5 things to know about Filipino mobile users

Aya Lowe
The TNS 'Mobile Life 2013' study shows that Filipinos are social, find data plans too expensive, care more about use than looks, are still wary of buying online and like Samsung more than Apple

SOCIAL EXTENSION. Filipino consumers use smartphone more for social activities than professional activities. Photo from AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is now considered the fastest-growing market for smartphones in Southeast Asia, with a staggering 326% increase in smartphone sales in 2012.

The TNS “Mobile Life 2013” survey revealed an interesting profile of Filipino smartphone users.

Below are some of the highlights.

Filipinos are social

According to the survey, the top functions Filipinos use their smartphones for are SMS/text messaging, listening to music, taking photos/videos and playing games.

About 75% of Metro Manila respondents surveyed are taking photos or videos with their smartphones (up from 73% in the 2012 survey), 45% are browsing the Internet (up from 32% in 2012), 44% are accessing social networking sites (up from 34% in 2012), and 37% are checking their emails (up from 23% in 2012).

“The main reason they use their mobile phones is social. It’s all about the sharing,” said Gary de Ocampo, managing director at TNS.

Joseph Webb, head of digital at TNS, said Filipinos use their smartphones for the entertainment features. “The mobile is great to use when you have down time,” said Webb.

The latest TNS survey, conducted between November 2012 and January 2013, polled 500 Metro Manila respondents through face-to-face interviews.

Filipinos care more about use than looks

According to de Ocampo, there has been a change in purchasing priorities from buying a phone based on its physical design to choosing a phone based on the right features that enhance personal experience.

“An increase in smartphone ownership reflect this changing need for mobile phone users to own phones that offer features beyond just calling and texting functions,” said de Ocampo.

This comes with the changing importance of the phone as a device to complement consumers’ daily activities.

The TNS survey found that across all countries, 54% of consumers consider mobile phones as their most important piece of technology. In Metro Manila, 64% believe that a mobile phone is their most important piece of technology.

In Metro Manila, 9 out of 10 respondents currently own mobile phones, while smartphone ownership is significantly higher than the rest of emerging Asia.

“Mobile devices are extremely important to Manileños from being an extension of their personality to being a source of entertainment,” the survey stated.

Filipinos find data plans too expensive

In terms of data, Filipino smartphone users prefer to connect to the Internet via wi-fi access in public areas.

About 35% of Metro Manila respondents said they surf the web using public wi-fi.

“Smartphones afford consumers greater connectivity and variety in terms of activities for instance browsing the internet, social networking and connecting to wifi in public areas,” the survey stated.

“The data plans are too expensive. It comes through in statements where more than half say data is too expensive,” said Webb.

Filipinos are still wary about buying online

Filipinos tend to use their mobile devices when researching a product they’d like to buy, but do not actually make the purchase online.

“At the moment we’ve seen a situation in mobile where it’s online research before purchase. [Online] purchasing is still low in the Philippines,” said Webb, adding that mobile banking is also something that “hasn’t taken off in this market.”

Webb cited security concerns as the reason.

“Security is primary concern of Manila residents when it comes to mobile banking,” he said.

Filipinos prefer Samsung over Apple

Samsung is more popular in Manila than Apple mostly due to its affordability. However, Apple iPad remains to be an aspirational product as consumers prefer it more than any other brand in the market, the survey found.

“Nokia captures a huge chunk of the market but still leaves plenty for runner-up Samsung to take some. Local manufacturer Cherry also gets a decent share of the pie,” said de Ocampo.

Webb said this differs from more mature markets such as the UK, where Apple takes majority of the market, followed by Samsung.

“In the Philippines, there is a much longer tail. The market is not defined and is much more fragmented. In the Philippines, around 30% of the market is unclassified,” said Webb.

Among the survey respondents, 89% own mobile phones, 53% own smartphones, 14% own tablets, 39% own desktops, 37% own laptops, and 4% own smart TVs. – Rappler.com

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