SINGAPORE: Pay-as-you-go feature phones with "bite-size" data packages are making a major contribution to spreading the mobile web revolution across Asia.

Net Index 2011, a new study from Yahoo!, shows that handsets costing less than $200, operating via pre-paid rather than contract deals, are playing a "significant role" in developing the market.

Consumers using these devices tend to pay less than $20 a month for access to the mobile web, with social networking and IM particularly popular among teens and young adults.

David Jeffs, head of insights for Yahoo! Southeast Asia, commented: "The phenomenal growth of the mobile Internet in Southeast Asia offers a range of opportunities to brand marketers to tap into the entire journey of a consumer's purchase path.

"Whilst mobile marketing is currently in its infancy, we will expect this to become a popular channel to complement other mass media platforms."

Individual country data from the multi-market study revealed that Indonesian mobile web penetration has risen from 22% in 2009 to 58% this year.

Contributing to this rapid growth is the fact that Indonesia's pre-paid mobile costs are low by regional standards, with the average monthly payment coming in at around $12.50.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam the penetration rate stands at 30%, up from 19% in 2010.

Across all of the nations measured by the Net Index, the most-visited mobile website was either Google or Facebook, with Yahoo in second place.

Nokia was found to be the most popular handset maker among consumers. This chimes with global figures from Gartner, which shows that the Finnish firm accounted for almost 24% of total mobile phone sales, including feature phones and smartphones, in the third quarter of 2011. Samsung was second on 18%.

However, in the smartphone sector, including high-end devices using 3G technology, Gartner said that Nokia's market share had fallen from 36% in the third quarter of 2010 to just 17%.

By contrast, the share for handsets powered by Google's Android operating system had doubled, rising from 25% to 52.5%.

Data sourced from Yahoo; additional content by Warc staff