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

Published: December 4, 2013
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77% of the respondents use smartphones, according to a survey conducted by Google Inc. PHOTO: FILE

77% of the respondents use smartphones, according to a survey conducted by Google Inc. PHOTO: FILE

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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Reader Comments (5)

  • Sana
    Dec 4, 2013 - 9:55AM

    Mobile devices are indeed the future , Our parents who couldnt use desktops are now going online on mobile phones and these local mobile manufactures are doing a great job by introducing low cost smartphones in the market .
    http://goo.gl/0b8vfM

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  • Crazy Canuck
    Dec 4, 2013 - 11:38AM

    Nice! I’m sure the wise guys cant wait to get their hands on everyone’s shiny new “touch” phones. A spike in phone theft? You better believe it!

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  • Atif
    Dec 4, 2013 - 12:12PM

    The mobile internet bandwidth and speed is a big question. Major mobile applications are not working smoothly on our mobile internet.

    May be one should consider portable wifi (ptcl) devices.

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  • Pakistani
    Dec 4, 2013 - 1:21PM

    Govt should go for 4G…this will enhance the internet bandwidth

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  • Dec 5, 2013 - 3:34PM

    Sorry but I don’t see this happening till we get to 3G.

    GPRS is way too slow, unreliable and chokes at peak hours. Another thing that PTA needs to do is to make sure SLA’s are agreed to. Every ISP in Pakistan hides behind ‘we are giving you shared connection and can’t guarantee bandwidth’ – what the eff! – there should be some minimal level of guaranteed service.

    Commuters using the motorway between Lahore-Islamabad experience the long stretches where GPRS is so slow that you can’t even get e-mail let alone browse hi-fidelity internet portals. Once 3G arrives, yes it will sharply tilt towards mobile. However, also note that less than 5% of users in Pakistan have smart phones. That probably will change too when there is 3G and people can access richer content creating a demand stimulus for smart phones. 2014 will be interesting.

    I hope the 3G auction goes through by March of next year as ‘promised’ by PTA chairman. If it happens we will begin to see 3G speeds by 2nd half of 2014 once Telco’s had a quarter to roll out the service.

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