Study: Demand for mobile devices, new apps grows among Latin American youth

A new report on Latin America’s online audience and use of digital devices shows a dramatic increase in the use of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, as well as growth in demand for applications and data capacity as Internet connectivity has improved in many parts of the region.

A survey of people in six Latin American countries by Miami-based IMS Internet Media Services, a digital marketing and communications firm, reached the following conclusions:

▪ Latin America shows an exceptional proclivity toward digital media, and Latino Silicon Valley-type companies are appearing throughout the region.

▪ The new Latin American consumer is hyper-connected, dominates technology and is highly influenced by social media.

▪ The online audience in the region is young, with more than half of the audience under 35 years of age.

“Today there are more cellphones than people in several Latin American countries,” said Gastón Taratuta, founder and CEO of IMS.

“Internet connectivity has been growing in recent years and we have seen a revolution in mobile usage as providers are bundling more services,” said Tartatuta in a phone interview from Buenos Aires. He predicted that there would be more than 200 million smart phones in the region by the end of 2016, and that demand for new data capacity and apps “to make our lives easier” would expand dramatically.

As people in the region use more online apps and share more data, telecommunications companies have to increase data capacity to make up for lower voice revenue, Taratuta said.

“The future will require more investment in telecom infrastructure, cheaper hardware that can handle 4G and more apps.

“In Latin America, I see a world of more apps and better connectivity,” he said.

Latin Americans, who before the cellphone era had to wait years for a land line, and in some countries could never obtain a home phone, were quick to adapt to the first generation of cellphones. In recent years, they have demanded the same level of service offered in industrialized countries.

To give an idea of who is using the Internet, the study estimates that 80 percent of users in the region are under 54 years of age.

The survey, to be released on the IMS Website on Wednesday, was carried out by contacting more than 4,000 smart phone and tablet users in January 2015. Interviewees in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Chile were asked about device ownership, app usage and behaviors.

The populations in these six countries represent over 460 million out of a total Latin American population of 588 million.

The survey also showed that a majority of the sample used Android phones (78 percent), as opposed to 19 percent for Apple iPhones, seven percent Blackberries and eight percent “other” or “didn’t know.”

About 80 percent had WiFi access and 35 percent had 20 or more apps on their phones.

For offline media consumption, 50 percent of those surveyed said they read newspapers less then three hours per week while 51 percent said they read magazines less than three hours a week.

Radio and TV were more popular. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed said they watched TV seven to 20 hours per week and 46 percent listened to the radio from seven to more than 20 hours a week.

Latin America still has a long way to go in linking its people to the Internet, Taratuta said. Between 65 to 75 percent of Latin American currently have access to the Internet, compared to 90-95 percent in the United States.

Among the Latin American countries that are most advanced in Internet usage are Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Chile, he added.

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