Earlier this month, comScore released data essentially confirming the perception that Japan is well ahead of the U.S. and Europe when it comes to using more advanced mobile technologies. Wireless subscribers in Japan were the most connected, with three-quarters of them Web browsing, using apps and downloading content on cell phones. (The U.S was more active in certain areas, including mobile social networking.)
A first-hand, if more anecdotal, account offered by customer experience expert Mark Hurst on mobile use throughout Asia including Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Singapore, serves to confirm the technology's ubiquity through the entire region.
"Everyone from the banking executive to the fried-rice street vendor carries a mobile device. Depending on the city, Internet access may be slow or unreliable, and mobile devices are best suited to occasional bursts of low-bandwidth activity (texting, emailing, simple apps or Web look-ups)," he wrote in a new blog post based on a recent Asian trip.
And despite a new IDC report showing Apple surging past BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion in the third quarter into the top five mobile phone makers worldwide, the iPhone doesn't appear to be as popular in Asia as elsewhere.
"Past a certain modest income threshold, BlackBerry is the preferred device, with iPhones relegated to the wealthy -- and then mainly used for music, photos, and other media. Many people carry multiple devices. I saw only a few laptops and almost no iPads," noted Hurst, founder and president of Creative Good and host of the annual Gel conference.
IDC said in its quarterly mobile market report that Android-powered smartphones had gained momentum across the Asia/Pacific region at the expense of Nokia. Samsung gained ground in South Korea, while in Japan, growth was driven mainly by domestic manufacturers including Sharp, Panasonic, Fujitsu and NEC.
For his part, Hurst more broadly emphasized the sense of Asia rising even as the U.S. economy continues to languish in slow-growth mode. "It's hard to overestimate the feeling of energy, expansion, investment, and activity that pervades the region," he wrote. Hurst capped off his insights by advising readers to consider Asia, and mobile, "in any strategy for your future development."
In that vein, Apple this week launched an online store and simplified Chinese version of its App Store for consumers in China as the company moves to boost its presence in the market. Apple also plans to open 25 physical stores in China by next year.