How many users per smartphone?

Posted on September 9, 2011  /  0 Comments

Our good friend Nalaka Gunawardene has blogged about the difficulties of figuring out how many people are actually using the Internet in Sri Lanka. He shares our frustration with the archaic data reporting by the TRCSL.

This produced a total of 2,184,018 — which takes the percentage of population to almost 11%. And if we apply the same average number of 3 users, it could give us 30% of population accessing and using the Internet. But is that assumption of 3 users per subscription equally applicable to mobile devices? I’m not sure. I’ll wait for industry experts to clarify.

In fact, neither industry sources and researchers have a reliable figure of how many smartphones are in use in Sri Lanka. Because a significant number comes in through private channels (via returning travellers or Lankan expatriates), the looking simply at the import figures could be misleading. A conservative estimate is that at least one million smartphones with Internet access capability are in use. The number keeps growing.

Exactly how many such smartphone users go online on a regular basis? What kind of info do they look up? How long on average do they stay online per session?

If you know the answers, or have reflected on these, please share.

Let’s hope more reliable data would emerge from the 2011 countrywide census of population. An early report (July 2010) said: “Information will also be collected for the first time on people’s communication methods.”

We too look forward to the HIES and Census data being released. But I would caution against using a multiplier of 3. A smartphone is a personal device. Among the well-to-do, it will not be shared. That means that you have to assume a much higher number using a smartphone in common among the less wealthy.

Our Teleuse@BOP4 survey data that are just in may be able to give a figure on shared use (though not specific to smartphones).

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