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2 Billion Mobile Subscribers across Asia!!! Now what??

August 20, 2010

NOTE: This is a mirror of a blog post I original wrote for Campaign Asia.

Every client meeting, every conference and every colleague debate I’m involved in has the mobile marketing opportunity across Asia as a central theme (ok – I’m a bit sad like that!).

However, I finally got a chance to go through the always-excellent and recently-released Asia Digital Marketing Association 2010 Yearbook (freely available here – Neilsen Asia social media report also worth a read) and among the array of big numbers that jumped out, three in particular struck me:

  1. There are now over 2 billion mobile subscribers in Asia Pacific, with the expectation that this will grow to over 2.5 billion by 2013, an increase of 25%. I still remember the celebration that was crossing the 1 billion threshold for PCs in 2008… seems like small change now…
  2. Around 30% of the global market for smartphones is in AP, with Asian (ex-Japan) smartphone users expected to number 347 million by 2015. This despite the fact that only 6% of mobile users in Southeast Asia subscribe to 3G and that 3G is still in its infancy in China.
  3. The mobile phone is becoming (I believe has already become) the favoured device for young Asians to connect to social networking sites, with more than 50% of Chinese, Indian, South Korean and Thai mobile users preferring to use their handsets over their PCs. All you have to do is walk the streets of any Asian city to know that this is a trend that will accelerate fast.

When I presented at the Mobile Marketing Association Forum (MMAF) Asia in April and at a mobile marketing conference last week, the convergence of real-time social media, mobile broadband and smartphone usage was clear to all. Everybody was also violently in agreement about the importance of themes like: “putting the consumer at the centre of social media,” the “higher interaction of consumers via mobile handsets versus desktop” and the need to “move from content campaigns to deep engagement.” In fact, I don’t think I’d heard the words “deep engagement” used so often at an event – the overall buzz-wordiness was jarring…

What was hardly touched on at all was the strategies and practical tips for brands/agencies to actually roll their sleeves up and get involved with mobile internet users via social media. Six of the top 10 mobile internet sites accessed from most Asian countries and two of the top five applications downloaded are to access social media. It felt like words such as content and application were being used as ways for brands to keep the consumer at arms length, while still “doing social media.”

However, during the networking opps one theme was clear – the incredible spread of Facebook, Twitter and the mobile internet has left communicators and marketers no choice but to get engaged – I mean really engaged. However, it’s still slow going.  I just hope it doesn’t require us to get to 4 billion subscribers in order to get it right.

What do you think – has the boom of the mobile internet and social media in the past 12 months made online engagement inevitability, or are we still miles away?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2010 11:40 AM

    Facebook on the web is great for brands with applications and pages, however the mobile Facebook doesn’t seem to offer much for brands at the moment.

    I assume we’ll see a change in the future where Facebook begins to tap this market. In the meantime the two are not united.

  2. johnkerrnz permalink*
    August 25, 2010 12:26 PM

    Thanks for stopping by Marshall and your comment!

    Your point is interesting, but is not my experience. On some brand FB pages we oversee, up to a third of the visitors are via mobile in some markets (esp. Indonesia). Demonstrates to me that even without apps and rich content, people are still connected to the interaction (posts and comments) and community (people) that are hanging out there – even if it’s a bit of a pain to access it.

    It’s too easy to forget that social networks are first, foremost and all about people connecting with other people – if conversation isn’t going to drive mobile social media adoption, then I’m not sure what else will?

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