Hong Kong – the mobile leader of Greater China

Hong Kong among the lead for smartphones

When smartphones were first introduced to the world (the IMB Simon in 1992 and the Nokia 9000 in 1996), no one imagined how much this new technology would re-define and shape the world. Smartphone usage is growing exponentially, especially in the Asia Pacific region. Mobile traffic is growing at an astounding rate: Cisco has forecast a 26-fold increase from 2010 to the end of 2015 (Cisco, 2011).

\”… more than one in three Hong Kong residents now own a smartphone… \”

In mid 2011, Ipsos partnered with search giant Google, to conduct a large-scale study to probe the latest trends in 30 major markets globally. The study found that the highest penetrations of smartphone ownership were in Singapore (62%) and Australia. More than one-in-three (35%) Hong Kong residents now own a smartphone (Ipsos MediaCT Germany, 2011).


It is widely known that the total number of mobile phone subscriptions in Hong Kong greatly exceeds the number of residents by almost two-to-one -3.7m subscriptions compared with 7.1m residents as of February 2011 (HKSARG, 2011). The Ipsos-Google research indicates that the official figures might be over-estimates – the survey shows that each adult resident owns on average 1.2 phones, confirming suspicions that the total number of subscriptions might be inflated by non-resident tourists and by residents letting subscriptions become moribund when they upgrade their phones. Even so, with 22% of Hong Kong residents having more than one phone, mobile phone penetration in Hong Kong is still one of the highest in the world.

iOS prevails in Hong Kong

Worldwide, iOS and Android predominate compared with other operating systems such as Windows Mobile, Symbian, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry OS following behind. The huge popularity of Apple in Hong Kong means that iOS is the dominant operating system in the SAR: 58% of smartphone owners use iOS compared with 27% using Android (Ipsos MediaCT Germany, 2011). This is in marked contrast to the USA, where Android leads.

Apps, Apps, and more Apps

With people constantly pressed for time, Hong Kong residents are using apps to escape the complexities of post-modern life. Hong Kong cheap orlistat smartphone users are constantly looking for ways to get information and tasks completed on the go. A recent Synovate study conducted in Hong Kong asked local businessmen \”why do you use these apps most often?\”

Some actual responses were:

“Smartphone apps allow me to talk with friends without paying and to talk as a group”

“Convenience at my fingertips! I do not need to physically log into a computer”

“Angry Birds is a great stress buster”

Staying in touch is important

Social media is highly important among smartphone users in Hong Kong. The apps most downloaded are networking apps: Facebook (44%) and Whatsapp (31%). In Hong Kong, social networking is the most popular activity on the internet – 72% of internet users have participated in social networks in the past month, (Synovate, Synovate Media Atlas Hong Kong, 2011). People like to \”check out the latest activities of friends\”, and to \”connect with friends and to share experiences with friends\”(Synovate, Synovate Media Atlas Hong Kong, 2011)

The potential in China

In China the conditions are brewing for explosive growth in the \”App Industry\” – both ownership of mobile phones and mobile internet use are growing. Synovate Media Atlas China findings show that between December 2009 and December 2010, mobile internet doubled in the top four tier cities in China. Furthermore, by March 2011, 90% of the population in China (Tier 1-Tier 5 cities) owned a mobile phone (Synovate, Synovate Media Atlas China, 2011).

Looking forward

Thomas Edwards, Global Head of Mobile Solutions at Synovate concluded, \”not only are smartphone’s changing the way we live our lives but they are socially connecting millions of people around the world. It’s not the future, it’s the now. Hong Kong is currently embracing this with open arms and from a market research perspective this is very exciting. Being able to personally connect to individuals with something that’s always at arm’s reach 24 hours a day will only add towards the richness of insights that we can provide to our clients, furthermore it is making research more engaging for our respondents and in our experience engagement is key to successful accurate research.\”