Claudio Murri, Asia advisor to EIF, reports on internet usage in Asia-Pacific

13 June 2014 Author: Claudio Murri, Asia Advisor to EIF

Research firm eMarketer has released a report on internet usage in Asia-Pacific (APAC), stating that the region will boast over 1.33 billion Internet users this year, the largest online population of any region in the world.

Obviously, the sheer size of Asia-Pacific plays a big role in its large share of the online population pie. However, there still is a clear split between developed Internet economies, such as South Korea, Japan and Australia, and less developed, but growing, markets like Indonesia and India. Internet usage rates span a broad range, from as low as 17.4 per cent of India's population this year, to nearly eight in 10 in South Korea. In fact, South Korea accounted for the highest 78.9 per cent of the Internet penetration in Asia Pacific followed by Japan (77.3 per cent), Australia (76 per cent), China (48.5 per cent) and Indonesia (33 per cent).

India, which accounts for the third largest online user base globally after China and the US, has had the lowest Internet penetration at 17.4 per cent so far this year. However, it led Asia Pacific nations in user growth at 28.9 per cent followed by Indonesia (14.9 per cent), and leaving behind other major markets such as China (6 per cent), Australia (1.7 per cent), Japan (0.8 per cent) and South Korea (0.7 per cent). 

Unsurprisingly, commented the report, it's these less mature markets that are growing their web populations more quickly, both because of their relatively smaller bases and the basic fact that saturation is far off in these countries. Double-digit growth rates in India's Internet population are expected throughout the 2012 – 2018 period, while Indonesia will also post increases of 10 per cent or higher through 2016.

By contrast, the research firm expects online populations of South Korea and Japan to stagnate over the same period. Industry body IAMAI (Internet And Mobile Association of India) expects India's Internet user base to touch 243 million by this month, projecting a year-on-year growth of 28 per cent.

China falls somewhere in the middle: Already, nearly half of the country’s population is online, and growth rates are much lower than in India and Indonesia. And the overall size of China means that even with a middling internet penetration rate, the country will account for just shy of half of Asia-Pacific’s total number of internet users this year. Its share of the total in the region will fall throughout the forecast period as India picks up more than 4 percentage points between 2014 and 2018 and Indonesia boosts its slice of the total slightly over the same period.

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