Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Arab world embraces the mobile Internet


45% of Internet users in the Middle East and North Africa use mobile phones to access the Internet: and 57% of those intend to buy tablet devices.

Dubai, 2nd February 2011
A significant number of Internet users across the Middle East and North Africa are accessing the Internet using their mobile devices and using mobile applications. The finding comes from a new survey published by online marketing intelligence company Effective Measure and Spot On Public Relations. The survey of over 12,700 internet users across the Middle East and North Africa found that half of all Internet users in the UAE used mobiles to access the Internet, with over 71% of mobile internet users in the region ranking email as their biggest mobile internet activity.

“People are increasingly using mobiles as Internet access devices in the Middle East and are starting to access social networks as well as news, sport and other information services using their mobiles. The primary application for mobiles is still email, but over 85% of users have downloaded mobile applications for their devices and the spread of services being accessed is very wide,” said Brendon Ogilvy, VP Digital Insights of Effective Measure. “Social networking, in particular, is a strong and growing trend, with 40% of women who use the mobile Internet doing so to access social networks.”

The survey showed some interesting differences in the way men and women in the region use their mobiles. Women were more active on social networking sites using their mobiles (40% of women do, compared to 33% of men) and were more interested in photo & video sharing and information on hobbies, while men were more interested in news and weather information. Women were also more likely to use online games than men.

“With a new generation of smart mobile devices coming to the market, more people are expanding the ways in which they access Internet based applications and services,” said Carrington Malin, Managing Director of Spot On Public Relations. “The growing popularity of mobile applications that access internet services will create significant new market opportunities for not only hardware vendors, but also for Internet publishers, service providers and marketing organisations across the region.”

47% of Internet users surveyed said they intended to buy a tablet device in the coming quarter, while more of those already using the mobile Internet, 57%, having the same plan. 22% of all Internet users surveyed planned to buy an Apple iPad.

One of the key factors that has been inhibiting uptake of mobile Internet in the MENA region is cost. While 26% of people who choose not to use mobile Internet cite cost as the primary factor, only 5% say that not knowing how to access the Internet is stopping them. With smart phones using high amounts of data, it’s hardly a surprise that something like 41% of users in the GCC have unlimited data packages.

The Effective Measure | Spot On PR survey was carried out between November 20th and December 5th 2010 across over 300 websites in the Middle East and North Africa using Effective Measure’s survey technology to select a random sample using intercept invitations. The total sample was 12,754. The report is available for download under a Creative Commons Licence at www.spotonpr.com