OREANDA-NEWS. The Facebook family is strengthening its position amongst digital frontrunners globally. While most time is spent on messaging apps, today’s young consumers still rate SMS and mobile calls as intrinsic to their communication habits. And there’s a new challenger on the market: watch out as internet calls gain momentum in Asia.

In a Telenor Research study conducted in November-December 2015, mobile users aged 16-35 years in Telenor Group’s markets in Asia and Europe were interviewed about their mobile communication habits. The interviewees, identified as “digital frontrunners”, were from Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Norway, Sweden, Serbia, and Hungary.

The way this group use internet on their mobiles gives good indications on the future developments of communications services and how the wider demographic in the respective countries will adopt mobile internet in the years ahead.

“Compared to our previous surveys of digital frontrunners, we observe a general trend towards increased use of internet based communication on mobiles. However, the survey shows that the preferences differ from market to market. Traditional telco services like voice calls and SMS are still an important part of the communication habits in most of the surveyed countries,” said Bjørn Taale Sandberg, Head of Telenor Research.

Despite not dominating in the time spent on it, traditional mobile calls are seen as the most important service type in all the countries except Malaysia.

In Malaysia, a major shift has already happened in the communication market, but Thailand and Serbia seem to be hot on their heels.

Thailand and Malaysia are the most digital of Telenor’s surveyed markets; Malaysians stand out as the most eager users of messaging apps, with the vast majority (62%) ranking them as the most important communication tool.  More than 80% of the Malaysian frontrunners use messaging apps on a daily basis compared to 49% for SMS. Looking back to the same survey in 2012, the numbers were reverse. This strong position of messaging apps today is mainly due to the success of WhatsApp amongst Malaysian frontrunners. In Thailand, Internet voice calling (32%) is a close competitor to ordinary mobile calls (35%) as the “most important” communication tool.

Serbia stood out in the survey, albeit in another sense than Malaysia. Serbia has by far the highest share of frontrunners who use ordinary phone calls and SMS on a daily basis. The large majority use traditional mobile voice calls at least once a day (94%).  Yet, they are on par with Malaysia and Thailand when it comes to frontrunners’ use of messaging apps (85% use them daily).

Digital frontrunners in Hungary are ahead of their peers in Scandinavia and Pakistan when it comes to the daily use of messaging apps but behind Serbia and the Asian markets. While messaging apps are used by more than 70 % on a daily basis, almost half of the Hungarian frontrunners still rank ordinary voice calls as the most important service for mobile communication.