The unstoppable momentum of smartphones is almost single-handedly driving the phenomenal growth in the number of new internet users globally. What’s more, the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is responsible for the lion’s share of that growth, according to the latest Mobile Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) Report.
The report, based on the global analysis of 1.7 trillion visits to more than 16,000 websites between January 2014 and January 2017, found that smartphones were the source of 500 million new internet users globally. India and China delivered a staggering 366.3 million new consumers – 268.9 million and 97.4 million respectively, while Indonesia accounted for 15.7 million new internet visitors.
Nearly all the growth in traffic to the internet can be attributed to smartphones, according to senior ADI analyst Trevor Jones. “Desktop and tablet traffic is stagnant or shrinking in the vast majority of APAC countries,” he says.
Smartphone traffic in India has increased by 290 per cent since 2014, while desktop traffic is down 6 per cent, while tablet traffic is steady at 3 per cent growth.
Jones flags China, India, Malaysia and New Zealand as the countries to watch for big growth in smartphone penetration. “These countries are not showing any signs of slowing down over the course of 2017,” he says.
Millions more smartphone users coming online
While mobile growth in China has been relatively slow, Jones observes that “each percentage point brings millions more smartphone users to the internet”. The ADI Report forecasts share of smartphone internet traffic in China to reach 37 per cent by 2018, up from 18 per cent in 2014.
India, which already has a high share of internet smartphone traffic, shows no sign of slowing growth. ADI forecasts a 46 per cent smartphone share by 2018, up from 18 per cent in 2014.
Malaysia and New Zealand have historically lagged their APAC counterparts, but both countries are poised to break 40 per cent smartphone penetration by 2018.
The global high points for smartphone penetration are in Japan, Mexico and Chile, with each country achieving at least 46 per cent of internet traffic from smartphones.
Mobile app usage surges in India
When it comes to app installation growth, India leads the pack with a 49 per cent increase since 2014, in contrast to most countries that have experienced a decrease in the use of apps.
“The huge adoption rates of smartphones in developing countries are helping keep app usage steady for now, but countries like the US and UK have seen app installation declines of -9 per cent and -38 per cent respectively since 2014,” Jones says. “These trends are likely a precursor of what will occur in other countries.”
As Asia moves away from the tablet in favour of cheaper and more convenient smartphones, Jones believes their increased adoption presents its own challenges for marketers.
“Smartphones are allowing millions of people to access the internet that otherwise might never have had the opportunity. Developing countries have latched on to smartphones and have caught up and outpaced many affluent countries around the world,” Jones says.
“APAC marketers need to understand that many consumers might never even use a desktop or a tablet and that the smartphone experience needs to be smooth enough to keep people satisfied and engaged.”
China and India offer the biggest opportunities
The Mobile ADI Report provides the most comprehensive roadmap of mobile internet traffic in the world today and Jones has no doubt that most roads lead to India and China.
“The biggest opportunities lie in India and China, both of which are experiencing huge growth, yet large amounts of their population remain untouched,” he says.
“Every percentage change in share of traffic or traffic growth has a much bigger impact in these countries. India and China still have millions of people that have yet to access the internet, there-fore they are the markets where growth will be the easiest to attain.”