For those that can afford it, the iPhone is still considered “the device to have” in Asia, but Samsung Galaxy S III/IV has made major inroads. Galaxy has dominant market share in S. Korea for obvious reasons, but is also rated the hottest phone in Singapore. Being Android based, the Galaxy phone is half the price of the iPhone, and the iPhone 5 was a bit of a yawner for non-Apple junkies. But for those that appreciate not only the cache of the Apple brand but who also seek simplicity in managing a notebook, smart phone, tablet, and desktop with a single OS platform synchronized via iCloud, it is difficult to leave Apple iOS. The Galaxy IV is considered to be the new king of mobile video given the screen size but still has a slight gender imbalance, appealing to men over women while its sister, the Galaxy Note, seems to appeal to women more often as it rests nicely in a bag whereas men like the convenience of shirt pocket storage. Android also offers more flexibility and customization for screen real-estate and simultaneous apps support, so it will likely continue to make inroads against Apple.
2. What are the most currently popular apps (use of broadband) and the hottest trending new apps in your region?
Chat apps rule! Asian chat apps are especially popular with WeChat in China having 400M subscribers; Line in Japan at 150M; and Kakao in Korea with 80M. China used to boast of having 1B SMS per day on a holiday like Chinese New Year – can you believe that? Per day! A lot of that has been given to the OTT chat apps. Why? The Asian market loves the emoticons and cartoon nature of the communication character style. These chat apps are now moving out of the Asia region into other parts of the globe. By the way, many of these apps are multi-OS compatible which further exacerbates the service provider SMS revenue challenge i.e. an iPhone user can text to an Android user via an OTT chat app whereas previously SMS was the only sure way to reach others. Some of these are also offering video, gaming and purchases as well, so move over Facebook.
3. How are these devices, apps and consumer behavior impacting broadband usage and therefore decision making among network operators in your region?
According to a Q1 2013 report by GfK findings, sales volume of smartphones in Southeast Asia alone translated to a year-over-year escalation in demand of 61%, and Flurry predicted that China would surpass the U.S. in total installed base of smart devices (iOS and Android) by the end of Q1 2013. With no end in sight to the growth of smart devices in Asia moving forward, service providers here face similar problems to those around the world—mainly, how to satisfy growing bandwidth demand while learning to monetize OTT broadband consumption whether it is from video, audio, text or a new cadre of wildly popular apps. The pie chart above shows that only 4% of total messaging revenues in ’16 will be derived from OTT messages, leaving plenty of room for monetization growth. In the bar graph below, South Korea and Japan make up 2 of the top 3 markets where carriers are most likely to see revenue losses from OTT Messaging, with Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand rounding out the list. If service providers are going to be losing SMS or any other revenue to OTT apps then they must learn which customers are using these apps, when, where and how. Only then can they structure subscriptions with the kinds of top-up services that will appeal to both new and existing customers, thereby enabling them to continue feeding the always-hungry demand for growing bandwidth infrastructure.