MANILA: Instant messaging (IM) is popular across Southeast Asia, where it has largely replaced texting, except in the case of the Philippines where almost three quarters of mobile consumers continue to prefer SMS, according to a new study.

As part of consulting firm Deloitte's Global Mobile Consumer Survey, 6,000 respondents were polled in Southeast Asia, including 1,000 from the Philippines; data released by Navarro Amper & Co, the local member firm of Deloitte Southeast Asia, revealed that 73% of Filipinos used SMS compared to 33% who opted for IM.

Among those citing IM as their messaging tool of choice, Facebook Messenger was almost universally used (94%). Marketing observed that it had been downloaded three times more than Skype and ten times more than WhatsApp.

The penetration of IM in the Philippines – and the choice of app – stands in contrast to other countries in the region. In Malaysia, for example, 80% of IM users are on WhatsApp, while in Thailand LINE is preferred (79% of IM users). And in Indonesia, 76% of IM users remain wedded to BlackBerry Messenger.

"Telecommunications operators can take advantage of this situation to increase revenues from data usage," said Greg Navarro, managing partner & CEO of Navarro Amper & Co.

"They can, for example, tailor chat packages to specific IM applications that are widely used in their respective local markets."

Filipino mobile users appear more devoted to their device than others in Southeast Asia, the report said: 79% checked their phones within 15 minutes of waking up compared to around half of users regionally.

They are also more likely to check them throughout the day – but especially whilst commuting – and to use them to listen to online radio.

Most chose to connect to the internet via wi-fi at home and at work/study, but just 25% did so in public places.

"Again, there's an opportunity here for telecom operators to monetise wi-fi for consumers on public transport facilities," Navarro noted.

"And with the government's project to provide free wi-fi in underserved areas of the country, it will be interesting to see how these statistics and behaviours change over the next few years."

Data sourced from Marketing; additional content by Warc staff