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APAC's Low Internet, Smartphone User Penetration Won't Change Much in Coming Years

The region ranks second-to-last in internet user and smartphone penetration worldwide

Internet penetration in Asia-Pacific is still among the lowest in the world—thanks in large part to major disparities among countries in the region, where developed markets like South Korea enjoy large majorities online, while India struggles to get its largely rural population connected.

According to eMarketer’s latest estimates of internet usage worldwide, Asia-Pacific has the second-lowest penetration rates this year, at just over one-third of the population. Only the Middle East and Africa has fewer connected residents as a percentage of the total population. And by the end of our forecast period, the situation won’t be much different.

Smartphone penetration rates around the world tell largely the same story.

Again, Asia-Pacific has the second-lowest penetration rates of any region in the world, ahead of only the Middle East and Africa. Less than one in four individuals in Asia-Pacific own and use a smartphone at least once per month. That compares with a high of 51.5% in North America and an average rate of 24.6% worldwide. And once more, by the end of eMarketer’s forecast period, no major shifts are expected. Though more than one-third of Asia-Pacific residents will have a smartphone by 2018, that will leave them below the worldwide average and still in second-to-last place.

eMarketer bases all of its forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all of its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.

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