Friday, February 7, 2014

Southeast Asia's Most Promising Large Internet Markets

By Israel, a writer and online promoter for Money Hero, the leading financial comparison guide based in Hong Kong.

Asia has always been a fast-growing region in terms, economically, and Southeast Asia in particular is always a region that tends to pick up business trends and practices rather quickly (at least in specific) countries. This is especially true when it comes to Internet penetration, for which Southeast Asia is a continually growing statistic. The Internet market in Southeast Asia can be assessed in two different ways: by the actual number of Internet users per country, and the percentage of people who signed up for broadband plans over the last year. By looking at these numbers, one can only assume that penetrating the Southeast Asian population is going to be a very promising venture.

Actual Number of Internet Users

The way social media has been ingrained in everyone’s daily lives has been nothing short of astounding. With added dependence on social networking as a source of information and a method of communication, the number of Internet users in the region is nothing short of impressive.

Topping the list of countries in Southeast Asia with the most Internet users is Indonesia, with 74,600,00 users. Indonesia leads all other Southeast Asian countries by more than 50%. Coming in at a distant second is the Philippines with 34,810,000 Internet users. Creeping up behind the Philippines is Vietnam with 32,400,000 users.

The distance between the lowest of the top three countries with the most Internet users to the next on the list is great. Malaysia rings in with 20,100,000 Internet users. Closely behind is the 17,690,000 Internet users hailing from Thailand. There is another leap in these numbers as Singapore trails behind with 9,132,000 Internet users, and then a further leap would show Cambodia with 2,500,000 Internet users.

The other countries in the region have yet to break the million Internet users ceiling with Laos (700,000), Myanmar (630,000), Brunei (230,000) and East Timor (26,000). Keep in mind, of course, that these are relatively smaller areas with smaller populations.

Internet Penetration Figures for 2013

With many Internet providers offering the best broadband plans with the best deals over the past few years, it’s not hard to expect growth in the market. In Southeast Asia, this growth is especially impressive.

Singapore leads the pack with 104.2% growth over in 2013. This means that the country has more than doubled their Internet penetration. Like Indonesia’s lead in the actual numbers of Internet users, Singapore’s lead is distant, with Malaysia registering a 67% penetration and Brunei, with 56% penetration.

Areas that did all right in 2013 are the Philippines (36%), Vietnam (also 36%), Indonesia (29.8%), and Thailand (26.4%). The rest of the region has shown modest growth with Cambodia and Laos getting 16% and 10% respectively. There are a couple of cases of very small penetration, with East Timor only having a 0.2% penetration and Myanmar with 1%.

What the Numbers Mean

Given these numbers, it’s easy to pinpoint which markets are likely to experience growth. Singapore’s exponential growth can lead into more, provided the penetration is done properly, but the potential can arguably be seen in the countries that showed less impressive numbers. Countries like East Timor only has one fourth of its population penetrated by Internet usage. The possibility of increasing that number is high, considering the size of the untapped market there. Same is true for the rest of the less performing countries. Countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia are all on a steady rise, and penetrating those markets seems to be a wise course of action.

All in all, Southeast Asia’s online presence continues to grow, and one can only speculate how much more in terms of growth will be experienced throughout this year.

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