SINGAPORE: Over 40% of consumers in Asian markets including Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam are interested in buying smartphones during the coming year.

A survey conducted in six local markets by research firm The Nielsen Company revealed 24% of respondents already owned a handset like the iPhone or alternatives powered by Google's Android operating system.

Among the Indonesians not currently owning such gadgets, 51% intended to purchase one in the next 12 months.

Figures hit 47% in Thailand, 46% with reference to Vietnam, 45% discussing Malaysia, 40% in the Philippines and 39% for Singapore, where penetration was at its highest.

An additional 27% of interviewees will "definitely" or "probably" not buy a touchphone in the next year, peaking at 32% in Vietnam and 30% in Singapore and the Philippines, compared with 20% in Indonesia.

Variations also existed concerning the intentions of different demographics, given 50% of men and 25-34 year olds wished to acquire a smartphone, falling to 41% for women.

"Mobile devices will continue to see solid growth in the near future, although that growth will not be even across the region," Suresh Ramalingam, The Nielsen Company's managing director, telecom practice, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa.

"The more sophisticated markets like Singapore will drive growth, while developing markets like Vietnam will grow more slowly."

When choosing their preferred operating system, 58% of participants named that provided by Nokia, which claimed top spot in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Another 37% selected Apple's OS, leading in Singapore, while 20% prioritised BlackBerry, 18% opted for Microsoft and 16% picked an Android phone.

Text messaging remains the most popular non-voice mobile activity, with 92% of contributors sending at least one SMS in the last 30 days.

Using the mobile web secured 50% on this measure, and 62% of the sample hope to dedicate more time to doing so in the next 12 months.

Reading email, playing games and instant messaging completed the mobile media audience's five main pastimes at present.

Elsewhere, 20% of the panel had downloaded a mobile app in the 30 days before the poll.

"Mobile internet usage is destined to grow dramatically," said Ramalingam.

"As the region's consumers continue to become more affluent, smartphone penetration will rise and the number of people access the internet via mobiles will increase, especially with greater flexibility and affordability in data plans."

Data sourced from The Nielsen Company; additional content by Warc staff