Some 73 per cent of smartphone users in Malaysia are expected to surf the Internet through their mobile device, making it necessary for the country to look to superior networks to cope with the increase in traffic.
As in the first quarter of this year, Internet users among smartphone users stood at 47 per cent and if the figure rises to 73 per cent, it would be the region's biggest growth.
These figures were based on the the recently-concluded analysis by Ericsson ConsumerLab in Southeast Asia and Oceania.
The growing usage opens up a new platform for operators to access the largely untapped data market, said Ericsson Malaysia & Sri Lanka strategy and marketing head Steven Tai.
He said telco operators need to ensure that their networks are smartphone-ready, capable of delivering superior coverage, speed and reliability to handle the demands of continued mobile data growth.
"In Malaysia, non-smartphones are still popular among consumers but smartphones are expected to become more dominant in the market," said head of Ericsson ConsumerLab South East Asia & Oceania Afrizal Abdul Rahim.
He said the key motivating factors for future smartphone users are Internet surfing at 39 per cent, upgrade from current devices at 34 per cent while 29 per cent use smartphones for the usage of the apps.
Afrizal and Tai said this in a media briefing to unveil the findings of Ericsson ConsumerLab's survey here yesterday.
The global survey interviewed a total of 47,587 respondents from 58 countries via online and face-to-face. In Malaysia, 500 respondents aged 16 to 60 took part.
Tablet penetration in Malaysia is also on the rise and it is expected to triple from 14 per cent in the early part of this year to 48 per cent by end of this year.
Currently, Singapore has the highest penetration of tablets in the region followed by Australia.
"Drivers for future tablet purchases vary from country to country and here, Internet surfing is the main driver followed by portability and the convenient size of the tablet," said Afrizal.
Tai said smartphone usage numbers in developing Asia are projected to increase by more than four-fold between 2011 and 2016 due to the emergence of low-cost, mass-market smartphones that will encourage higher levels of adoption.