For APAC Consumers, It’s a Love-Hate Relationship with Big Tech

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According to a new survey nearly all APAC consumers depend on Big Tech for products and services, but they also want more choice

 

SINGAPORE – Media
OutReach
 – 6 November 2019 – A survey from the Internet
Society, a global non-profit dedicated to the open development, evolution and
use of the Internet reveals that nearly all consumers (96%) in APAC depend in
some way on “Big Tech” companies for their products and services for their
online activities, but are uneasy with this dependence.

 

This year’s Asia Pacific
Internet Policy Insights
surveyed more than 1,300 people from across 39
economies in the region. The study focused on consolidation in the Internet
economy with the goal of understanding the growing influence of a handful of dominant
players in the online world. The survey also delves into how this is shaping
the online landscape and the functionality of the Internet.

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With virtually all (96%) respondents highlighting
their dependence on large platforms, it is clear that the largest players are
dominating vast swathes of the Internet. This includes Facebook and Tencent in
social networks, Google and Baidu in search, and Amazon and Alibaba in online
shopping.

 

Close to half of the respondents, 47%, felt that
these large players fully influenced how they accessed and used the Internet.
And when you include those who felt they at least had partial influence, this
figure shoots up to 95%. 

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The study notes that the success of these online platforms is linked to
convenience and the ease of access to products and services.

 

Consumers are also keenly aware that they will have a tough time finding
alternatives for the services provided by these companies. Just 5 out of every
100 respondents believe it would be very easy to find a suitable replacement. And
only a third of those surveyed (34%) felt that they had more choices today than
they did 5 years ago.

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APAC Consumers Want More Choice, But Fear the
Unknown 

Despite the current dependence on Big Tech, the majority of consumers in
the region would like to see more choice in the market, with 60% of those
surveyed highlighting that they would like to have the ability to choose
products and services from more than just five companies. This translates to
wanting more choice from both big and small companies.

 

The top five categories that consumers would like to see more choices in
are:

1.     
E-commerce
websites

2.     
Search
Engines

3.     
Social Media
Platforms

4.     
Email
Providers

5.     
Messaging
Apps

However, whilst they may wish to see increasing choices, consumers in the
region remain unconvinced that smaller alternatives are safe. Only 16% of those
surveyed indicated having high or very high levels of trust for small companies
on the Internet. This is versus 53% who felt the same about big companies on
the Internet.

 

The Asia-Pacific Policy Survey found that security has come out tops once
again with security and trust the main concerns for the region’s Internet users
for the third year in a row. However, in addition to the issue of security,
consumers are also beginning to pay more attention to the need for consumer
protection.

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For the first time since the survey started in 2014, Internet users have
cited consumer protection as a top-five concern, in terms of public policy. The
new focus could signify rising awareness of the need for consumer rights to be
addressed.

 

The top five Internet-related policy issues, as cited by respondents,
this year are:

  • Cybersecurity
    — 79%
  • Access — 75%
  • Data
    Protection –73%
  • Privacy — 70%
  • Consumer
    Protection — 64% 
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“This year’s
report will help policymakers and other decision-makers in the region
understand that digital consolidation involves a complex set of issues. While
people benefit from big tech’s products and services, they are clearly
concerned about associated security and privacy threats, and they also want
more choice,” said Rajnesh Singh, APAC Regional Director of the Internet
Society.

 

“The desire of Internet
users in the region to have a variety of service providers to choose from
suggests that policymakers need to make sure that policies targeted at
developing the digital economy do not favour only the large players, but nurture
and cultivate small-and-medium-sized firms,” he adds.

 

Earlier this
year, the Internet Society published the 2019
Global Internet Report

on this issue as a starting point for exploring whether the Internet economy is
consolidating and, if it is, what the implications might be for the future of
digital communications, connectivity, and commerce.

About the Internet Society

Founded by
Internet pioneers, the Internet
Society
is a
non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution,
and use of the Internet. Working through a global community of chapters and
members, the Internet Society collaborates with a broad range of groups to
promote the technologies that keep the Internet safe and secure and advocates
for policies that enable universal access. The Internet Society is also the
organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Survey Methodology: 

1,322 individuals
from 39 economies across Asia-Pacific answered the survey which was conducted
on Survey Monkey from July 1-July 31, 2019. It was divided into three main
sections: first set of questions aimed to solicit views on consolidation in the
Internet economy, while the second section sought to identify the top
Internet-related policy concerns in the region. The third section helped to
determine the profile of the sample population.

Over half of the
respondents self-identified as residing in or originating from South Asia
(56%), with the rest coming from South-East Asia (21%); Australia, New Zealand
and the Pacific Islands (13%); and East Asia (10%). Respondents are scattered
across all age groups, but lean towards a younger demographic–15% are 15-24
years old, 31% are aged 25-34, another 31% are 35-44, and the remaining 23% are
45 years or older. Respondents are quite evenly distributed across stakeholder
groups–25% are with the private sector, 22% with academia, 21% with the
technical community, 20% with civil society (including non-governmental
organisations, media, individuals and students) and 12% with government.

For APAC Consumers, It's a Love-Hate Relationship with Big Tech - Brand Spur

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