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Internet access rates in the Asia-Pacific region vary widely. For example, countries such as China, India and Indonesia are seeing a digital divide between urban populations with high internet access levels and rural areas that lack the infrastructure to support it. Despite these limitations, internet access growth in Asia-Pacific is expected to be 8.2% in 2015 and then remain around 7% for the rest of eMarketer's forecast period, through 2019.
Internet user growth in the region will result largely from the widespread adoption of smartphones in emerging markets. eMarketer projects that there will be 2.51 billion mobile phone users in the region in 2015, a figure equal to 62.5% of the population. The mobile phone penetration rate is expected to rise to 69.4% by 2019. This year, China alone will account for 1.0 billion mobile phone users in Asia-Pacific.
Smartphone adoption will continue apace, with eMarketer estimating that 40.8% of the mobile population in Asia-Pacific will have such a device in 2015, although penetration rates among individual countries will vary widely. Smartphone users in the region will number just over 1 billion this year. By 2019, smartphone penetration among mobile phone users will be 51.5%, when smartphone users will number 1.48 billion. With China showing signs that its smartphone market is now slowing, India has emerged as the largest potential growth market for adoption of the devices. The proliferation of cheaply manufactured devices and a drop in the cost of service plans in particular markets have helped to drive smartphone uptake across Asia-Pacific.
The fifth annual edition of eMarketer's Global Media Intelligence Report, produced in conjunction with Starcom MediaVest Group, analyzes recent developments in Asia-Pacific, which will retain its title as the fastest-growing economic region in the world over the next few years. It also includes demographic and media usage information on audiences in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan.
China alone accounts for 28.3% of all smartphone users on the planet. Asia-Pacific's largest smartphone market has gone through its most dramatic growth period, and there are now signs that it is maturing. eMarketer estimates that 38.6% of residents in China will own a smartphone in 2015, for a user base of 525.8 million. By 2019, that figure will reach 687.7 million—almost half (49.8%) of the population will own a smartphone and use it at least once per month.
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