Google held a press conference in Karachi this morning to share insights from its first survey on Pakistani internet users and how they behave on the internet. The survey, titled the ‘Pakistan Digital Consumer Study’, was conducted in consultation with research firm IDC over the last two months and surveyed 1000 Pakistani internet users from seven metros.
Some of the most interesting findings are as follows:
12% of the respondents said they used a mobile as their primary device to access the internet.
Although 86% of respondents use PCs to access the internet daily, 77% use smartphones, 73% use feature phones and 59% use tablets, daily.
Respondents said they spent on average 2.5 hours on the internet on weekdays and 3 hours on weekends.
In a comparison of different media, 70% said they spend time on the internet daily as compared to 41% on TV and 24% on print media.
Aurora spoke to Tania Aidrus, Manager for Asian Growth Markets, Google Asia-Pacific and Zeffri Yusof, Manager, Communications and Public Affairs, Google, to find out a bit more about the Study.
Why did Google decide to do a study on Pakistani digital consumers right now?
Tania Aidrus: One of the key things that we like to understand around emerging markets is how people are using the internet. We can get numbers from other parties but there isn’t good information on what people are doing on the internet. This is the sort of activity we generally do in emerging markets around the world to understand online behaviour.
How does the information you have found on Pakistan compare with other Asian and South Asian markets?
Zeffri Yusof: There are certain interesting trends; one of the earlier researches that we did pointed to the fact that the next 500 million coming to the internet by the end of 2015 are from six particular countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, China, India and Brazil. Considering that of the five billion who are not on the internet, half of those are coming from these countries, we are super interested in what the patterns are usage are. To be honest, there are so many more people who are not on the internet and they will really determine the future of not just the internet but the future of Google as a company.
Are there any findings in the Study that took you by surprise?
ZY: The one that I found interesting was the figures around ‘nutritious’ content. In Google, we classify content as ‘entertainment’ content which is enjoyable, and then there is ‘nutritious’ content which is educational and informative. Reading the news and viewing educational videos happens to be incredibly high when people are using their smartphones and I found that quite interesting.
How does this compare to other Asian markets?
ZY: I can compare this to my home market, Malaysia, and what we found was that by the time internet penetration went to 60%, the demand for local nutritious content just shot up. Basically it points to the local internet eco system taking on a new growth phase and we feel that might happen in Pakistan.
TA: To add to what Zeffri said, everyone thinks people will be on social media but fewer people realise that the internet is being used for education and then online banking also came as a big surprise to us. One-fourth of the people surveyed said they did online banking in a market where not many banks have an online banking product.
Based on what you have seen in other emerging markets, how do you see the Pakistani digital consumer developing in terms of what they will be doing on the internet and which devices they will be using to access the internet?
TA: We will continue to move towards a more multi-device world and we will see an explosion in terms of phone usage. The percentage of people who said they use their mobile device to access the internet is still small (12%) but once you penetrate the part of the country who can afford these devices (a phase we’re already at) you start to touch people who will get on to the internet for the first time using a $40-50 smartphone and that’s when you start getting scale and that is what we have also seen in other emerging markets.
ZY: From the opportunities we have identified, one of them is related to economic activity. As more small businesses come on the internet, they discover export markets and we have seen this in other markets as well. And then there is the demand for local nutritious content, and with more people on smartphones, the consumption pattern becomes more spread out during the day because they are not just accessing the internet from work or home, it is across the full day.