Japan overtakes Indonesia as biggest Twitter user in Asia
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Japan overtakes Indonesia as biggest Twitter user in Asia

*UPDATE: to clarify, the results of this data are a confirmation of what is much know/suspected across Asia rather than news itself. With Twitter itself acknowledging its rapid rise in the land of the rising sun, it has likely Japan has dominated Twitter in Asia for a considerable period however this is the first research to clearly illustrate this with hard fact since Sysomos put Indonesia top in the region.

A couple of weeks back I reported that, according to data from comScore, Indonesia was the world’s biggest Twitter addict, by virtue of the largest usage of the service amongst its online population (i.e. number of people that use the web).

Using the same data from comScore, I’ve calculated an estimated number of Twitter users across 11 of Asia’s key markets, the results of which are below, with the key highlight being that Japan is now Asia’s biggest Twitter user, taking over from Indonesia which is pushed into third place by India.

This isn’t the first time I’ve published Twitter numbers in Asia, see this post from January this year for alternative figures which put Indonesia top in Asia.

The important figure is the third box (Twitter Users est) which provides an estimate of each country’s userbase though total population online and overall population are included as reference, while the final box (Twitter usage overall pop) gives the percentage of the total population estimated to use Twitter. The bottom line provides averages (of these 11 markets not Asian as a whole) for comparison.

The data is taken from comScore’s tracking of Twitter.com usage for June 2010, see here for more on the company’s website.


Twitter has grown hugely in Japan and as such the results reflected in this data are largely expected, as I predicted may be the case last month:

It is like to be a close run affair contest. While Indonesia has a huge population of more than 220 million (nearly double that of Japan), a vibrant and active social media community and a fast-growing rate of smartphone ownership, Japan’s advanced technology, long history of mobile internet and mature consumer habits cause me to think, if pushed for a winner, Japan is now Asia’s biggest tweeter.

Despite the number, Indonesia remains notable as the country with the greatest usage amongst its online population although looking at usage across each country’s population as a whole, Japan has the greatest overall penetration of Twitter with a staggering 12.69 percent of the country using the service – that’s more than one in 10.

Elsewhere, India, by virtue of its huge population and recent Twitter usage growth, has emerged with a sizeable Twitter population. While Vietnam is seeing sizeable growth too.

China is the highest profile absentee as Twitter is blocked in the country while Thailand is another not included, a situation that is unlikely to change any time soon as comScore admitted “there are no definitive plans to report Thailand separately at this time” .

Thailand’s explosion in social media usage, which made it one of Facebook’s fastest growing markets, is, in my opinion, reason enough to keep track of the nation’s usage of social media, and in this case Twitter, though the country continues to suffer from poor technology infrastructure with little broadband access and no public 3G, although trial 3G deployments are in place.


I expect Twitter usage in Japan and India, and to a lesser extent South Korea and Vietnam, to grow at the highest rates while Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines – where social media was recently described as the country’s ‘fifth estate’ – will continue to post higher numbers. However Twitter is newer, and still appealing to early(ish) adopters who will adopt the service more quickly than regular members of the public with less interest in social networks and the internet.

Additionally, much of India‘s growth may come from increased internet penetration which is allowing more Indians access to the Internet, therefore increasing the audience exposure, and potential userbase, of social media sites like Twitter.


The data from comScore is by no means official or de facto for the same reasons I explained when revealing Indonesia to be the wold’s biggest Twitter addict:


It is important to consider a number of factors which may have influenced the results of this research before analysing its significance.

– As is often the case with comScore research, websites visits from public computers – such as Internet cafes or access from mobile phones or PDAs – are not included in the data. This compromises the overall validity of the data as many of the newest internet-enabled people in developing markets like Asia and South America access through the mobile web, which has more than 300 million users in China, for example, though of course Twitter is blocked there. That said, many mobile Twitter users are likely to have logged into the site using fixed-line internet connections.

– The data includes traffic number to twitter.com alone and does not count usage of third party sites and applications. With many preferring to access Twitter through third parties, traffic to Twitter’s website does not reflect overall usage. However, assuming the data measures unique users, it seems likely a large proportion of Twitter users would visit the official site at least once in a month, therefore registering them in comScore’s data. So while this factor affects the data, it is likely to be less of a factor than not included public internet access.

Revealing alternative estimates of Twitter users in Asia (here), Malaysia-based social media blog Grey Review suggested that, given the high usage of third party application which – according to Twitter – accounts for around 75 percent of total usage, numbers should be multiplied by three.

I’ve deliberately avoided this approach to keep these figures as ‘estimates’ – while I believe that most users access Twitter.com at least one time per month, irrespective of the fact that they use third party applications for most of their usage. As the data measures unique visits, which enables comScore to estimate Twitter usage amongst each country’s online population, those using third part apps are likely to be included in the count even if they just visit the site once.

It would, however, be fascinating to see how the data changed if it could account for usage from mobile phones as well as computers.

We will have to wait and see if such monitoring and information will become available in Asia, but for now it seems Japan has taken Indonesia‘s place at the top of Asia’s Twitter ladder.