
We’ll leave you with the country slides for China: