Mobile phones are most important piece of technology for Asians, says expert

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 2:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 4:26pm


Mobile phones are the most important item of technology for people living in the Asia-Pacific region as more of them gain access to cheaper smartphones, an expert told a conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

“Mobile usage has to do with growth in access, not attitudes,” explained researcher Joseph Webb of the consultancy group TNS, at the Social Media Matters conference. The event featured speakers from the world’s most popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Cheaper smartphones and data plans and a growing mobile “ecosystem” have turned mobile phones into an indispensable piece of technology for residents of the Asia-Pacific area, he added. 

This trend has implications for how businesses engage with their customers in Asia, where mobile usage is more prevalent than in developed countries in the west. Adapting a strategy for the mobile world is necessary and, because the Asia-Pacific region is pioneering mobile innovation, companies need to localise their strategies for Asian markets, Webb suggested.

Mobile platforms also provide opportunities for companies to advertise, but they are underused, while print mediums are overused, noted Shintaro Tabata, executive officer of Japanese messaging app LINE, at the conference.

Their suggestions that businesses should step up their mobile strategies in Asia are in line with recent surveys that confirm the expanding mobile sector in the region.

About half of the world’s mobile connections are in the Asia Pacific, with about 1.6 billion unique subscribers, and by 2020 the mobile ecosystem could account for almost 8 per cent of total gross domestic product in the region, revealed the latest report by the GSM Association (GSMA), a group of mobile operators.

“Mobile is already a significant engine for growth and welfare improvement throughout the Asia-Pacific region,” said Anne Bouverot, the director general of GSMA. “Now there is a clear opportunity for mobile to further transform lives, create new businesses and drive additional economic growth.”