Digital 2013: Pakistan
The online environment in Pakistan is changing rapidly, as a quick comparison between today's report and our first edition from December 2011 will attest.
The key headlines from this second edition are as follows:
Pakistan has almost 30 million internet users, although penetration remains low at just 15%;
Social Media use has grown by almost 50% since our last report, passing 8 million monthly users in the past couple of weeks;
Mobile continues to grow quickly, with the country's telcos adding more than 1 million new subscriptions each month in 2012.
With more than two-thirds of Pakistan's 190 million inhabitants below the age of 30, it's clear that the nation benefits from a young and dynamic population.
Furthermore, despite financial challenges – the average income in Pakistan is less than $3,000 per year – Pakistanis are embracing connected devices and the content that they offer.
Interestingly, 80% of Pakistan's netizens spend more than one hour each day on the internet, although the average 'internet session' lasts just 5 minutes, suggesting that Pakistanis go online multiple times each day for short 'browsing snacks'.
The majority of netizens use laptops to access the internet, although 30% of internet users go online via a mobile phone – perhaps unsurprising given that more than 100 million mobile subscriptions have been activated in Pakistan to date.
Mobile penetration still remains relatively low however, at just over 60% – well below Asia's regional average of 82%.
Social media penetration also remains acutely low, with barely 4% of the country's population using Facebook, even though the site appears to maintain its position as the most popular social network in the country.
Social media remains a largely male preserve too, with men accounting for almost 70% of the country's social media users.
However, Facebook is adding new users in Pakistan at a rate of one every 12 seconds, and 28% of social media users make use of 2 or more platforms, suggesting plenty of potential for growth in social media use in the country during 2013.
Crucially for marketers, two-thirds of the country's Facebook users are below the age of 25, and more than half of them come from the country's richest 10% of households, resulting in a highly concentrated social media audience of young, affluent consumers.
Nearly three-quarters of these users log in to Facebook daily too, and spend an average of 40 minutes on the site each day, mostly between 6pm and midnight.
Twitter users hover around the 2 million mark, although some estimates put Pakistan's Twitter population closer to 3 million. Google+ also appears to have a certain popularity in Pakistan, although exact user numbers are harder to come by.
As with many countries around Asia though, the real excitement lies in mobile. Someone takes out a new mobile subscription every 2 seconds in Pakistan, resulting in growth of 46,500 new subscriptions every day.
Despite this impressive growth, however, mobile internet usage remains sparse, and just 15 million people in the country access internet services via mobile, even though the government reports that 64% of the population has the potential to access mobile internet services.
Of those who already access the internet via mobile, 75% do so via Symbian-powered devices, and most people in Pakistan continue to rely on feature phones.
Lack of 3G coverage may play a role in the slow uptake of mobile internet, and extending the coverage of these faster networks beyond today's paltry 0.4% of the population would likely boost the country's online connectivity.
These numbers all point to significant opportunities for growth though, so Pakistan is certainly another one to watch in 2013.
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This article first appeared on the We Are Social Blog.