With a booming economy ranked 15th in the world - and much of that wealth generated by technology - it’s hardly surprising that South Korea is a nation of plugged-in, tech-savvy citizens. But recent reports from the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) and Google indicate just how pervasive web-enabled devices have become in South Korean society, and especially among the youth demographic.
According to KISA, smartphone penetration among 18-59 year-olds had leapt from 39.2% in 2011 to 78.5% the following year. This year, a Google poll surveyed South Korean internet users and found that nearly 98% of 18-24 year-olds own a smartphone. Market penetration remained high in the next two categories, with 95% of 25-34 year-olds and nearly 90% of 35-44 year olds saying they owned a smartphone. The figures drop off in the older demographic, with only 25% of over-55’s having a smartphone.
In another report – published recently in emarketer – DMC Media looked at the ways in which South Korean smartphone owners use their devices. The survey polled web-enabled mobile device users between the ages of 19 and 59, and found that 64% of respondents used smartphones primarily to send mobile messages, with social media (43.4%), email (26.2%) and web browsing (25.2%) accounting for the remainder of main uses.
The high uptake of smartphone usage in South Korea is a reflection of the country’s booming tech sector. At the vanguard of this boom is Samsung, a world-leader in smartphone development. India-based news channel the Deccan Chronicle recently reported a third-quarter surge of 26% for the company – another new record for Samsung, which has posted record profits in six of the past seven quarters.
This upsurge in fortunes is largely attributable to the Seoul firm’s reinvigorated memory chip business, which has seen global profits double to 2.06 trillion won, the highest figure in three years. Samsung’s Galaxy devices still have some way to go to match iPhone sales, but the company’s mobile division nevertheless reported profits of 6.7 trillion won.
Clearly, mobile technology is at the forefront of South Korean culture and commerce and as a world-leader in terms of tech development and consumer uptake, that situation is unlikely to change anytime soon…