Asia mobile gambling markets outlook

    Published in: Latest Intelligence


    The Mobile Gaming market in the Asia-Pacific region is as diverse as the nations in this market. There are a range of trading currencies, platforms, and game preferences making it difficult to adopt a cohesive strategy for the region.

    Mobile gaming is enjoying solid growth in terms of revenue and market share. Research and Markets estimates mobile gaming to hit $54 Billion in global market value by 2015. The Asian region leads the mobile gaming market with approximately 40 percent market stake. The greater Asia-Pacific region, as well as emerging markets, such as the Middle East are also high growth areas. 

    Research and Markets forecasts that the total number of global mobile subscribers will reach approximately 7 billion by 2015 with Asia representing 65 percent of this total, representing the leading region. 

    While China and India account for nearly 75 percent of the top 10 countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, as well as Vietnam are following them with a rapid growth rate.

    Among the Asian mobile markets, Korea and Japan, by adopting 3G at an early stage, have been leading the region in terms of technology, providing various kind of services with diversified contents within Asia. While the mobile subscriber numbers of Korea and Japan have been peaking, the rest of the Asian countries are still experiencing growth in mobile. In Korea the mobile carriers aggressively market 3G and 4G smartphones, supported by the local vendors Samsung, LGE and Pantech.

    The smartphone penetration rate in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam is quite high, since Symbian-based smartphones were commonly used before iPhone OS or Android phones were introduced. In the Philippines and India, due to lower incomes as well as the popularity of web-enabled feature phones, the spread of smartphones appears lower compared to other Southeast Asian nations. 

    Android market in China

    China has become the largest single market for Android, with two in every three mobile phones sold in the country in 2012 powered by the Google-backed OS, according to Informa Telecoms & Media.

    The research firm also claims that a third of all Android devices sold globally in 2012 were sold in China. The US is the second-largest market for Android with an 11 percent share.

    It is estimated that around 786 million smartphone devices were sold in 2012 (including the devices powered by non-certified variants of Android that are appearing in China), which is 45 percent more than the total number of smartphones sold in 2011, notes Saadi.

    China is by far the fastest-growing smartphone market with a year-on-year growth of 85 percent in 2012, and this growth is being driven by the explosive demand for Android phones. Sales of devices powered by Android in China exceeded 50 percent penetration in 2012.

    Of the other major platforms, Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows Phone hold minority shares of China’s total handset sales, around 5 percent and 1 percent, respectively in 2012. 

    However, thanks to Nokia’s partnership with China Mobile, Windows Phone is expected to improve its share in 2013 to 2 percent while iPhone is expected to lose market share slightly if Apple does not manage to create a TD-LTE variant for the Chinese market.

    In a study of the major countries in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, 31 percent of smartphones were found to be running Android. Apple’s iOS has about 19 percent of the market with Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows Phone rounding out the remaining shares.

    While most countries in the region are using Android, there are some countries that seem to be bucking the trend. One is Singapore, which has a 46 percent adoption of iOS.

    RIM is struggling in Western markets but the Canadian firm remains a big market player in certain Asia countries. In Indonesia and Thailand, for example, Ericsson ConsumerLab indicates that it has the largest share of smartphones, at 27 percent and 17 percent respectively.

    Interestingly, long-faded Nokia system Symbian remains popular in Vietnam, where it leads with 26 percent of all smartphones in the country, ahead of Android and iOS, which tie at 21 percent.

    Mobile Gambling – the channel of choice

    According to ONEworks, ‘bets placed’ via WAP represent 70 percent of the market. In fact, operator Bodog88 notes that WAP is three times bigger than Smartphone for gambling usage in Asia.

    To coincide with the FA Cup 3rd round matches, Asia-facing online gambling operator Bodog88 has launched a new smartphone and WAP interface allowing access to all bet types in both formats.

    Robert Gustafsson, managing director of Bodog88 says: “The strength of WAP in Asia surprised everybody, myself included, but as a result it made sense to wait until we could have both versions up and running before we launched our full mobile service.  “The growth in mobile is well-documented and showing no signs of slowing but having both the WAP and Smartphone options should give us a competitive advantage as well as, obviously, widen the accessibility of the brand in Asia.”

    Tom Hall, head of business development for ONEworks added, “We know how vitally important mobile is for our sportsbook clients, and I am certain this will help Bodog gain even greater market share through our enhanced mobile offering, increasingly the ‘channel of choice’ amongst in-play sports-betting customers.”

    Just looking at growth in China as an example, the number of people buying Internet-ready mobile phones will take the total amount online to 701 million by 2015. 

    This is double the number of mobile users in the U.S. and Japan combined, and still just 51 percent of the population. 

    It seems clear that the future is mobile… 


    Jacques LeDisco is a contributor at Asia Gambling Brief specialised in mobile gambling.