The number of internet users in Thailand could reach 52 million this year thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and increasing availability of broadband.
Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap, the information and communication technology (ICT) minister, said the number would represent a doubling in users and credited lower prices for smartphones and tablets.
At the end of last year, Thailand had 26 million internet users or about 37% of the population.
Surangkana Wayuparb, director of the ICT Ministry's Electronic Transaction Development Agency (ETDA), said viral marketing is a powerful tool for companies involved in e-commerce.
Viral marketing involves the use of existing social networks to quickly boost brand awareness among groups of people.
Among 23,907 respondents surveyed by the ETDA in April and May, an overwhelming 93.8% reported using social media, with half of these saying they shop via social networks.
Convenience, attractive promotions and online payment security are the top three reasons people decide to make purchases via social media, with the three best-selling products listed as fashion clothing and shoes, mobiles and other IT gadgets, and cosmetics.
The average product price is 2,500 baht.
Facebook, Google+, LINE, Instagram and Twitter are the five most popular social-media sites among internet surfers.
The survey showed Thais spend an average of 32 hours a week on the internet, up from 18 hours in 2011.
The top three online activities are sending email, conducting searches and using social media, with 54%, 52% and 33% of respondents answering in the affirmative, respectively.
The survey showed the main obstacles to internet usage are low speeds, high service charges and poor network coverage.
Notebooks, smartphones and tablets are the primary devices for accessing the internet, together surpassing desktop computers.
The survey also found 35% of respondents use free WiFi service sponsored by the ICT Ministry, with half these users expressing satisfaction with the service, particularly in rural areas.
Gp Capt Anudith said the number of people using free public WiFi at 250,000 hotspot locations nationwide will reach 8 million this year.
About the author
- Writer: Suchit Leesa-nguansuk
Position: Senior Reporter