Late last week, the Pew Research Center released the results of multiple country surveys about mobile technology adoption and internet usage. The countries in focus were 24 “emerging markets,” including Russia, China, Pakistan, Philippines, various South American markets, Turkey and South Africa among others.
The associated report has a lot of statistics about user behavior, demographic variables (e.g., education, income) and online activities. For example, the following chart shows mobile phone ownership and top activities across all the countries in the report.
Mobile phone ownership is nearly ubiquitous in the markets studied. However smartphone penetration is well below 50 percent of mobile users in all but Lebanon (45 percent), Chile (39 percent), Jordan (39 percent) and China (37 percent). China is the world’s largest internet and mobile market. Yet 63 percent of mobile users today don’t have smartphones.
There’s also a great deal of discussion about social networking and the motivations of users in the report. A majority of respondents surveyed use social networking sites in the 24 emerging markets. However, as the chart below indicates, their activities and motivations vary considerably.
Perhaps the most important statement in the report is, “most people in the 24 nations surveyed are still offline.” The countries with the highest internet penetration among the group surveyed are Russia and Argentina (at 65 percent). The country with the lowest penetration is Pakistan (7 percent).
Combine these data with the fact that most mobile phone owners in these markets don’t have smartphones, and the inescapable conclusion is that the future of internet access is going to be primarily mobile (including tablets). Moreover, because of their distribution and cost advantages, the future looks very bright for Android devices.