Malaysia’s Youth Are Overall Digital Frontrunners, Mobile Apps Are Important Communication Service

Malaysians consider mobile apps to be the most important communication service available to them on a mobile phone, with high usage of internet communications, revealed Telenor Group in its Digital Frontrunners Study 2016.

In the Telenor Research study conducted in November-December 2015, mobile users aged 16-35 years in Telenor Group’s markets in Asia and Europe were interviewed about their mobile communication habits. The interviewees, identified as “digital frontrunners”, were from Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Norway, Sweden, Serbia, and Hungary. The way this group use internet on their mobiles gives good indications on the future developments of communications services and how the wider demographic in the respective countries will adopt mobile internet in the years ahead.

Compared to previous surveys of digital frontrunners, Telenor observes a general trend towards increased use of internet based communication on mobiles. However, the survey shows that the preferences differ from market to market. Traditional telco services like voice calls and SMS are still an important part of the communication habits in most of the surveyed countries.

Thailand and Malaysia are the most digital of Telenor’s surveyed markets; Malaysians stand out as the most eager users of messaging apps, with the vast majority (62%) ranking them as the most important communication tool. More than 80% of the Malaysian frontrunners use messaging apps on a daily basis compared to 49% for SMS. Looking back to the same survey in 2012, the numbers were reverse. This strong position of messaging apps today is mainly due to the success of WhatsApp amongst Malaysian frontrunners. In Thailand, Internet voice calling (32%) is a close competitor to ordinary mobile calls (35%) as the “most important” communication tool.

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Messaging apps are the preferred internet communication service for being in touch with others, with 80% of those surveyed using it on a daily basis. For one-to-one communications on mobiles via the internet, Malaysians prefer WhatsApp, with only 3% of respondents who said they use it less than once a month. WhatsApp is also the preferred platform in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Thais opt for LINE, Serbians use Viber while Swedes prefer email. Overall, Facebook remained uniformly strong across all the surveyed countries in addition to their cited top preferences.

Telenor Group said that Malaysians are leaders of internet communication within its global footprint when compared with young internet users of other nations, and are influential in the daily use of mobile devices for a wide range of internet activities, from browsing to playing online games.

Second to messaging apps, Malaysians use daily to several times per day traditional mobile voice (56%) and SMS services (49%) on their phones, followed by newer internet voice communications (34%) and video calls (28%).

Although 49% of Malaysians surveyed often use SMS services on their phones, the usage has declined from 88% in 2012 to 73% in 2014 and 49% in 2015. Daily social media posting among Malaysian respondents also declined from 58% in 2014 to 42% in 2015.

Overall, Asia leads in adoption of new mobile internet services, underscored by Malaysian respondents who cited some of the highest percentage of weekly usage across the surveyed markets in map services (50%) and playing games (68%).

Source: Telenor Group