KUALA LUMPUR: The advent of smartphones has seen a strong swing towards data, and it will get much better for the segment, industry executives said.
Google Malaysia country manager Sajith Sivanandan said data usage is set to increase by leaps and bounds in coming years.
"Smartphone penetration here has increased tremendously and smartphones are an integral part of Malaysians' lives today.
"Two years ago, only nine per cent of Malaysians were using smartphones. Today, 35 per cent of the population has a smart-phone. This is going to become more and more prevalent," he added.
Credit Suisse research analyst Foong Wai Loke noted that in the sector's service revenues, data grew strongly, rising 17 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2013.
Among the industry players, Maxis is the market leader with a 43.5 per cent share of the segment.
Industry insiders noted that Maxis had 13,874 subscribers based on its second quarter figures, followed closely by Celcom Axiata Bhd with 12,959 subscribers (excluding some 14,000 subscribers linked to its MNVO partners).
Foong pointed that the telco's strength lies in urban post-paid subscribers and it will see improvements in the utilisation of its data network.
News of a new Maxis chief executive officer (Morten Lundal) is also seen as being favourable to the company as he is reported to have an excellent track record.
Lundal is due to helm Maxis starting October.
DiGi, too, remains a powerful player because its network modernisation will be completed in the third quarter of 2013, Foong said.
This will help the company to improve revenues and profitability.
"DiGi is equipped with a brand new network with a lean cost structure," he added.
On the whole, despite voice accounting for 60 per cent of the service revenues, it is slipping year-on-year, alongside short messaging service or SMS - the latter which Foong said has fallen 12 per cent year-on-year.
Data revenues, on the other hand, rose to 27 per cent of the second quarter 2013 service revenues, up from 21 per cent in the previous corresponding period.