Asian Internet Users Moving Beyond Web

Although Asia trails the United States in terms of household Internet penetration, NetValue has found the number of people connecting to the Web has grown much faster is Asia.

The Asian market (defined by NetValue as China, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan) currently has a household Internet penetration rate of 34.8 percent, or about 10 million households. The U.S. household penetration rate is roughly 50 percent.

In March 2001, NetValue found that Internet users in the five countries connected to the Internet (for Web and non-Web activities) for a total of 284,830 days, or an average of 12.2 days per Internet user. About 52.1 percent of the time online was spent on non-Web protocols (applications used at the TCP/IP [definition] level without using a Web browser, e.g., email and instant messaging). With the exception of China, the other four markets used such non-Web protocols more than 50 percent of the time.

“Internet activity is no longer just about surfing Web pages,” said Clayton Fitts, vice president of sales and marketing in NetValue Limited. “If you consider how much time and energy you would personally spend on protocols such as email, instant messaging, chat and streaming, then it becomes clear that businesses which work only at the surfing or Web level are missing half of the picture.”

According to NetValue’s data, Web surfing appears to be more popular with the Chinese Internet users when compared to their Asian counterparts. Internet users in Hong Kong were the most popular users of instant messaging, with about 32 percent using the IM protocol. Internet users in Singapore, on the other hand, love to chat. The Taiwanese engage most frequently in emailing (POP3 and SMTP protocols) activities, while the Koreans emerged first with audio-streaming and gaming protocols.

“Considering the broadband incidence in Korea, it is not surprising to see Koreans using audio-video streaming and playing games online,” Fitts said. “About 61 percent of the households connected to the Internet are broadband enabled. Broadband enables faster downloading, better video effects and greater multiplayer capabilities. So if you have a broadband connection, then streaming and online games become easier to access, and the audio-video experience also becomes much more entertaining.”

Compared to Internet users in the United States, Asian Net users show more diverse interests across the Web sites they visit. On the average, the Internet users visited 6.4 different sectors in March 2001 compared to the national average of 5.7 sectors in the United States. This was followed by Hong with about 6.5 sectors, Singapore and Taiwan (5.9) and China (5.2).

Singapore and Hong Kong lead Asia among visits to the Knowledge sector of sites (social science, science, geography, nature, etc.) with 15.5 and 12.3 percent reach compared to an average of 8.1 percent. Hong Kong prefers the Media sector (print, television, radio), with a reach of 71.8 percent compared to an Asian average of 62.6 percent. In Korea, the Arts & Culture sector (music, litertaure, movies, etc.), Media and Pornography sectors are most popular. For these sectors, Korean Internet users represent more than 66 percent of the total Asian visitors. In Taiwan, the Society sector (public life, education, associations, medical, etc.) has a reach of 82.4 percent compared to the Asian average of 78.4 percent.

Distribution of Days Connected by Protocol for Asian Markets
March 2001
Country Web Instant
Mail File
News Chat Games
China 55% 11% 22% 6% 2% 1% 1% 2%
Hong Kong 41% 32% 9% 6% 4% 4% 1% 2%
Korea 43% 11% 3% 6% 18% 0% 2% 17%
Singapore 40% 22% 19% 3% 6% 1% 8% 1%
Taiwan 43% 11% 28% 7% 3% 1% 1% 6%
Source: NetValue

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