The team at GlobalWebIndex joined forces with We Are Social again for our new APAC Digital report, which we published last week. In this guest post, GWI’s Jason Mander shares his take on one of the hottest digital trends in APAC, and what it means for marketers.

As We Are Social’s new Digital, Social and Mobile in APAC 2015 report makes clear, Asia still lags (considerably) behind regions like North America and Western Europe when it comes to internet penetration rates. In places like India, for example, fewer than 1 in 5 adults are going online – which means internet populations in these countries tend to be skewed towards young, urban and affluent segments.

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These demographic trends are one of the major reasons why fast-growth markets are typically at the forefront of many digital behaviours such as social networking engagement and mobile internet usage. But it also shows why mobiles are so key to the future of this region: each year, tens of millions of APAC consumers are coming online for the first time, and many will be doing so via mobile.

Of course, the migration away from PCs and laptops towards mobiles has been much documented. But GlobalWebIndex’s long-term data on this area shows just how rapidly the switch is occurring in APAC; as our chart below makes clear, the average time per day that digital consumers in APAC are spending online is on the rise, but this is being driven almost exclusively by mobiles.

In fact, while the last three years have seen little change in the amount of daily time captured by PCs/laptops, the figure for mobiles jumped from 1.44 in 2012 to 2.21 hours in 2014. In terms of share, that means mobiles now account for 34% of time spent online in APAC, up from 25% in 2012. This pattern shows no sign of slowing: each year, mobiles are becoming more and more important gateways to the internet.

GWI Media Consumption Over Time

Age-based patterns are particularly telling, here: the younger the individual, the more time they typically devote to the mobile web (with smartphones now accounting for 39% of total time spent online among 16-24s versus just 19% for 55-64s). In contrast, time devoted to linear TV and traditional radio increases in line with age, so it’s not simply that 16-24s are ahead for all media consumption behaviors. Rather, it’s that they’re leading the charge towards anything digital, and toward mobile usage in particular.

As always, generalisations are a dangerous thing, here. Across APAC, average time on the mobile internet per day is typically lowest in places such as Japan, Australia, Singapore and South Korea – where high internet penetration rates mean that online populations have much more balanced age profiles. But that mobiles are the devices carrying all the momentum in this region is beyond doubt.

Read the full Digital, Social & Mobile in APAC in 2015 report here.