BEIJING/KUALA LUMPUR: Although Muslims make up a smaller proportion of Malaysia's population than in Indonesia, the rate of Islamic app penetration was higher in Malaysia during this year's Ramadan, a new study has revealed.

Ramadan is the lunar month of fasting and prayer that is observed by Muslims around the world, and Cheetah Global Lab, a Beijing-based research firm, decided to examine mobile usage in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in the build up to the holy month and its first week.

The research, based on data supplied by AppInsight, was conducted between May 30 and June 12 (Ramadan started this year on June 6), and found a 9.83% penetration rate for Islamic-related apps in Malaysia.

Cheetah Global Lab defined penetration as the number of weekly active users of Islamic apps and said Malaysia's score of just under 10% compared with 7.24% in Indonesia and 3.11% in Singapore.

In Malaysia, Ramadan apps made up 13 of the top 30 apps before Ramadan began, and their growth all exceeded 30%, while in Singapore seven of the top 30 fastest-growing apps were related to Ramadan, but they all grew more than 36%.

Not surprisingly, the activity levels for Quran-related apps greatly increased over the period under review, and these included audio and translation aids as well as apps that provided reminders of prayer times.

But games was a surprising category to have experienced growth, with the fastest-growing sub-categories being simulation in Indonesia (27.7%), role-playing in Malaysia (15%) and board games in Singapore (15.5%).

"Perhaps during Ramadan one cannot indulge too heavily in entertainment or eating, so users all tend to play simulation games, where they can play different roles and imagine they are living another life," the report suggested.

Likewise, a closer look at the top six educational games showed that growth mainly involved those related to cooking and baking, suggesting that people were preparing for Eid al-Fitr, the celebration at the end of Ramadan that marks the end of the fast.

Elsewhere, the report found that sports app activity and penetration levels fell the most in Malaysia and Singapore despite the excitement generated by the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament in France.

The report explained that the time difference meant it was difficult for Muslim football fans to maintain enough energy to watch the matches deep into the night after fasting for an entire day.

A recent report for Warc, entitled "From Fast to Feast" by Zulfi Rahardian, an analyst at Google Indonesia, examined the changes to Indonesian consumer behaviour during Ramadan.

Among other findings, the study revealed that e-commerce traffic is 152% higher between 3.00am and 6.00am during the holy month and that there are certain key moments for brands to recognise when building their mobile strategies.

Data sourced from Cheetah Global Lab; additional content by Warc staff