With the Internet embedded in our way of life, it is critical that Malaysians move away from using it as an entertainment and communications vehicle to one that boosts productivity and income levels.A 2011 household use Internet study conducted by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is a useful report that shows how Malaysians use the internet. The various areas covered by the report will be useful for both policy makers and mobile operators in helping them target relevant programs to meet user needs.
Consistent with similar studies carried out elsewhere in the world, the MCMC showed that internet usage seemed to have a direct correlation with education levels in the sense that the higher a person was educated, the more time they spent engaged on the internet.
Those with high education (defined as having diplomas, degrees and higher) made up 39.9% of all internet users while those with low education (primary and secondary school up to PMR) made up 5.9% of users.
Looking at income levels, 36.2% of internet users fell in the RM1,000 to RM3,000 monthly range with those with incomes between RM3,000 to RM5,000 making up 16.1% of users. Those with incomes in access of RM5,000 made up 9.8% of users.
Not surprisingly, the majority of users tapped the internet for information and to socialize with friends via social media accounting for 88.3% and 84.4% of users respectively.
Other uses were for text communications (via messaging apps like Whatsapp etc) with 66.4%, education at 63.5%, downloading files at 62.3%, reading at 57.2% and casual surfing at 54.6%.
Internet banking was also popular at 40.9% while 38.4% used e-Government services. Where e-Commerce is concerned, 24.% have used it for that purpose with the most enthusiastic shoppers coming from Putrajaya and Labuan. This is surprising as one would think KL and Selangor would have the most online shoppers. This just shows that the barrier to e-Commerce has been crossed by more than just the dwellers in the economic hub of Malaysia.
Despite the survey being done in 2011, mobile internet had already overtaken fixed internet as the means to access the internet with notebooks being the primary access device for 83.2% of users. Other popular access devices were desktops (40.4%), smartphones (21.5%), feature phones (13.1%) and tablets (13%).
It is obvious that tablets and smartphones are going to become the predominant access device in the 2012 study that is out in the middle of this year.
In terms of how they accessed the internet, mobile broadband was by far the most popular method with 60.4%, followed by ADSL (Streamyx) at 44.3%, WiMAX at 11.2% and high speed broadband at 10.2%. High speed broadband here refers mainly to fiber connections with the main providers in 2011 being Telekom Malaysia and Time Dotcom Bhd.
In terms of what users looked for in their internet service provider, 52.4% said speed was their main factor. This was followed by network coverage (46.9%), affordability (44%), stability of network (39.4%) and customer service (28.4%). With the telcos in particular spending hundreds of million in advertising and promotions, it is interesting to note that 23% are influenced by brand when making their choice.
As to how much home internet subscribers spent monthly, the MCMC study found that 61% spent between RM50 to RM100 a month. This made up the largest group. At the extreme ends, 12.5% spent less than RM50 a month while 0.9% spent more than RM200.
All the spending on the internet translated into 60.7% spending 1 to 4 hours glued to their screens on a daily basis, while 19.7% spent between 4 to 8 hours and with 5% spending a whopping 8 hours to 15 hours a day on the internet. If this is amazing, consider this – the MCMC study also found a fringe 1.6% of users claiming they spent more than 15 hours a day on the internet!
Expect to see the demand for spill-proof and food-proof keyboards to go up.
Photo credit: Flickr user VancityAllie