Filipinos spend most time online in Southeast Asia

Posted on May 15, 2015

FILIPINOS spend “a staggering 27 hours a week online,” the highest by far compared to their neighbors in Southeast Asia, a managing director of Google said on Thursday.

Well-wishers follow the arrival of Pope Francis on a screen of a mobile phone while they wait near where he would stay in Manila on Jan. 15. Filipinos spend five hours a day on their smartphones and 2.8 hours online, a Google executive said. -- AFP
Rajan Anandan, vice-president and managing director of Google Southeast Asia and India, made these remarks at a roundtable discussion, citing the 2014 Global Index.

“... The amount of time that a Filipino spends on online is absolutely staggering. That’s 27 hours a week, the highest by far in Southeast Asia,” he said.

Filipinos spend five hours a day on their smartphones and 2.8 hours online, he added. Some 32% of these smartphone users download at least six apps a month and 52% have recently purchased products and services using their device.

Sixty-seven percent of these smartphone users have researched a product or service from their device which include travel at 53%, restaurants and bars at 49%, and apartment and housing information at 38%.

Currently, 47 million of the 100 million Filipinos are already on the Internet and 55% of the Internet users are on smartphones which actually makes the Philippines the highest smartphone penetration rate among emerging markets in the world, Mr. Anandan said.

“By the end of the year, there will be 10 million new Internet users. That’s 57 million Filipinos online. By June next year, we expect around 60 million on the Internet which is 60% of your population,” he said.

As more Filipinos engage in online activities, Mr. Anandan said that businesses should shift to digital today because it is where the consumers are.

“The Internet becomes useful if you put large amounts of useful content. Otherwise it is just limited to messaging, social media, and the like. It becomes more useful if you get more businesses online,” Mr. Anandan said.

“And that’s our overall goal here in the Philippines. To transform the lives of the 100 million people through digitization,” he added.

Mr. Anandan said that out of more than a million small and medium enterprises in the country, only 1% our around 10,000 has a Web site.

“So we’ve set an ambitious goal. By 2017, we want to get 500,000 businesses of the Philippines to have a Web presence. And to do this we have to set a lot of things,” he added.

Among Google’s initiatives that Mr. Anandan discussed is Google My Business -- which allows a company to have a Web presence as it allows the business to connect directly with their customers, either through Google Search, Maps or Google+. The service will be available in the Philippines by this year and Mr. Anandan disclosed that several companies have already signed up.

“And it doesn’t cost anything to the business -- it’s for free. They can put images of the product, their address and contact details, and other information about the business.”

“It’s much, much easier than creating a Web site. It’s free and at the same time it provides as much, but not all of the functionality present in a Web site, but provides the adequate information,” he added.

“And as the Internet becomes an important utility, not just a source of entertainment or messaging, it starts impacting industries. The companies within these industries that leverage the Internet are able to accelerate their growth and in many ways succeed in their mission.”

“And we want more small-medium enterprises leverage this huge consumer base going online,” Mr. Anandan said. -- Virgil S. Villanueva