Southeast Asia Internet users spend more than 3 hours on their smartphones daily

More than the Americans, Chinese and Japanese.

Kayla Wong | December 12, 2017, 06:37 PM

More than 90% of internet users in Southeast Asia are on smartphones, and they spend an average of 3.6 hours per day on mobile internet, more than people from anywhere else in the world.

In contrast, the American, Chinese, and Japanese users users spent 2 hours, 3 hours and 1 hour per day respectively.

These findings are from new research jointly conducted by Google and Temasek last year, and are included in its inaugural Google-Temasek e-Conomy SEA Spotlight 2017, a report released today (Dec. 12).

Consumer habits underlie greater internet trend

Internet users in the region also spend much more time online shopping than American internet users — 140 mins as compared to the latter's 80 mins.

According to Rajan Ananda, Vice President of Southeast Asia and India at Google, these are encouraging consumer trends, and the growth is likely to continue.

The findings also underlie the growing internet economy in the region.

According to the report, Southeast Asia's internet economy is expected to hit US$50 billion in 2017 amid "unprecedented growth", and will potentially exceed US$200 billion by 2025.

All four key sectors of the internet economy — online travel, online media, e-commerce and ride hailing — have experienced "solid growth" in 2017 as well. 

Southeast Asia also has the world's fastest growing internet user base, with 330 million active internet users monthly by the end of this year.

4 of Southeast Asia's 7 unicorns are based in S'pore

Heard of unicorns? Here, we are not referring to the legendary mystical creature with a pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead.

A unicorn, in startup terms, refer to a startup company valued at over $1 billion.

And the good news for Singapore?

Southeast Asia has originated 7 unicorns and 4 of them are headquartered in Singapore.

They are Grab, Lazada, SEA Ltd. (formerly known as Garena), and Razer.

The other unicorns are focused on Indonesia, and they are Go-Jek, Traveloka and Tokopedia.


Chinese investments a tribute to the unicorns' successes

More than US$12 billion of capital was raised by the region's internet companies between 2016 and the third quarter of 2017, up from US$1 billion in 2015.

A majority of these funds (75%, or US$9 billion) went to the region's unicorns, which means that access to capital remains a challenge for Southeast Asian start-ups and smaller ventures.

Also notable is that out of these 7 unicorns, 6 have received Chinese funding.

These Chinese investments are a "tribute" to the unicorns' success as they only started to pour in after these companies have achieved considerable success, according to Rohit Sipahimalani, the other speaker for the event and Joint Head of the Portfolio Strategy & Risk Group at Temasek.

Shortage of tech talent

Despite the rapid growth of the Internet economy in Southeast Asia, the shortage of tech talent remains a problem.

According to Sipahimalani, the region lacks senior engineering, as well as overall leadership talent.

The challenge is to find homegrown leaders with both local, cultural knowledge of the region, and experience in the west managing these high-growth companies.