SINGAPORE: Asia Pacific accounts for roughly half the world's internet users and half the world's active social media users, but there is widespread scope for mobile to make greater inroads into these figures as most time online is still spent on desktops and laptops, a new study has shown.

In 2014 Asia-Pacific Digital Overview, We Are Social, a global conversation agency, published a series of key digital statistics from a range of sources illustrating the online landscape in the region.
These showed that users in the Philippines spent the greatest amount of time online daily, including 6.2 hours via laptops or desktops and 2.8 hours via mobile devices. Malaysia was close behind, with 5.6 hours spent on laptops/desktops and 3.1 hours on mobile devices.

Across the region, only Thailand spent an equivalent time online via mobile devices, at 3.1 hours; Japan was the lowest in this regard, at just one hour.

Part of the explanation for the fewer hours spent online using mobile internet access may lie in the type of connection paid for and the manner in which that payment is made.

Some 82% of mobile subscriptions are pre-paid and just 21% are for 3G connections, suggesting that there is widespread scope for people to gain faster access.

Penetration rates in some countries remain surprisingly low, the report noted. India, on 17%, was around half the global average, while Pakistan stood at 10%. Thailand was just above the average but neighbouring Laos and Cambodia were far below on 11% and 5% respectively.

And while more and more people were going onto social networks, especially chat apps such as WeChat, LINE, and Kakaotalk, user figures and penetration rates around the region varied hugely.

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India and Pakistan were at the same stage here, with social media penetration rates of 7% and 6% respectively, or around a quarter of the regional average. Taiwan, in contrast, recorded a 64% penetration rate, closely followed by Brunei on 63% and Hong Kong on 61%.

The report observed that the proportion of the population accessing social media through a mobile device (24.3%) was much higher than the penetration of mobile broadband (16.6%), and said this indicated that many people continued to access social media through slower mobile connections.

Data sourced from We Are Social; additional content by Warc staff