Digital age: Internet users ready to ‘mobile’ it up

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 9:00:36 by



KARACHI: 

As the Pakistan online community makes a gradual transition to mobile devices, portable internet will overtake the desktop version in 2014, revealed Google Inc. in its first consumer survey of the country’s internet users on Tuesday.

The survey, which gathered information from over a 1,000 random internet users from all over Pakistan, also showed that, on average, a little over two hours a day are spent online in the country.

Google Inc. Asia Pacific Manager for Asian Growth Markets Tania Aidrus said that the company believed that mobile internet would overtake desktop since ‘people are embracing smartphones and tablets’.

“We think 2014 is the year mobile internet overtakes desktop internet in Pakistan,” said Aidrus, while disclosing the findings of a consumer survey titled, ‘Pakistan Digital Consumer Study’. “Consumers are really starting to embrace these devices.”

International Data Corporation (IDC), a global research, analysis and advisory firm specialising in information communications technology, conducted the study earlier this quarter on behalf of Google. The survey was an attempt to look at the life of the connected Pakistani consumer, according to officials.

This is the first consumer survey of Pakistan’s internet users by the Silicon Valley-based internet giant and indicates the company’s growing interest in the market.

There are over 2 billion internet users in the world, while 5 billion new ones are expected to come from emerging markets like Pakistan, according to Google.

Situation in Pakistan

Mobile devices, according to the study, are gaining momentum in the country. While 86% respondents said they use desktop computers to access the internet; 77% use smartphones, 73% use feature phones and 59% use tablets as the survey indicated more than one source.

Pakistanis, on average, spend 2.25 hours a day on internet during weekdays and 3 hours a day on weekends, the study found. The top three online activities in the country – both on desktop and mobile internet – were found to be ‘social media, email and general search’.

Aidrus said the number of mobile internet users was growing. “It is, and that too, without any high-speed portable internet service. Imagine what will happen after third-generation (3G) mobile service is launched.”

This trend, the internet giant said, follows a decline in the prices of smartphones and tablets, and the anticipated launch of 3G services.

Internet-capable feature phones are expected to continue to play an important role as well, it added.

A negative factor also promoting the trend of mobile internet is the unreliability of uninterrupted electricity supply, which is also helping to promote the usage of tablets and smartphones in Pakistan.

Pakistani digital consumers, the survey finds, are engaging more with internet than ever before — of those surveyed, 70% spend time daily on the internet while 60% say it is also where they liked to spend most of their personal time. Watching TV (41%) and reading the newspaper (24%) combined ranked lower than the internet, it said.

Online banking, researching financial services and investment and bill payments were found to be some of the popular trends on smartphones, which point to a future where digitally-literate Pakistanis make the web useful for them, according to Google.

The single largest challenge facing internet users, the survey finds, is the quality or reliability of connectivity – including poor speed or bandwidth availability, perceived value-for-money, customer service quality and frequency of service interruptions.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2013.

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