Business

Indonesians crazy about
chat, still love BlackBerry
Messenger

Chat away: A buyer (left) and a seller (right) are seen trying out BlackBerry handhelds at ITC Kuningan – Mall Ambassador in Jakarta. A recent Nielsen study shows that BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) remained the top chat application in Indonesia, with 79 percent of smartphone users using BBM for about 23 minutes a day on their devices — the most time spent compared to other applications such as WhatsApp, LINE or KakaoTalk. JP/Nurhayati
Chat away: A buyer (left) and a seller (right) are seen trying out BlackBerry handhelds at ITC Kuningan – Mall Ambassador in Jakarta. A recent Nielsen study shows that BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) remained the top chat application in Indonesia, with 79 percent of smartphone users using BBM for about 23 minutes a day on their devices — the most time spent compared to other applications such as WhatsApp, LINE or KakaoTalk. JP/Nurhayati

Indonesians spend most of their time on smartphones for chatting, with nearly 80 percent using the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) chat application, a recent study by market research firm Nielsen has shown.

Rina Apriani, 23, is one person who is still using the BBM application despite the emergence of new chat applications such as WhatsApp, LINE and KakaoTalk.

“I am actually quite bored with BBM, but my parents still use it and they don’t want to use other chat applications. So, I keep using it while also using other interesting chat applications,” she said.

Rina, a loyal BBM user since 2008, last year started to use several new chat applications such as LINE and KakaoTalk. She chose the two because they allow users to attach stickers to messages as well as offering discounts for certain events.

Though Rina could not definitively say how much time she spends chatting on her smartphone, the Nielsen study showed that 71 percent of smartphone users spend 26 percent of their “smartphone-time”, or 37 minutes a day, chatting through various chat applications.

The time spent for chatting surpassed that for browsing the Internet and using entertainment features, which come in at 33 minutes and 27 minutes, respectively. Calls and messaging, meanwhile, took up a very small portion of time — only six minutes and eight minutes per day, respectively.

Indonesia, which has a population of more than 240 million, has been showing increasing interest in smartphones, with the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association (APJII) predicting that the number of mobile data subscriptions in the country will more than double to 125 million in 2017, from around 60 million last year.

The Nielsen study also showed that BBM remained the top chat application in Indonesia. Anil Antony, the executive director of consumer insights at Nielsen Indonesia, added that 79 percent of Indonesian smartphone users used BBM for about 23 minutes a day on their devices.

Meanwhile, 57 and 30 percent of smartphone users used WhatsApp and LINE for only six minutes and five minutes a day, respectively. Other chat applications, such as WeChat, Kakao Talk and Facebook Messenger, were only used by between 7 and 28 percent of Indonesian smartphone users.

Antony said that BBM, which can now be used on non-BlackBerry devices, would linger in the country as it provided emotional benefits for the users.

“WhatsApp and other chat applications have minimum engagement to replace BBM. People already have their own family groups, student-teacher groups and other groups on BBM, so they don’t want to not be in those conversations,” he said.

Nielsen Indonesia senior manager Sandeep Salunke added that WhatsApp usage in Indonesia had dropped dramatically.

“We can see that in the previous six months or seven months, people spent 40 to 50 minutes a day using WhatsApp, which has now gone down to six minutes,” he said.

That supports another Nielsen finding that most Indonesians still prefer using BlackBerry handsets, although the Canadian phone’s market share in Indonesia has dropped continually, from 43 percent in 2011 to only 13.54 percent last year, according to information from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Indonesia.

The Nielsen study showed that 48 percent of Indonesian phone users had BlackBerry phones and 34 percent of the users stated that BlackBerry was their favorite brand.

In Malaysia and Thailand, meanwhile, people mostly used and preferred Samsung or iPhone handsets. In Malaysia, 51 percent of phone users used Samsung and 48 percent of users considered Samsung their favorite brand. Phone users in Thailand mostly used Samsung (32 percent) but at the same time considered iPhone their favorite brand (37 percent).

Antony said that the large amount of time Indonesians spend on chatting indicated that demand for data services would remain high in the country.

“Chatting applications are not data-heavy, but you [phone users] need data all the time,” Antony said, adding that telecommunications operators and handset makers should view that as an opportunity.

The APJII has also predicted that by the year’s end, around 107 million people in Indonesia will be online, putting the country at 12th spot in the global ranking of Internet users.

The Nielsen study pulled data from 1,197 smartphone users using on-device meters throughout last year until February this year and surveyed 1,900 urban phone users across the country last year.

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