With mobile phones coming to Indonesia before everyone had landlines, Southeast Asia’s most populous nation leapfrogged into the mobile era.
By 2005 only a quarter of Indonesian homes had landlines, while mobile penetration stood at 20 percent. Now, five years later, more than half the population has mobile phones and the number of landlines has declined by more than 10 percent.
Mobile phones have an impact on Internet usage that has been seen in few other markets globally. The decline of Friendster in Indonesia happened largely due to Facebooks’s superior mobile app.
Interestingly, much of the growth has been driven by teenagers, according to recent research by the Nielsen company.
More than 70 percent of teenagers have mobile phones and the number of 10 to 14-year olds owning phones increased five times in the last five years, according to Nielsen.
The Indonesian demographic with the highest penetration of mobile phones is teenagers aged 15 to 19.
The top uses for mobile phones for teens: Instant messaging or chatting, not voice calls or texting.
While they have increased in number, Indonesians spend less on their mobile phones. Nearly 60 percent of mobile phone users spent less than Rp. 50,000 (@USD 5) per month in 2010 compared to only 18 percent in 2005.
Why? Tariffs have dropped and – not surprisingly – many of those getting mobile phones in the last five years have less money.